Frances Corner

LONDON — The Zegna Foundation has teamed with London College of Fashion on a tailored clothing project aimed at supporting young, recovering addicts in Italy and female prisoners in the U.K., WWD has learned. An announcement is expected today.

Conscious Contemporary Tailoring unites the work of students at LCF with weavers at Italy’s well-known San Patrignano Community, and women at Making for Change. The latter is a social enterprise set up by LCF and Britain’s Ministry of Justice that provides skills and employment for serving and recently released offenders to help them reintegrate into society.

The idea was the brainchild of Italy’s Zegna Foundation, which works on environmental projects, and seeks to foster social well-being and cultural development in local communities.

In February, Tom Adams, course leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Menswear at LCF, and Bethany Williams, a men’s wear designer and recent graduate of the college, visited San Patrignano and worked with young women to create fabrics using the traditional technique of handloom. Samples were produced, made by interlacing industrial waste materials, textile fibers, paper and plastic wires.

The weaving center at San Patrignano is more than three decades old and is meant to give the young women in rehab a chance to learn how to create textiles with their hands. They mainly produce accessories in fine yarns, with various finishes and hand-made details.

Antonella Boari, San Patrignano’s textile manager, said the women were excited about participating in the project, and added that the “expressive language of fashion is capable of breaking social and linguistic boundaries.” She said the project was also proof that the handloom, “ancient and precious, can be state-of-the-art and show the application of an old handcraft to a contemporary taste.”

The fabrics created at San Patrignano formed the basis and inspiration for a design competition involving 70 London College of Fashion men’s wear students.

Earlier this week in London, the college chose six winning designs that will be made by women at Making for Change’s fashion training and manufacturing unit, which is based in a women’s prison in the U.K. The final part of the project will be in the fall, when a small collection of clothing and accessories will be ready to be presented to the public.

Anna Zegna, one of the three family members running the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, is particularly attached to this project “because it recalls the attention to social issues that was so dear to my grandfather [the company’s founder Ermenegildo Zegna], and that remains intact through the spirit and commitment” of the foundation.

Professor Frances Corner, head of London College of Fashion, said the project comes under the college’s work of Better Lives, “a term we use at LCF to describe how fashion can be used as a discipline to drive change, build a sustainable future, and improve the way we live.”

She added that education is a key factor in the rehabilitation process and in keeping people out of prison. “Social enterprises such as Making for Change and San Patrignano are vital in ensuring access to the creative industries for all; they give individuals the chance to become independent and contribute to society in a more positive way,” she said.

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