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Newham College lecturers could be taking Savile Row to Manila

Mark Higgins, left, and Riza Bulawin, centre, met with Victoria Townsend, right, from Newham College Mark Higgins, left, and Riza Bulawin, centre, met with Victoria Townsend, right, from Newham College

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
2:53 PM

Lecturers at Newham College are set to export a Savile Row style tailoring industry in the Philippines.

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The College’s tailoring team recently submitted proposals for new bespoke tailoring courses to a leading fashion school in the capital, Manila.

Slim’s Fashion and Art School’s interest began last year after the government’s British Council told its owners about the College’s work with Savile Row tailoring companies.

Victoria Townsend, lecturer and bespoke tailor, spent a week in February visiting the school and finding out about the country’s industry.

She said: “We’re expecting to hear very soon the response to our proposals for a 24-week pilot course.

“The Philippines doesn’t have a significant bespoke menswear industry at present but there is strong demand for handcrafted clothes.

“Our courses, adapted for the school, could start an industry that in years from now could be a Savile Row for the country and the region.”

Victoria wrote proposals that included course design, teacher training, help in sourcing materials and equipment, and reviewing the courses.

The plan is for a Newham College lecturer to stay in the South East Asian country to help set up the course and to train local tutors.

In Manila, she met the school’s owners, Mark Higgins and his sister, Sandra Higgins, leading tutor, Riza Bulawin, local clothing manufacturers and representatives from the British Council and the UK embassy.

Mark Higgins received support from the British Council last year to visit London and Savile Row. He spent two days at the College reviewing how students are trained.

Chris Hall, Newham College’s fashion and tailoring training manager, said: “A leading fashion designer from the Far East came to Britain because of our world-wide reputation for bespoke menswear tailoring.

“There’s a lot of potential with this collaboration. It would be wonderful to see a course set up and an industry grow in Manila inspired in part by Newham College.”

Victoria is an industry expert working for award-winning tailors, Richard James. She teaches on the College’s bespoke tailoring programme and also represents the College in meetings with Savile Row Bespoke Association.

Newham College has worked with the Savile Row Bespoke Association since 2006 to provide trained tailoring apprentices. More than 40 of its ex-students work in Savile Row.

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