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Designer Jimmy Choo launches new fashion academy in London

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Luxury footwear designer Jimmy Choo has announced that he is launching a new fashion academy in London to offer a “fresh and transformative take on fashion higher education”.

Located in London’s Mayfair, the JCA | London Fashion Academy will offer the next generation of fashion design talent courses that combine the latest teachings in contemporary design with the entrepreneurial skills required to set-up and drive successful fashion brands.

Opening its doors in September, Professor Jimmy Choo explained in a statement that the JCA would introduce a “groundbreaking incubation model” where students will be nurtured as emerging professional designers through a mentoring approach and will be provided with a level of access to internationally recognised design leaders “unrivalled by traditional colleges and universities”.

Choo added: “The Academy has been years in the planning, so we are delighted to be opening its doors this September. London is a global fashion hub and has created many of the world’s most exciting and groundbreaking designers. Rarely though do these designers leave higher education armed with the combined knowledge, skills and resources needed to create, launch and build brands successfully on the global stage.

“The Academy will help bridge those gaps and truly nurture internationally focused and highly entrepreneurial design talent.”

JCA | London Fashion Academy to open in September to “revolutionise” fashion higher education

The new fashion academy aims to “revolutionise” higher education, added Choo, and students will undertake a syllabus curated by the footwear designer written in collaboration with the current director of teaching and learning, Susan Dillon. The curriculum will be based on Choo’s experiences of building his own luxury brand, as well as the “multifaceted skill sets which fashion designers increasingly need in today’s ultra-competitive multichannel global landscape”.

The key to JCA is to offer students not only a “couture-styled experience” but also to encourage them to establish themselves creatively and commercially as “design-led business people” by utilising teaching staff that are part of the fashion industry. On the academy’s website, it states that currently, 50 percent of its staff are working as fashion practitioners.

The key to this educational approach the institute explained is a commitment to commercial incubation, providing students with a creative hub with a “ready made fashion community that works to support and provide vital networks around their business needs”.

Stephen Smith, chief executive and founder of the JCA | London Fashion Academy, added: “Fundamental to the DNA of the Academy is the focused interest in supporting aspiring designers to transition between higher education and entrepreneurship.

“At the Academy we will professionally incubate our students as emerging designers through a mentored approach, supporting them through our extensive network of global fashion contacts. This means our students will begin their professional lives from the moment they enter the Academy, developing their craft by establishing their own brand label, working in professional studios and through exhibiting, showcasing and trading in a luxury Mayfair location.”

Jimmy Choo to open a JCA | London Fashion Academy with an incubator approach to fashion design

The JCA has been supported by the government, with the academy undergoing a rigorous assessment by the Office for Students and its Quality Assurance Agency and was officially designated in autumn 2020.

The academy will offer four full-time courses for its opening year, supported by its validating partner, The University of West London. These will be Foundation Diploma in Fashion (1 year); BA (Hons) Fashion: Design, Branding and Entrepreneurship (3 years); BA (Hons) Fashion: Design and Accessories (3 years); and MA Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation (1 year).

Some of the facilities highlighted on the academy’s website include a dedicated design studio and newly fitted workshops equipped with industrial sewing machines, pattern cutting tables, and specialist sampling and fabrication facilities. There will also be onsite business incubation services to assist students to establish and develop their personal enterprise initiatives, as well as portable IT facilities and online and physical library facilities.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, said: “It is brilliant to see new exciting and innovative institutions expanding the boundaries of higher education as a result of Government reforms. It is vital that students gain the practical skills and hands-on experience that employers and industries need and the JCA’s revolutionary approach can help students hit the ground running into a successful career.”

JCA | London Fashion Academy adds that it will be more than just an educational academy, the Grade I period property, situated a stone’s throw from Savile Row, will also providing contemporary co-working spaces for fashion start-ups, gallery and exhibition space and a calendar of networking and fashion-focused events.

Image: courtesy of Jimmy Choo

JCA | London Fashion Academy
Jimmy Choo
The University of West London