Graduates from fashion's "cradle" of talent chase elusive dream

Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:04pm EST
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By Dasha Afanasieva

LONDON (Reuters) - As London Fashion Week closes, Britain's budding designers must tackle the challenge of finding employment in an economy where most recent university graduates are struggling for work and in an industry that is notoriously competitive.

London has a reputation as a cradle of new fashion talent, with the Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design boasting an illustrious list of alumni including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane and John Galliano.

The London-based school showcases its graduate talent every year in a show for fashion week, luring headhunters looking for up-and-coming talent to offer their labels.

A lucky few will be tapped on the shoulder for positions at top brands. But most will have to settle for employment that doesn't advance their dreams beyond internships that pay little or nothing at all and jobs on the bottom of the career ladder.

More than one in three of all recent UK graduates were employed in lower skilled jobs in the final three months of 2011, according to the UK statistics office.

Veteran fashion journalist and trustee of graduate fashion week Hilary Alexander told Reuters the numbers of graduates also seems to be increasing each time she attends the show at Central Saint Martins.

"Every year there seem to be more...Obviously they all can't become fashion designers," Alexander said.

Figures from the University of Kent show there are more than 4,000 textile and design graduates in the UK competing for around 500 jobs every year.   Continued...

A model presents a creation from the Meadham Kirchhoff Autumn/Winter 2013 collection during London Fashion Week, February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett