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Become a dedicated follower of fashion in Leeds

Written by
Kay Brown

Leeds' fashion heritage might be firmly in tailoring, with the success of Burton and J Hepworth and Son, who were once he UK's largest clothing company and gave us sister brand Next, but 2015 could be the year we see a new path emerge for fashion designers and manufacturers in the city.

For the sartorial-minded among you, here's how you can indulge your love of cloth…

Lambert's Yard
At the tail-end of 2014, Lambert's Yard re-opened as a permanent space in the heart of the city's oldest building and kickstarted a New Fashion Pioneer programme in association with the Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE). Following on from its successful introduction earlier in the year, the new partnership – the first with the CFE outside of London – highlighted a demand in the Leeds area from emerging and existing designers for greater infrastructure support outside of the traditional education routes.

The Pioneer programme provides designers with strategic support tailored (arf!) to their business and offers retail opportunities via Lambert's Yard. There are seminars and events running in tandem, which offer advice and the chance to meet up with Lambert's buyer Adam Jagger and other industry bods.

Your immediate impression of Lambert's Yard may be its on-trend shop but delve deeper and there's details of the CFE programme in-store and it's worth following their Twitter account to find out about forthcoming events – we've heard whispers that their in-house event programme is going to be unmissable.

Lambert's YardKay Brown

While Lambert's Yard is a relative newcomer, other organisations in the city have been providing business support and retail space too. Fabrication in The Light is a social enterprise that's been supporting micro craft and fashion businesses since 2008. After a three-year stint at founder Dawn Wood's studio, Fabrication moved to the Merrion Centre in 2011 and has been in the current home since 2012.

As a retail space, Fabrication offers much more than the fashion and design found in Lambert's Yard, stocking furniture, greeting cards, home interiors, locally-made preserves, children's toys, clothing and other trinkets. It's an Aladdin's Cave of items curated by the individual creator. You'll need more than a rushed lunch hour to browse.

It also offers much more than you might initially realise. As well as supporting craft and fashion via business support (from workshops to informal advice about everything from pricing), they're attempting to keep craft skills alive and try to prevent social isolation with sellers encouraged to work in the shop or pay an increased charge to be stocked.

FabricationKay Brown

Sunny Bank Mills
Outside the city centre, Farsley's Sunny Bank Mills offers the opportunity to work in a once-thriving worsted mill. It doesn't have a formal incubation programme for fashion wannabes, instead offering studio space in an inspiring, historical setting and has an awe-inspiring archive packed with fabrics, colour cards and more.

There's an opportunity to delve deeper into the archive by volunteering and working with archive curator Rachel Moaby to clean and preserve this piece of history so it lasts for another 100 years. You can be one of the first to uncover some of the hidden gems in this treasure trove.

Sunny Bank MillsKay Brown

For those of us who aren't ready to cut our own cloth let alone develop a fashion line, there's a number of classes and courses in the city to help us improve our sewing and pattern-cutting skills. 

Social enterprise O.W.L Industries began by hosting workshops in Kirkgate Market in 2013 and are now based in Magellan House at Leeds Dock. They deliver creative workshops and activities at their base as well as in other locations across the city. To hear about their upcoming events, their Facebook page is your best bet.

North of the city centre, in Headingley, The Bowery have an unbeatable calendar of courses for evenings and weekends covering jewellery making and millinery alongside sewing They sell out quickly so plan ahead.

For an introduction to Leeds College of Art, their short courses are perfect. They offer five- and six-week courses to loosen up your fingers and can talk to you about their accredited higher and further education courses. One of the best art colleges in the country, who wouldn't want to follow in the footsteps of Antiform's Lizzie HarrisonRav Matharu and Make Love Not Scars founder Ria Sharma.

More things to do on Time Out Leeds.

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