Is Fashion School a Worthy Investment?

The global fashion is currently valued at 3 trillion dollars, making up 2% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Traditionally favoured by those with sartorial flair, fashion is now being scene as a potential moneymaker, with high-end companies such as Chanel boasting brand values in the region of $8 billion. Because it is so intricately tied in with glamour and celebrity, fashion is fast becoming an interesting career choice for creatives. According to The World University Rankings, the UK is currently the world’s top destination for fashion students, with British institutions accounting for five of the 10 best BA and MA programmes in the Business of Fashion’s (BoF’s) world list of top fashion courses.

 

Fashion Education is Booming

Students today have many more options when it comes to a degree in fashion than they did just a decade ago. In the UK, for instance, the London College of Fashion recently launched a new Fashion Business School, where students learn about much more than designing garments, “Projects can range from future forecasting to creating a limited edition range of footwear and accessories or even looking for the response to a burning issue in sustainability. And our students of media and communications know all about promoting the outcomes of these projects,” claims the school. Today, there are many options for those who study fashion; rather than focusing merely on product design, they can use skills obtained to work in a plethora of roles, including marketing, social media, sales, and production management.

 

What ROI can an Education in Fashion Provide?

Central Saint Martins and The Royal College of Art have officially been deemed the top two schools in the BoF Global Fashion School of Rankings. Interestingly, the BoF notes that among the over 4,000 students who participated in their survey, most were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with aspects such as the teaching, study materials, and campuses. However, they were less satisfied with the support offered to find employment. Many students have to raise finances for their schooling through bank loans or loans from family, and wish there was more help from their educational institutions once their degree was over.

 

What is the Solution?

The BoF suggests that top fashion institutions should place greater emphasis on career options, increasing student awareness on possible options through career fairs and similar events. They also note that there is an oversupply of graduates from the fashion sector, with only one in seven UK students finding employment as designers in 2014. However, they noted another interesting statistic: around 85% of fashion school graduates did find jobs in the industry, though not necessarily as designers.

 

Success Stories

There is no doubt that studying at a prestigious institution can open doors. Thus, studying at the UK’s top school or other European stalwarts such as the Istituto Europeo di Design in Italy or the Institut Français de la Mode in France can mean a chance to work as an intern at high-end firms such as Marni, Louis Vuitton, or Reem Acra. Students should be prepared to work in departments they aren’t necessarily interested in. At top fashion companies based in London, Milan, or Paris, movement is possible and students can find that time spent in sales or administration is a small investment for a career in fashion.

 

Advice from Experts

In a recent article in The Guardian, editor-at-large of Refinery UK noted that practical experience and building contacts were key to making it in the fashion world. In the same article, a host of experts recommended attending fairs, considering a placement year, starting local, and looking for alternative routes; everything from garment tech to pattern cutting. Creativity is also key; students should look for ways to start one’s own business rather than form part of the vast group of job applicants who send their CVs to a handful of established firms. Building a name for oneself through a beautiful, well-thought-out Instagram account is also important. Social media has made many a star in areas as vastly different as music, art, and literature. 

Fashion school continues to boast a good employment rate, though changes need to be made both in the way students are guided towards a career in their final years, and in students’ expectations. Students should realise that the aim is to make it into a firm that offers them the opportunity to work in a variety of departments. That is, they may begin in sales or marketing, and eventually work their way to product. Many students actually find abilities they did not previously know they had in areas such as communication and media. There are many roads to success, so keeping an open mind in this time of high supply is key.

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