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What’s new in Fashion Education?

New in fashion education

People who follow The Fashion Crowd (TFC) on Twitter will know that – among other topics – there’s a strong focus on Fashion Education. This is perhaps no surprise, as TFC rotates around education, young designers, who they are, and mentoring on how to make it in the industry. So what’s new in Fashion Education? What’s going on, and what do people talk about?

The powerful fashion portal The Business of Fashion (BoF) lately published a survey about Fashion Design students in the UK. Whereas they were over-all happy with the education itself and the tutors, many felt that Career Service was letting them down, and that they didn’t have enough training in business to enter the professional world and make it there. The post was the introduction to launching some free courses in business, marketing etc. by BoF, which are structured in a comprehensive way and come in the form of concise and comprehensive articles.

Because the thing is that online education is a boiling hot topic that many people have started looking into either in the form as free offers or by payment. They’re offered by existing schools (London College of Fashion, Parsons), entirely online schools (Milan Fashion Campus, University of Fashion), online platforms offering a variety of courses and among them Fashion, (Udemy, Coursera) or simply other businesses seeing an opportunity in giving online Fashion Education a shot. While one needs to be cautious about the quality, at least it’s the beginning of a more varied offer in terms of learning. In this context also TFC could be mentioned with its vision of offering an independent platform with news form the world of education, where people can connect and learn in structured, as well as unstructured, ways.

New offers and schools are popping up everywhere, and the recent article from Not Just a Label offered a view into the educational offers in the Middle East. A lot of things are going on there, and it will be hugely exiting to follow the development over the years, and see how these upcoming fashion centres are establishing themselves. It’s only a matter of time before a similar trend will hit Africa, as most of Asia has already established themselves with education, fashion weeks and a fashion design culture, which is just going to become ever more powerful over the years to come.

A part from structured courses, the Internet provides information about almost anything, and the formats keep getting better, more entertaining, and more aesthetically pleasant. This ‘digging out’ knowledge or learning what you accidentally stumble upon, is what you call ‘unstructured learning’, and it’s the perfect counterpart to structured learning, and what you learn in school. At TFC we have recently enjoyed The Future of Fashion part I with Alexa Chung, who interviews people in the industry and touches upon how public education or grants for studying will prevent fashion from becoming a class thing and nurture talent, how mentoring from knowledgeable people will offer valuable guidance, the many professional roles there are in fashion and much, much more. It’s honest and transparent, and just a pleasure to watch.

Through conversation with some of the young designers and newly graduates in our network, we have heard comments on how schools are focusing on being overly creative and preparing catwalk collection with no sense of also being commercial (and therefore sellable). While this is not entirely wrong, as a student you still have the power of deciding, what work you want to do. It does takes us back, though, to the initiative launched by BOF, and also cross-disciplinary courses with a focus on business, product design etc., which is another emerging trend among fashion schools.

A newly BA graduate mentioned, how the investment wasn’t worth it, and how you could potentially put together your own plan of study learning from the net, getting an internship, and learning by doing. While this is also not entirely wrong, it’s a million times easier after having done a BA, than before having any experience at all.

At TFC, we believe that education is always worth the while – if you chose a good school, that is, and is smart enough to combine it with seeking out your own information, as well as getting industry experience through internships. This is not always, or even very often cheap, and this is exactly the beauty of all the novel offers of what’s new in fashion education: prices are a lot less to fit individual needs. The question remaining is how many new designers the world actually needs?

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