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Leanne MedleyEdward Sexton
• Born – 02/03/1984
• Mentor – Claire Emerson
• Education - Newham College

What is your role at Edward Sexton?

I am an apprentice coat maker.


When did you first become interested in tailoring?

It is something I always wanted to do but never had the guts to do. I am one of the older apprentices and so for years I held off from pursuing it until I decided to move to London from Manchester. Edward was one of my top choices so I was very lucky to call here on the day somebody was leaving and they took me on doing some work experience.


What is your educational background?

After school I went and completed a National Diploma in fashion and clothing which was very hands on and I realised I really enjoyed the technical side, so I completed a Higher National Diploma in Manchester. The course had a bespoke tailoring unit which I really enjoyed. After a fair few years of running my own cafe in Manchester I decided to bite the bullet and move to London to attend Newham College and study the pre-apprenticeship bespoke tailoring course.


Who gave you your first opportunity in tailoring?

Edward gave me my first chance; I did the first course in Newham College but knew I didn’t want to spend three years doing it. I called up a lot of tailoring houses and was offered part time experience at Chittleborough and Morgan and even an apprenticeship with a tailoring house in the city. However I came here for the meeting and I think at first they were a bit hesitant because of my age but they gave me a go and took me on.


What is a day in the life like at Edward Sexton?

It’s loud and busy; and ever changing. The work can vary a lot. You could have a week were you will be repeating the same thing over and over or another where you are learning lots of new things. It’s a variety of work, Claire and I work a lot on womenswear, we also do a lot of alterations and sometimes work on trousers and waistcoats so I am learning so many different skills.


Is there anything you had wished you had known before you started this journey?

How long it would take to complete the apprenticeship. People did tell me that it would be a long road but you can never really imagine just how long the journey will be until you start it. I also wished I had known how little money I would receive along the way, I am not complaining because I know what I am working towards, and I feel very lucky to work where I do. I just don’t think I was prepared for how long I would have to be the poor friend out of my group.


What has been your most exciting moment at Edward Sexton?

Completing my first baste by myself was really satisfying, especially getting the sleeves in for the first time and them working, that was really exciting and rewarding.


What are you working on right now?

I am currently finishing the baste of a grey jacket for one of our female customers. It is a flexible mohair cloth and it’s going very well. Making women’s jacket gives me the opportunity to work with a wider range of cloth and colour; but it’s harder because a woman’s body shape is more difficult to fit, but we relish the challenge here.


What is your favourite aspect of tailoring?

I like the fact that bespoke tailoring combines the creative and the technical. You follow a precise set of rules on how to make a jacket but you have the opportunity to use your creative side. I also love that I am constantly learning; every day of the apprenticeship is worth it because each day you are discovering something new.


What advice would you give to anybody who wants to get into the bespoke tailoring industry?

Try and find out as much information as possible. Visit tailoring houses and talk to makers and cutters; they have all been through it and can give you advice and invaluable knowledge. It is a lot of work over a long period of time, you start at the bottom so you will sweep, mop and make the teas. I am the unofficial electrician here so I fix the boilers; I do all I can to help. It’s going to be four or more years of having no money so you really have to love it and want it.