Fashion Courses

Do you Need a Formal Degree in Fashion to be Successful in the Business of Fashion?

Education is a lifelong habit, it would be juvenile to assume that the only way to get an education is in a formal setting of a classroom. But what about a classroom at Central Saint Martins or Parsons? Well, I still stand by my point. Education should not end once you have a degree in Fashion, on the contrary, your career in fashion doesn’t need to begin with a degree either. Year after year students queue up to get admitted to glorified institutions, missing the fact that ambition plus academia doesn’t always equal success. Surely not in the overcrowded field of fashion, where there is no shortage of skill, talent or ambition.

Missing pieces of the skill set puzzle
 Many of the students graduating even from the most renowned institutions are discontent. Design degrees do not include extremely important aspects of business management like sales, marketing, market knowledge, production, pricing, budgeting, technical skills like pattern cutting etc. As the fashion industry is becoming ever more multi-faceted, this leaves a huge knowledge gap for students to be able to cope with in the real world. But thankfully some fashion insiders are taking notice, Fabio Piras, the course director of Central St Martin’s MA Fashion Course, is one of them. He is trying to achieve an equilibrium by designing courses that preserve the originality of thought required for fashion designing yet not making young designers into money focused entities.

Factoring the social media effect
The GenY absorbs more fashion related content thanks to Instagram and Snapchat than any of their precursors. They can google or Youtube their way through any crisis, coming in their way of learning any subject. They are not afraid of passions that overlap each other. Given the transparency and the sheer volume of information available freely on the internet, a fashion design course has to be able to encompass all the aspects of creativity and skills, that can satisfy the multitasking and multi passioned ways of GenY.

Ignoring the stereotypes of education
A fashion designing degree is not a prerequisite to enter the world of fashion. There are many examples of designers, who mastered subjects like art history or architecture. A multifarious background is always an added advantage, it adds to the student’s design sensibilities. A perfect example of this is creative director at Off-White, Virgil Abloh, who studied to become an engineer, then a masters degree in architecture.

  • Abloh strongly recommends not stereotyping the roles and educational qualifications of a designer. “Multitasking and participating in culture instead of observing are very important to me in my work. It’s my continuing education. I feel that education has a misunderstanding in the modern context. I think it has a heightened importance now more than ever. Not in a particular area of study, but in the sense that it’s knowledge instead of perceived understanding,”
  • London-based designer Nasir Mazhar, is another example of a designer with no formal education to be one. His journey began as a hairdresser, going on to becoming a theatrical designer. “The thing is, they don’t teach you how to build a brand at fashion school. They teach you how to put a collection together, and the basics of pattern cutting and garment construction, which is good if you want to be a designer. But there is a difference between being a designer and running your own brand. More than half of running a brand is about sales, budgeting, production, pricing, cash-flow and marketing,”

In conclusion, a formal education that GenY requires is not the bureaucratic styled one that satisfied their precursors. It should be able to incorporate the breadth of topics required to not just design a runway collection but to make a brand out of it.

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