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Fashion for Free! Competition for Schools

David Nieper Fashion Design Scholarship

The David Nieper Fashion for Free! schools competition is designed to give young people a real behind-the-scenes window into the world of fashion and manufacturing – inspiring them to develop their creative talents, and learn skills for the future.

Every year, we challenge hundreds of local junior and secondary students, aged 4-16, to design and make fashionable outfits using only recycled materials and without spending any money.  The students get to show off their sewing talents too, with each garment created incorporating a sewing skill such as embroidery, hand sewing, knitting, quilting and crochet.  After judging all the entries, we invite the schools and students with the best designs to a very special Awards Day where trophies and certificates are awarded and everyone enjoys a tour of our workshops and learns new skills.

BBC Film 2013 Event

We welcomed more than 180 pupils, teachers, parents and grandparents to our 2013 Awards Day. BBC East Midlands recorded the event and the appearance of main presenter Anne Davies, added to the excitement of the day.  She also impressed us all with her sewing skills.  


On the day, Jessica Rawson aged 13 from Mill Hill School in Ripley was awarded Gold.  Megan Saxton and Kinga Graczyk, both aged 14 from Heanor Gate Science College picked up Silver, and Euan Brailsford aged five from Copthorpe Community School in Alfreton won Bronze for his creation. Students from schools, including Leys Junior School, Tibshelf Townend Junior School and Belper School received highly commended certificates for their talented entries.  


Commenting on the day, Kathy Mountford, teacher at Heanor Gate Science College, said: “We really value working with local employers and taking part in competitions like Fashion for Free!, which allows our students to design and create items to a brief, as they would in a working environment.  The students took a lot away from this experience and those, who might be considering going into fashion in the future, will have a better understanding of how the industry operates.”

More information

The next Fashion for Free! competition will take place in 2014.  See here for more information, or to put forward your school to take part, please contact:  

Melanie White
Customer Services Manager
Tel: 01773 522 698
email: [email protected]

Comments from Teachers and Students:

“You have motivated and inspired the children to commit to recycling as well as to be creative.”  “Formal lessons seem to have been taken over by discussion of what everyday things can actually be worn.”

Teacher at Ripley's Mill Hill School, Gemma Clark, said: "It was a really nice design which was made and decorated with appliqué flowers.  Jessica had recycled them from another dress, which was part of the competition, and it was very well put together.

Five-year-old Euan Brailsford, from Alfreton's Copthorne Infant School, one of the youngest entrants in the competition, said: “I cut out part of my sister's old T-shirt, which she didn't need because it doesn't fit her, and I got some black paper as well.  I also added a springy piece in the middle. I had a really great day."

Head teacher Amanda Leslie, said: "Euan did a fantastic job to finish third against so many other people. I was quite surprised because of the competition but he really deserved it.   "I could tell he was thinking his design through and was spending time on it. I'm really proud of how well he's done."

Another pupil, Constance Curran, five, also received an award. Ms Leslie, said: "It was a lovely day for the school to get that recognition and both Euan and Constance did brilliantly."


A selection of pictures from the 2012 Awards Day. 


A selection of pictures from the 2011 Awards Day.

Fashion for Free Schools Competition David Nieper Schools Competition


For more information on David Nieper and 50 years of a fashion house download our booklet here (5 Mb).

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