Zimbabwean designer, mother and Outreach (formerly Widening Participation) ambassador Tsitsi Fred is on the verge of graduating from BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit and is first LCFBA16 feature ahead of next month’s season of events.
While studying at Lewisham College, Tsitsi was undecided about what career path to take and what area of fashion she wanted to specialise in. Through Outreach’s spring and summer schools, plus taster sessions, she had first-hand experience across several fashion practices available at London College of Fashion. She discovered that fashion textiles was right for her, especially knit, so she processed in applying and received support from Outreach throughout the journey. Three years later and after countless hours in studio sessions, she is preparing to enter the industry and is forever grateful to our Outreach team for their constant support and encouragement throughout her degree.
Like countless other students from diverse backgrounds, the support from Outreach has helped shape their life’s and created routes into fashion. Tsitsi said,
I just want to thank Outreach for giving me this opportunity and helping me with support throughout my time here. Studying at London College of Fashion has been an amazing journey and I will be contact with the team after graduating. I’d like to continue working with them and help a lot of people who were in my position.
Here Tsitsi runs us through her collection, time at LCF and why she wanted to became a Outreach ambassador and help shape the life’s of others. She has been working as an Outreach Student Ambassador on their UAL Insights program, where she provides hands-on experience to students at secondary school and A-Level ages.
Where did you study before you came here?
I was at Lewisham College. I studied B Tech in Fashion and Arts, from there I was introduced to CAPS (now UAL Insights), who ran a four day course at LCF to test different areas of fashion. I tried several different things from knitting, tailoring, printing, 3D and photography. From there I knew studying fashion was something I wanted to do. The course tutors said I had great skills for knitting, so I applied for the course straight after the four day course. I never applied to anywhere else, only LCF, I wanted to be here! CAPS at the time guaranteed interviews, roughly three years ago. We came to CAPS for portfolio tutorials, and we had an interview, which luckily led to me getting a place here.
How have Outreach helped you throughout your degree?
The whole team were very helpful. When I was still at college, Kate worked there before recently retiring, and she came to our college to help us with the application and also throughout the degree with anything we weren’t certain about.
Best parts and most challenging parts of LCF?
London College of Fashion is the best college because their resources are amazing, they have everything that you want. They have the most supportive staff, help from Outreach, but it’s up to you as a student to make sure you ask for that help or guidance when you need it. If you don’t ask, then nobody will help you! We also have study support in college that encourage you to experience more and different cultures, they support you right through to the end. The worst part is that’s its really busy here, especially for me as a mother, I have a child to think of and it can be hard to balance the busy schedule with a family to take care of.
How did you find being able to balance your family with work?
I’m very lucky that I have family at home who are helping me balance studying and my son. Planning a schedule for both of us at the same time can be quite difficult, especially when I have to drop him off at school then travel an hour to get into John Prince’s Street or nearly two for Lime Grove. My son is also autistic, which also makes the situation and balance quite tricky. He’s at school now but he’s only 13, and it can be quite challenging with his condition. In the mornings, I have to make sure everything is done and ready for both of us, I can only leave after his school bus comes. It can be challenging getting to LCF for 9.30 sometimes when times don’t match up. Luckily my course leader understood that I might struggle to get in some days. They totally understood my situation.
How did you find adjusting from college to university?
This is where I really applaud Outreach because two weeks before we began university, we had a course called, Start Learning at LCF. The course was two weeks of teaching a bit of everything from cultural studies and academic writing, the team helped me integrate into student life and the academia side of it as I was never really exposed to it in college.
What are you producing for your final project?
I’m mainly doing samples, I really enjoy making them so sampling is really good for me. Because of my son, I believe making sampling would be better for me, as I can do that freelance, although I can still make garments, it might be difficult balancing a full-time position right now. Like I said before, I have to take into account my son but I still want to make garments while looking after him. Most of the samples I’ve made are for my final major project. Since my first year, I’ve been a student ambassador working with Outreach. I’ve been working with them throughout my degree, I’ve been teaching students from other colleges, doing the same thing before I applied to college. I’ve been helping with younger students at LCF, and applying here, but also teaching at spring and summer schools. I’ve also been helping autistic kids with textiles and fashion. I would like to teach special needs adults and children in the future, this is definitely something I’d want to do. I would like to carry on with crafting. So from the help that Outreach have given me, I want to give back and help others.
With your collection almost finished, and thinking about the future. What would the ideal good for you be after graduation?
I think I’d like to be a designer, it’s something I really enjoy and also really good at. I want to also continue being a teacher, and hopefully balance that with being a designer.
How would you describe your style?
My final major project was inspired by autism. Children and adults with autism love colour, it stimulates them so much, especially with the texture. My son can’t speak, but he appreciates the texture of materials and garments. It’s something he really enjoys and understands. That’s why I decided to put lots of colour and texture into my project, in a way, it’s a way of communicating to the world. I’m sort of using fashion to communicate with autistic children and adults. The best thing about fashion is being able to bring anything into it. It’s quite amazing how fashion can affect peoples lifes – I didn’t really know about this when I started. Autism, nature and landscape really inspire me to create new things, styles and mixtures of colours.
Being a students in London good for your profession?
I think London is fashion! Here you have access to galleries, museums and thousands of shops or markets for free. It is a great place to go anywhere for, you can research and be inspired at every corner all year around.
Normal day as a students ambassador?
Well it varies, during Spring School, normally we teach young students how to work machines and techniques like, how to thread or knit. We’d started off somewhere like teaching young students to knit a scarf, and then later we’d do the fashion part of embroidery. You need to make something with a meaning otherwise it isn’t fashion. At the end of the day you need to come up with, what is it, how do you want it to be, is it a sleeve, is it a full garments etc. We were teaching students that and they were doing rough sketches of whatever they wanted to design.
Outreach are renowned for making fashion more accessible to a diverse group of people. There has been a stigma attached to fashion in the past that its mainly a white dominated world, do you think this is changing and turning more diverse?
It is definitely changing! I believe it is more diverse now because of the different ways you can present your designs and take on fashion. I think different cultures coming together are bringing so many different things to fashion. For example, in my class their is people from Africa, South America and Asia as well as Europe. We are all taking different practices and techniques off each other and developing new styles. I think multicultural environments and technology are changing the way people see fashion now.
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