Young People Fashioning Ideas for the Future
Young People Fashioning Ideas for the Future

Young People Fashioning Ideas for the Future

The project will recruit a group of young people, aged between 13 and 20, from Teesdale YMCA and Auckland Youth and Community Centre who will gain fashion design and textiles upcycling skills, vocational business skills and an insight into retailing. Durham County Council’s Strategic Waste Management team is providing the second-hand clothing for the young people to upcycle, producing ‘new’ accessories and garments to sell in a ‘one-day’ retailing extravaganza in a pop-up shop in Barnard Castle.

The young people will gain valuable practical skills in a series of workshops delivered by the Museum’s new Bowes Centre for Art, Craft and Design headed up by its Director, Matthew Read and the Museum’s Education team. Expert fashion advice and practical skills such as pattern cutting and garment construction will be delivered by Museum staff and TICE (This Is Creative Enterprise).

Ruth Smith, from Durham County Council will share with the group information about its Textiles Reuse and Up-cycling Campaign. Currently 7% of refuse waste, black bin waste, in County Durham is textiles. Durham County Council is looking at innovative ways of raising the profile of textiles recycling and reuse, and together with the Bowes Centre for Art, Craft and Design will give the young people the knowledge they need to take social action. Social action involves activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, all of which will enable the young people to make a positive difference to their communities and develop the skills and knowledge that employers look for. 

County Durham Community Foundation’s Youth Social Action Programme supports social action in County Durham which is part of #iwill, a UK-wide campaign aiming to get 6 out of 10 young people involved in social action by 2020. Big Lottery Fund and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport have invested £20 million each to the #iwill fund to support young people to access high quality social action opportunities.

Mentoring from fashion design and fashion marketing undergraduates from Northumbria University will give the participants an insight into a career in fashion and manufacturing, from looking at trends to material suitability and structure, and sharing experiences from their degree courses. The legacy of the project will be that the young people end with an array of contacts and resources to make informed decisions about pursuing a career in fashion. The project’s digital output will raise the profile and need for recycling and highlight themes such as the ethics of manufacturing and sustainability of the UK textile industry.

The project is looking for an empty shop in Barnard Castle to be used by the young people for a week at the end of August. Any offers of premises and shop fittings or in-kind expertise would be gratefully received. Please contact

Matthew Read, Director of the Bowes Centre for Art, Craft and Design said: “With vocational training content, offering developmental opportunities to community youth groups, The Bowes Centre is delighted to support Junk Fashion.”

Margaret Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer from County Durham Community Foundation said: “This is a brilliant example of young people engaging with issues of waste and recycling whilst giving them the chance to gain new skills. We were delighted to support the initiative through our #iwill funding programme.”

Julia Dunn, Education Coordinator at The Bowes Museum added: “This is an inspiring opportunity for young people to develop not only the practical skills of creating an item from recycled materials and promoting these; but importantly to find out more about the impact of fashion on the environment and how to communicate the issues to the wider community and provoke a reaction. We hope that young people will be motivated by the Catwalking exhibition and challenge themselves to adopt some of the design influences of those on show and interpret these into their own ideas.”

Ruth Smith, External Projects Officer at Durham County Council, commented: “So many of the clothes and textiles put into rubbish bins could be reused and this project will ensure young people are made aware of this issue and what they can do about it.

“As well as gaining great vocational skills and an insight into the fashion industry, this project will enable those taking part to make a positive difference both to the environment and to the wider community.”

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