In Conversation: Sabine Bourgeau, Showroom Manager

Students are the lifeblood of the fashion industry – they are the creative future. At YKK, we believe that one of our most important missions is to support fashion students wherever possible to help them achieve their goals.

Technical knowledge is so important in the education process.  Without it, a beautiful drawing cannot become a beautiful garment. Details matter. Details like fastenings. Yet a fashion design course often cannot cover such details in the level of intricacy that budding designers need to truly appreciate and understand their importance.  That’s where we come in, teaching these skills through our student workshop programme.

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Meet Sabine Bourgeau. Sabine is the manager of our flagship London Showroom in Shoreditch and our technical guru for all things YKK. When it comes to YKK products, there’s a lot Sabine would like to share. Since 2012, she has made it her mission to communicate this knowledge to students through specially organised technical workshops.

The inspiration, she says, came from visiting large fashion houses in Italy. ‘I came to realise that the designers and product managers at big fashion brands had very little technical understanding of zips as this knowledge is often completely missing from design courses. So, I started thinking about how best to impart my knowledge to designers, and I realised that the best way to do this is to reach them while they are still students. And that’s where it started.’

The Workshop Process

The two-hour technical workshops deliver an intensive crash course in all things zips – their  components and construction, versatility, terminology, and usage.

‘There are many different types of zip,’ says Sabine, ‘and students needs to understand which one is appropriate for a specific use, and why. We give students samples throughout the workshop, designed to offer a very visual and tactile experience. They learn to recognise the difference between a standard product and a high-end one, and appreciate the production processes involved. I also explain the correct terminology for zips to enable students to properly describe what they are looking for.’

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Design by one of the students from LCF, Sportswear

Why is this useful? ‘All designers know that a zip can be the hero of their design.  Even when it is just an invisible (but essential) component, it is important to be able to select the correct one for the garment. You can ruin a good design with the wrong detail.’

‘It’s not simply about technical details,’ adds Sabine. YKK’s collection of zips offers students huge creative scope through a variety of types, sizes, colours, materials and embellishments, and the workshop also aims to inspire students and designers with the vast range of possibilities YKK can offer for their designs.

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Almost 300 students from 17 different UK universities attended courses at the showroom in 2016, and more than 100 students have participated so far this year.

In fact, the workshops have been so successful that Sabine is in the process of fine-tuning the format so that it can be rolled out to fashion colleges across Europe. And the first workshop aimed at professional designers is due to take place this summer, following requests from within the industry.

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Workshop with teachers from fashion schools from all over the country during Graduate Fashion Week 2017.

Currently, the workshops only cover zips but Sabine would like to expand their scope to take in YKK’s broader product range, which includes studs, snaps, buttons and a variety of other fastenings.

All the workshops take place at our London Showroom, 154 Commercial Street, Shoreditch, and are completely free to attend. Each session can accommodate a maximum of 12 students at a time and they are organised on demand through fashion design courses.

‘I dream to see this workshop become part of the curriculum for every fashion school,’ says Sabine. ‘Any students or course leaders who would like to request a workshop – please get in touch.’

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Sabine with students from LCF, Accessories department.

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