Creative art students from across secondary schools in Birmingham have been showing their flare for fashion with their unique Shakespearean-themed sweatshirt designs.

The decorated sweaters, which are set to be displayed at Selfridges Birmingham as part of the store’s Shakespeare ReFASHIONed celebrations, were created as part of an enterprise challenge in partnership with Ahead Partnership’s ‘Make The Grade Birmingham’ programme.

The students, from six schools in the city studying GCSE Art in Years 9 and 10, were provided with five black sweatshirts and then challenged to refashion them based on a Shakespearean play, in a way that would be representative of Shakespeare in the 21st century.

After weeks of hard work, the winning designs, were then picked and revealed at a breakfast event at Birmingham Library this month (July) and will now be displayed in the iconic store throughout the summer break.

The project was designed to develop students’ key skills in teamwork, communication and creativity - and also give them the opportunity to have their work on display for members of the public to view, alongside the store’s tribute to Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary year of his death.

The enterprising challenge follows on from a similar partnership earlier this year where youngsters from primary schools across Birmingham and Staffordshire were invited to explore what sustainability means by decorating white paper globes to represent the earth. The winning designs were also displayed at Selfridges Birmingham.

Make The Grade Birmingham’s aim is to create  long term partnerships between businesses and education to help equip young people with the skills they need to prepare for the world of work through inspirational activities.

The sweatshirts will also form part of Selfridge’s calendar of events both in and out of store to celebrate local talent, art, fashion and creativity, and the incredible works of the Bard himself. The Shakespeare ReFASHIONed campaign will include live theatre performances in and out of the store, fashion collaborations and some of the most interesting artefacts held within Birmingham’s library and museums, believed to be displayed for the first time outside a museum setting.

One of the winning designers, 15-year-old Sian Pryce of St Albans Academy in Highgate, said: “Working with Selfridges has been an amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s helped contribute to our art skills and has showed that we can achieve new things. I enjoy learning about Shakespeare - and have acted with the RSC through school before - but I really liked working on this costume. It was interesting to make Shakespeare modern but still have an old fashioned effect.”

Adam Hockney, general manager of Selfridges Birmingham, said: “We have been thrilled with the hard work the students have put into this project. Selecting the winners was a difficult decision, but I’m sure each and every one of the students are proud of their efforts and it was great to see them alongside their designs at the breakfast. There was a wide variety of themes and interpretations and we were very impressed with everything they did.”

Julian Buttery, Ahead Partnership Development Director said: “Working with Selfridges and the six schools on the Refashioned Shakespeare Project is another great example of ‘Make the Grade Birmingham’ inspiring young people.”


Schools taking part included:

St Albans Academy, Highgate - Overall winners

Ark Kings Academy, Shannon Road Birmingham.

Ark Boulton Academy, Golden Hillock Road.  

King Edward VI, Aston

Cockshut Hill Technology College

Great Barr School


The winning designs will appear in Selfridges on Level Three Ladies Street Fashion until the end of the summer holidays.

For more information on Selfridges’ Shakespeare ReFASHIONed campaign, please visit:

PR by Clive Reeves PR Birmingham