Inspired by the quality of fashion education offered in fashion capitals like London and New York, Woolworths teamed up with leading tertiary design universities to put young South African designers on the map

Woolworths partnered with Kingston University in London and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town to nurture the skills of soon-to-be fashion design graduates.

Now in its third year, the programme has offered second and third year fashion students an exclusive opportunity to gain theoretical and practical experience from academics, retail design professionals and industry leaders. Students in both years are catered to because the UK academic year starts in September/October and SA’s academic year starts in January.

The scheme is divided into three parts:
• The participating fashion lecturers – one from each university –  trade places teaching each other’s classes for one or two weeks, where they can share their unique perspectives and technical expertise.

• The two winners from each university experience the vibrant creative buzz in the cities of London and Cape Town, including boutiques, galleries, museums and entertainment as well as major cultural events like Design Indaba and London Graduate Fashion Week.

• The winning students also have an opportunity to intern at Woolworths for 5 days, where they experience the Design process, commercial fittings as well as range builds, and reviews.

This year
Maryna Bergh a fashion design lecturer at CPUT was the exchange lecturer at Kingston University for the third consecutive year and lectured on this project during January 2014. On her return Bergh implemented many of the learning at Kingston University to her curriculum.

“It is a privilege to have experienced an international design education approach to the discipline of fashion design,” Bergh said.

The changes to the curriculum have resulted in improved quality of work submitted by the CPUT student’s portfolios, as observed by the experts here and in London.

Tracey Hodgson, Design Head at Woolworths concurs “CPUT’s design curriculum has benefitted a great deal,” said Hodgson.

She adds: “There has been marked improvement in the quality of the portfolios submitted to us by students at CPUT.  We are so impressed with the submissions that we asked the winning students from each campus to design windows for our iconic V&A Waterfront store to coincide with ‘Cape Town City of Design 2014’.”

Woolworths continues to support and employ many young designers, including David West. A number of the learners who have participated in the program have been recruited by Woolworths.

Hodgson concluded that this initiative is an example of how the industry can help to nurture young talent. “This programme has been a labour of love for us. The industry and other educational institutes should support programmes such as this one to ensure that the industry continues to grow and the young design talent in this country is nurtured.”