Fashion school is a different place than it was five or ten years ago, some say for the better and some say for worse, but how exactly have these changes manifested themselves?
When I asked my good friend, a fashion design student at London College of Fashion, she said something that I thought was very profound: “Fashion school is fashionable at the moment.” This statement was provocative, but I must say that I agree.
More people than ever are applying for the chance to attend fashion school, with a multitude of fashion-related courses being created in order to give students the chance to study in a concentrated environment. Business courses, media courses, communication courses; if there’s a subject that can have the word fashion put in front of it and make sense, fashion schools will most likely offer that course. Giving so many people the chance to study and possibly break into the industry is such an incredible opportunity, but is it also sucking the life out of fashion school?
In the last few years, there has been a big focus on creating employable alumni and establishing a legacy, through them, for the school and its name; as a result course leaders are not pushing students to take creative risks in the event that they may fail. In order to get students hired after graduation, courses like fashion design have become a lot more commercialized; it’s more about technique than vision. Some may argue that the creative growth of students is being stunted.
My aforementioned friend is an incredibly visionary designer; she never fails to impress me with her ideas and concepts and I just know that one day, she will be huge - her creative mind is so vast. However, she spends most of her time at the moment writing pages and pages for her course about how she made something, rather than why she made it. Is the artistic, emotional value of design being lost amid an emphatically technical routine?
However, there is more to the industry than design and creative jobs, so the offering of business-oriented and theoretical courses is a fantastic development. I have the privilege of attending the business school at London College of Fashion and it’s a great pathway to take. In this case, the hunger for creating "successful" students obviously has a lot of benefits, like industry placement programmes, graduate schemes, and connections galore. I’m currently in the process of applying for a work placement year, an opportunity I probably would not otherwise have without fashion school.
And let’s face it - to a certain extent, I'm being pernickety about the dissolution of creativity merely because I’m a fashion school student and witness different approaches to the industry on a daily basis. And at the end of the day, the changes occurring at fashion school are all happening to increase the employability of graduates, which in the grand scheme of things will allow whoever the next great visionaries may be to gain all of the experience they need to enrich their ultimate creative ability.