CHIPS ARE DOWN SO TOP FASHION DESIGNER KAREN MILLEN DONATES FABRIC
Oasis, All Saints And Karen Millen Donate Fabric To African School. A 20 foot container full of fabrics donated by top UK fashion labels is set to arrive in a fashion school in South Africa set up by designer Karen Millen for students affected by HIV.
Despite charity fundraising being down some 60%, high street names and designers including Oasis, All Saints, and Jenny Packham have donated fabrics towards the fashion school which is a project of Africa based charity HOPE HIV.
The project began when Karen Millen, scheduled a series of meetings to raise funds for her fashion school which opened in Pietermaritzburg near Durban in 2007. The managing director of Oasis said that due to the recession, the store could not give any money to the project, but could support it with a pallet of fabrics from the company’s warehouse.
The pledge led Karen to meet with other leading designers and stores to ask if they would match the Oasis pledge.
The result, some few months later is a container of fabrics with an estimated retail value of £15,000.
The container, some 20 foot long holds over 200 rolls of fabrics including a mixture of cottons, linings, wools, jersey, printed silks, and silk chiffon that has a retail value of around £20 per metre. Also included in the shipment were several boxes of buttons and zips.
Donations of fabrics have not come from the chains themselves but from their leading designers and managing directors.
Karen’s former business partner Kevin Stanford, who now heads up fashion chain All Saints donated clothes which Karen since sold to friends and family raising £3,000 which has covered shipping and transportation costs for the fabric.
The MD of Karen Millen UK, and fabric merchants Misan Associates have also pledged material for the school.
Picking up the fabric from different locations initially posed a problem, however a van was loaned by All Saints and driven by Karen’s PA’s father. Another van was also donated to the project by the shipping company.
Karen Millen said: This is a prime example of how giving to charities is not just about giving money, but also about people’s time, commitment and dedication.
She added: Starting this project has given me a great deal of satisfaction and what’s even more satisfying is that others are keen to help and show the same enthusiasm it takes to make such things happen.
The shipment aboard MSC Lausanne left Felixstowe on 15 June and is due to arrive in Durban in the first week of July where it will be met at Durban Docklands by representatives of the school in Pietermaritzburg.
In 2007, the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) at Rochester teamed up with former student Karen Millen to provide teaching and funding for the project.
UCA’s Sheelagh Wright who is also Karen’s former tutor said: The fabric donated is of a very high quality and will provide the school with enough material for at least a couple of years.
Despite the chips being down, the fashion industry, the University and many generous third parties have come together and have made the shipping of this fabric possible.
Each year the Karen Millen Gateway School of Fashion offers 15 fashion students an opportunity to learn their trade. Graduates of the one year programme vie to win one of six places at the school’s own fashion label which designs and makes clothes to sell locally. Two students are also given work running a shop attached to the school.
Karen Millen graduated from the University’s forebear the Medway College of Art and Design in 1981. Her fashion business grew to include 130 Karen Millen stores internationally.
Since selling her chain in 2004, Karen now dedicates a substantial amount of time to her two chosen charities, the Hope HIV fashion school and Teens Unite which cares for young people from 13 to 24 suffering life limiting illnesses.