Skip to main content

LCF graduate collaborates with homeless charity Shelter in new exhibition

Red shoes with extra long toes
Red shoes with extra long toes

Written by
Eleanor Harvey
Published date
28 September 2020

Conceptual fashion designer, and London College of Fashion (LCF) graduate, Jo Cope has joined up with Shelter for the upcoming ‘Shoes Have Names’ art exhibition. Part of London Craft Week, the free exhibition will be held at the housing and homelessness charity’s flagship ‘Boutique by Shelter’ shop in Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross. The exhibition will also be available online.

Photo of a woman
Photo courtesy of Jo Cope

Shoes Have Names

Jo paired 10 international artists, shoemakers and designers with a person who has been supported by Shelter’s frontline services. The end result is a collection of handmade, all-red artworks inspired by the personal experiences of real people facing homelessness. Each piece is named after the storyteller, to highlight their individuality and to remind people of the diverse range of stories told – that homelessness is something that can happen to anyone.

For Jo, the exhibition “uses the positive power of fashion to create greater public awareness of the issues around homelessness, particularly this year during the pandemic when more and more people have found themselves at risk.”

Group of people sat talking
Jo talking at the 'Shoes Have Names' meet up

How did the exhibition come about?

This exhibition is a continuation of Jo’s own work. Her practice is hand-crafted and crosses the boundaries of fashion, art, craft and performance, something which her time on the LCF MA Fashion Artefact course allowed her to develop. “I decided to use my time on the MA to really challenge the boundaries between fashion and art, I was in search of 'the new', and this started my journey towards what I call 'The Human Side Fashion'; creating shoes/clothing which not only pushed the boundaries of traditional making techniques but which could become objects which embodied and represented real-life human experiences.”

Jo approached the Shelter Boutique in Coal Drops Yard,

“I wanted to create a project which was community facing and that had a bigger social message and cause. I thought what [Boutique by Shelter] are doing is brilliant, the shop promotes sustainability and high end pre-loved fashion at a lower cost.

“I had an idea about bringing designers together to talk about their homeless stories - but particularly, as the project title suggests, I wanted each designer to create a shoe which recognised each individual by name.”

The fact that Jo works mostly in red cemented the project, “we are turning all of the stock red, as well as all of the exhibits, will be red. The red symbolises a call to action for issues such as the current housing crisis.”

Who are the artists involved? 

Jo wanted to invite designers from diverse design backgrounds; the concept was ‘from student to couturier’. Many of the artists involved are fellow LCF graduates, including Kristina Walsh who creates empathetic prosthetics and Jana Zornik. Also involved are Dr Ellen Sampson, Liz Ciokajlo as well as current LCF student Dan Charkow.

And what’s next for Jo? “I intend to continue to use my practice to push the formal boundaries within fashion while seeing how the shoe artworks I create can impact lives and tell stories – that for me is the bigger picture.”

Shoes Have Names

If you’re in London, make sure to head over to Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross from 30 September and 7 October 2020, 10am – 5pm.

You can also check out the exhibition online at