joanne matthews | creative director at fad

Fashion isn’t the easiest industry to break into but that’s exactly why FAD (Fashion Awareness Direct) exists. The charity helps young people get into fashion by improving access to and diversity in the industry as well as offering hands-on training though projects like Fashion Futures, which is currently on a drive for fresh talent. Meet Creative Director Joanne Matthews…

Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?

I live in Stoke Newington…it has a creative and alternative feel, and links to historical dissenters like Mary Wollstonecraft and Daniel Defoe. There are great green spaces including Clissold Park and lovely terraced streets. It’s great to be within walking distance of both vibey Dalston and the tranquillity of Woodberry Wetlands. It has lots of independent stores, great Turkish shops like Antepilier baklava shop and London’s best greengrocer, Newington Green Fruit & Veg.

Why was FAD founded and what is the charity’s mission? 

FAD was founded 20 years ago in 1998. We help young people make it in fashion. We work with the industry to campaign for fair access, improved diversity and better representation.

What/who has been one of your biggest success stories to date?

We’re celebrating our 20th birthday by publishing 20 stories of FAD graduates who are doing great things in the fashion industry. Our most famous alumna is Grace Wales Bonner, who’s an incredibly talented designer with such an intelligent, poetic approach, and is putting across important and nuanced viewpoints on identity. But I’m equally proud of some of our graduates who, although they’re not in the headlines, are doing great things in the industry. Daisy Boateng, for example, who’s a Marketing Director at L’Oreal; Philip Luu who’s a talented pattern cutter, FAD trustee and possibly the hardest working, most determined person I’ve ever met or Tihara Smith, who just produced an incredible graduate collection inspired by her identity as a Black British Londoner and the traditional crafts of the Caribbean – she also writes a blog, Tizz Tazz which offers really practical advice and guidance to other young people who want to study fashion. The amazing young people I’ve had the privilege to work with are my inspiration and my motivation.

Talk us through your Fashion Futures project and partnership with Fashion Scout. 

Fashion Futures is our flagship project, which has been running since 2005. It’s a programme of hands-on, practical workshops which brings young Londoners together with professionals from across the fashion industry, who pass on the knowledge, skills and experience needed to get a foot on the creative career ladder. This year, 70 young creatives have participated in the programme, developing key skills from research and design to technical drawing, pattern cutting and garment construction. Their work has been inspired by the influence of global cultures on the development of British design. We’ve been working with Fashion Scout since 2008 – they host the fashion show which is the culmination of Fashion Futures and which closes their LFW programme. We’re proud that our young people are the very youngest designers present on the London Fashion Week schedule.

Describe your perfect day in London. 

I’m a mum, and on my perfect London day I’ll be accompanied by my daughter Elsie Joan, who’s nearly 3. We’d take a walk down to Dalston and swing by Ridley Road for some picnic food and to absorb the energy of the market. Then we’d hop on the Overground at Dalston Junction and take the train down to Forest Hill for the Horniman Museum – we’ll play the fantastic giant outdoor instruments and have picnic in the gardens overlooking the beautiful view of London. After lunch – a visit to the butterfly house, aquarium and alpacas, before we head back home to Hackney. Dinner is in our favourite Turkish restaurant, Devran on Stoke Newington Road, and a stop off in the green space of Butterfield Green before a gelato (has to be watermelon) from Romeo & Giulieta on Albion Road.