From Stornoway to Mexico - How LCCUHI's Fashion course is going global.

Fashion Lecturer Netty Sopata tell us more about our popular Fashion courses and how she is working with students & artisans internationally.

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Ndavvaa Shoes

From Stornoway to Mexico - Fashion goes global from Lews Castle College UHI.

Fashion Lecturer Netty Sopata tells us more about our popular Fashion courses and how she is working with international students to support training for Artisans across Latin America in the midst of Covid.

Tell us about your course:

Fashion Design & Manufacture with Retail has been running for the last three years at Lews Castle College UHI. We started with the NC, and as the course was so popular, we then introduced a higher level each year for students to progress to. This year’s students are studying at HND level through a mixture of intensive practical pattern cutting and machining lectures and theoretical digital lectures. Some of our students joined us directly from school at HNC level and some are mature students.

Why study your course:

The fashion industry is currently re – establishing itself in a world where embracing, understanding and applying sustainable practice and design are essential attributes for any emerging designer.  Studying Fashion Design at LCC UHI will equip you with not only the practical pattern drafting and machine skills required to manufacture garments and millinery; It will also provide you with an understanding of how to design, communicate your designs through illustration and how the fashion industry works on a business level. Alongside this you will also gain invaluable experience studying and working with Harris Tweed. The world of Fashion retail is currently, due to the Pandemic, in a huge state of upheaval, but the changes that are taking place due to this are not all negative. When you study Fashion Design you learn how to design and manufacture clothing but in order to do so you develop an ability to analyse the society in which we currently live and influence the future society in which we will be living.

Are there particular elements of research or events you would like to detail:

Each year we host an end of year show. This is an opportunity for students to display their work, celebrate their achievements and put on a fantastic show for everyone. It is a time of great pride for me as a lecturer. I love to see my students being able to display their hard work and see how far they have come.

This year we will be holding an event in June 2021, hopefully at Lews Castle College if Covid restrictions allow.  

Would you recommend LCC UHI to other students:

Yes. Each course group is limited to 10 students. This means I get to work closely with students and help them to develop their skills. We offer guidance and tuition that is really specialised.

Tell us about your work with The British Council and Applied Arts Scotland:

I have been working with Applied Arts Scotland to deliver online training for Artisans across Latin America in the midst of Covid. Applied Arts Scotland have developed and are delivering a new online package called ‘Craft Kit’. I will be presenting an introduction to this wonderful new online tool at a digital craft conference in Mexico called Fesdiart – This links into a British Council Crafting Futures Mexico Project I worked on last year. I went to Mexico and then ran a Scottish:Mexican Artisan Residency programme in Sept. 2019. As part of that the Mexican & Scottish Artisans visited Lews Castle College UHI and spoke to the HNC Fashion Students about their textile work. They then had the chance to visit Uist Wool and a Harris Tweed weaver.

I think these international links are so essential in fashion and for our students to learn about them. For example, when I was in Mexico I visited ‘Ndavaa’ A family run business in the Zapotec Community of San Dionisio who have been making sandals and more recently contemporary shoes for over thirty five years. As they grow, they are consciously applying sustainable and zero waste production techniques whilst also applying the principles of the social economy. Much of the hand embroidery and weaving work is outsourced to women living in rural communities and they are constantly working towards creating more employment to retain the rural population. These Artisanal Shoes and innovative determination of the family demonstrates beautifully how traditional sustainable techniques can be applied to create contemporary design and prevent the loss of traditional skills and designs, something that applies very much to traditional skills and designs here in Scotland and the Outer Hebrides.

To find out more about studying Fashion at Lews Castle College UHI and to join Netty on a live Q&A session join us as part of our Online Open Week.