Discussing fashion for social change with Jess Amaral

Discussing fashion for social change with Jess Amaral

Discussing fashion for social change with Jess Amaral
Jess Amaral with a workshop participant | Photo by Eugenie Flochel.

“It’s important to enable the next generation of design change-makers. We are convening co-creation spaces and it’s great to give opportunities, voice and agency to young people, and nurture the talent that we have at London College of Fashion.”

– Dr Francesco Mazzarella

For the past few months, we have been very fortunate to collaborate with LCF graduate Jess Amaral, who has worked as Assistant Cultural Producer on several CSF projects. We are reflecting on her experience with us, whilst looking towards the future, in view of activating further positive change in our student and graduate body, and the diverse communities we engage with.

Hi Jess. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your practice?

Hello, I’m Jess Amaral. I graduated from LCF in 2022. I did a Fashion Sportswear degree and I’ve been on placement for the last six months at Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UAL.

What led you to do this placement? What were you doing before, and why did you decide to apply for this?

In the second year of my degree, I became really engaged in sustainable fashion and design activism. I came back from my placement year in the fashion industry and decided I wanted to move away from product design, and instead focus more on community arts and social design, exploring how fashion can be used as a vehicle for positive change. I had a really supportive tutor, Jessica Williamson, who allowed me to alter my final brief and run community textile reconstruction workshops instead of making a fashion collection. I think that this freedom ultimately made me realize that I wanted to work collaboratively with people and head in that direction instead.

I became interested in creative events and cultural programming, and I felt like I wanted to do more training in this. So, I applied for the Creative Newham ‘Cultural Producers Programme’ and was lucky enough to gain one of the eight places. The programme offered a week of learning and seminars from those already in the field, a mentor, and a 45 day placement.

person smiling, covering their eyes with their hand
Jess holding a blanket inherited by her grandmother, representing her cultural heritage | Photo by JC Candanedo.

It sounds like this placement was useful to you.

Yes, it was my dream placement! I have always looked up to CSF throughout my time at the University, so I was overjoyed when I was offered this placement. I’ve learned valuable professional skills in project administration, and event and programme management, under two people who I respect highly – Francesco Mazzarella and Lucy Orta.

“I’ve come out of my placement with much more confidence in my own abilities, a really supportive network of people, and a better understanding of how to progress in this field that I didn’t think I would have the experience for.”

What did you do on this placement?

What have you learned from the projects?

I have gained a clear understanding of my professional future and I feel like I’ve started to get a clearer picture on how to get there. I think I’ve also been able to develop personal skills in communication as well as project administration, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of communities and people.

On project ReGo, I was lucky enough to play multiple roles – I was working in the background supporting with the project administration, and I was also facilitating and delivering workshops.

As I had experience teaching children before my placement, I was able to work in museums and facilitate workshops as part of The Lost Species project. I was also able to improve my facilitation skills and gain more experience in the arts and creative industry.

person smiling and holding up an embroidered textile piece
Jess holding the textile autobiography that she created during the ‘Decolonising Fashion and Textiles’ project | Photo by JC Candanedo.

What have you been doing since your placement ended, and what are your future plans?

For the last month I’ve been lucky enough to continue working on coordinating The Lost Species project, now under the UAL Climate Emergency Network. I hope to find a job assisting in community arts or community events. I’m also really interested in the link between community arts and health, and I’m open to opportunities that come my way.

I just want to say a big thank you to everybody at CSF. To Francesco and Lucy primarily, as well as everyone that I met along the way – Seher Mirza, Nicole Zisman, JC Candanedo, Alisa Ruzavina, Cassie Quinn, Robin Lockhart, Cheski Granger, Jasmine Karis, Abbi Fletcher, and so many more. Everybody has been so welcoming, supportive and kind. I feel very warm inside and thankful for the opportunity!

Thank you Jess, you have enabled us to achieve a wide range of things at different levels, and we have learned a lot from you. I look forward to seeing your future career unpack and develop. We’re also very grateful to Rosetta Arts for connecting us because I think it was a perfect match, suiting your current skills and aspirations for the future.

“Take care, stay connected, and be courageous. If you take a value-led approach, I’m sure you can create a career that suits you – one that is meaningful and contributes to creating positive social change.”

– Dr Francesco Mazzarella

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