leslie
holden

head of fashion and design amfi
October 2017
Isrid van Geuns - Recruitment - Specializing in fashion and luxury
interview by Isrid

'We need more brave companies'

Fashion design
“I was born in Scotland where I studied Fashion Design. Following that, I got my Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London. My career as a fashion designer was one of diversity and intensity. I was employed by fashion houses like Byblos, Stefanel, Debenhams and Alfred Dunhill. I travelled the world looking for inspiration and I created new collections catering to a higher segment in men’s fashion. I had my own studio for about six years, which I set up with a partner and we designed and produced collections for big labels in the fashion industry. As production moved to the Far East and we saw a significant drop in sales, we sold off the company. Aside from working, I took on an active roll as a teacher in Fashion and Marketing at a London location, teaching an American course. Closing my business allowed me to focus on teaching alone and I found myself travelling between the schools’ numerous campuses to do so. I even set up a new fashion curriculum to teach. I moved to Belgium in the nineties with my life partner since I felt it was time for me to move into a new direction. My partner is from Belgium but aside from that we had no other link to this country so we had to built up our network and connections from scratch. I took on everything I could get my hands on: teaching the fashion training ARTEZ in Arnhem, being a life coach and freelance designing. In the end I was approached by a head hunter to go work at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.”

How would you describe your work at the AMFI?
“I officially hold two different titles at the AMFI. The first being ‘Head of the Fashion and Design department, the other, ‘Head of the Masters program.’ I take part in our management team in which we all hold different tasks and responsibilities. My portfolio consists of leadership in the Design department as well as the Master program. I take on an active roll in promoting the AMFI worldwide and my goal is to build meaningful relations and cooperation with other courses and companies. As the school’s ambassador I represent the AMFI and I promote the importance of connecting. I strongly believe in networking, I like to use my network frequently, most people view me as a nice guy to hang around with. I also like to take part in committees like the International Foundation of Fashion Technology and ‘The World Partnership Project.’ “

'There is always a solution.’ Learn to find joy and excitement in searching for answers.'

Quality
“At work I focus on growth and quality. I only make a connection if I am convinced it is to improve quality. I think it is important to realise we tend to look at quality from a superficial point of view, rather than to understand how it makes us feel on the inside. I want to contribute to validate the strong position of the AMFI as a high quality education and one of the best in the world. AMFI is a Dutch institute with a global outlook. The WFC would have to make it her mission as well, to propagate her own quality to the outside world.”

Working together with the WFC
“There has been a longstanding cooperation between the AMFI and the WFC. We organise conferences, fashion shows and graduation events in the Beursplaza. I enjoy working together, the WFC team is always willing to lend a hand and most team members I know by name. We are in the midst of a new project, a large showroom in Tower four, we will be using to accommodate our second year Master class.”
Learning how to be an entrepreneur
This master program called ‘Fashion Enterprise Creation’, was launched in 2016 and takes two years to complete. The program teaches you how to successfully start up your own company in fashion and what it takes to run it well. The content of this program is based on this process. We believe in diversity and that is the reason we offer this multi faceted program. The only requirement we ask is for our students to have a Bachelor degree and a great idea. Last year we started out with a class of fifteen students and for this year we are already up to 22 applications. We see students with a variety in background of all different ages. AMFI was looking at a suitable location for our second year students to work from and register their businesses and the WFC answered the call!” What can students do in return to the WFC? “Students can add to any company by bringing in rejuvenation and fresh ideas. I hope the arrival of the students will create a flurry of activity and a positive buzz. I would be curious to see if they could bring a new and fresh approach to the work method at the WFC.”

Motto
“My motto is: ‘There is always a solution.’ Learn to find joy and excitement in searching for answers.”


Published in the WFC 50 year anniversary book
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