Life in Lockdown – The Tailoring Academy
We recently caught up with one of our ambassadors, Brita Hirsch, who is the founder of The Tailoring Academy in Macclesfield, to find out what life has been like during lockdown.
How have things been for you generally during lockdown?
Very busy, which is great but there has been a lot of hard work. The government announcement about the lockdown came quite suddenly at the start of our second term. Within a few days, we had to switch from in-person to remote training delivery, with all the complexities that entails. As you can imagine, a practical topic such as tailoring isn’t the easiest thing to do teach virtually, particularly with all the equipment that is involved, so we had to ensure very quickly that our students had all the necessary tools to continue their projects from home.
My former apprentice and now co-trainer Quentin put in a lot of hard work to facilitate our live video stream, and we were able to continue with our syllabus full time. Our students actually haven’t lost any contact hours in nine weeks of remote learning, which is an achievement we’re proud of. We were also really impressed with all of our students’ ability to adapt to the situation and the work they have been producing has been of exceptionally high quality.
Outside of working virtually, we are receiving more interest for our future courses than ever before. I think the Covid situation in many ways has encouraged people to follow their ambitions and focus on their own self-development. We have actually seen an influx of applications from people who already have degrees but are looking to further their knowledge. Our offering of heritage tailoring techniques and bespoke pattern construction really seems to address a gap in the market. Practical skills training can be a great next step for graduates who may already have some experience in garment making.
Photo credit: Jill Jennings at @jilljphoto
Are there any exciting things for The Tailoring Academy in the future?
In the three years since the founding of the academy, we have outgrown our current premises, a beautiful attic space in a former silk mill. I have been on the lookout for a suitable alternative for some time now, with sufficient space for growth in response to the interest we are receiving from around the world in mind.
I am absolutely thrilled to say that we have just been able to secure such premises: from September, we’ll have a much larger workshop, excellent light, 360 degree views of town and nearby country side (the Peak District!) and all round fantastic facilities all to ourselves.
We will be based in the very vicinity of the town centre and train station, right in the middle of an exciting new development that is looking to regenerate this historic part of town, in a sustainable way. We are delighted to play our part in this future vision for our town and wider community.
The move also brings with it the opportunity to increase our intake whilst still maintaining safe distancing at the workshop as introduced last year. We are re-opening admissions with immediate effect, offering two more places on our Level 5 Diploma course starting September.
We are also currently working on adding another layer of accreditation, which will enable us to enrol international students from next year. This is a truly exciting prospect for the academy, as we are receiving around 50% of applications from candidates in NZ, AUS, the US, CAN, the EU and further afield.
The UK really is the cradle of bespoke tailoring and it will be fantastic to be able to offer our programme internationally. Watch this space for the announcement, which we will hopefully be able to make soon.