On education in Europe and the USA

Clever Magazine
Art&Fashion Universities Student life Angelina Nikonova

Fashion Education - Uncharted Path: Interesting Facts and Tips for Your Future

The article provides a comprehensive exploration of the dynamic realm of fashion education, sharing valuable insights and advice for those embarking on a journey in this ever-evolving field. It traces the historical development of fashion education, spotlighting key institutions that have shaped its trajectory. The narrative expands beyond traditional notions, emphasizing the diverse roles sought after by the fashion industry, including writers, PR managers, and brand strategists.

Practical tips are woven throughout the article, covering aspects such as staying abreast of industry trends, navigating the fast-paced landscape of online media, and understanding the competitive job market. The article dispels the notion of instant luxury associated with the fashion industry, especially at the entry level, where financial rewards may be modest.
I will begin my exploration of fashion education with a bit of background. Understanding the rapid pace at which this field is developing is crucial – it is catching up and surpassing many other areas of education.

Fashion education is an evolutionary process, much more complex than many imagine, reflecting changes in the sociocultural and economic context. It has undergone an exciting journey and has become part of the formation of the creative elite.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was no clear understanding of the need for specialized education in this area. However, the emergence of the École de la Haute Couture in Paris and the Istituto Marangoni in Milan created the foundation for the future of fashion education. These educational institutions can be called pioneers whose innovations have begun to shape the face of the fashionable education industry.

The following decades after World War II brought with them a marked increase in the popularity of fashion education. Schools such as Central Saint Martins in London and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York have become epicenters of creative development. However, with the globalization of the fashion market and the emergence of new technologies, fashion education faced many challenges that required adaptation. There is a need to integrate digital competencies, brand management, and analytics into curricula.

Today’s fashion education has become much more accessible thanks to online courses and distance learning programs. Innovative approaches to learning include not only traditional methods but also the use of virtual reality, big data analysis, and other modern technologies. Universities such as London College of Fashion and Parsons School of Design have become leaders in integrating these elements into their programs, successfully equipping students with not only creative skills but also digital literacy.
With constant changes in technology and cultural trends, the future of fashion education promises to be even more dynamic.
The integration of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other innovative technologies will become the standard. Students will learn not only how to create beautiful things but also how to use data to make strategic decisions in the industry. We have many interesting things waiting for us. And, of course, there will only be more and more professions in this industry. But let’s move on to the tips that I did not know 10 years ago.

Fashion education is truly one of the most unexplored areas. If asked, most people, especially the older generation, will first associate fashion education with design and styling. However, fashion magazines and brands are constantly seeking writers, PR managers, producers, press office specialists, brand strategists, event organizers, and many other roles. The fashion industry is a lucrative field with a constant demand for a vast array of specialists.

Today’s fashion education offers students not only design and styling but also specialized programs in the fields of media, retail, and production. The redefinition of careers in the industry — from writers and editors to brand management specialists and analysts — signals a broadening of the horizons of opportunity for graduates.

According to analytics, “revenue in the fashion market is expected to show an annual growth rate of 8.67% by 2028.” Therefore, it is crucial not to underestimate the number of job opportunities in this industry.
The first thing you need to understand before choosing a profession in fashion is that specialties are divided into three main categories: production, media, and retail.
Production includes those who create clothes: patternmakers, seamstresses, and fashion designers. Media includes writers, editors, influencers, and PR managers. Retail encompasses fashion advisors, team managers, retail coordinators, and merchandising specialists. The lists can be expanded endlessly.
Second, and unfortunately, something no one warned me about, in the fashion industry, experience wins over education. Therefore, it is important to start your internship as early as possible.
If you aspire to become an editor, apply for internships at several publications. Write pieces in the style of the publication and send them to the email indicated on the website with a motivation letter. This way, you will have a solid work experience column in your CV and a portfolio, as many magazines require links to publications along with your job application.

The same principle applies to all other professions. If you open LinkedIn, you can find numerous positions with the terms “intern” or “internship.” Work on your CV and cover letter, and starting in high school, apply for internships.

Try not with large publications and brands. Managers of smaller projects will be happy to answer you, and you can gain experience.
Third, but no less important, is to search for the exact profession that you need. The “Journalism & Communications” department is not the same as “Fashion Journalism.”
Studying for a generic profession when you want to gain in-depth knowledge in a specific area would be the mistake I made. Just 10 years ago, fashion education was not as popular or accessible as it is now. Polimoda, established in 1986, Istituto Marangoni, founded even earlier in 1935, and the University of the Arts London, founded in 1986, have been around for a long time and offer high-quality education, but few people talked about them.

The Faculty of Journalism will not teach you how to be a web editor or how to write about fashion, art, beauty, and lifestyle. You will learn how to write news, discuss economics and politics, conduct interviews, and create reports, but they will not instruct you on writing a long read after analyzing the “Prada Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection.” Carefully scrutinize the list of universities, faculties, and subjects studied.
Tip #4: Always stay aware of the agenda. If you enjoy a digital detox, the fashion industry may not be for you.
I associate the fashion industry with a waterfall: new information flows non-stop, and if you do not follow the flow for at least a couple of days, you will drown. You need to get used to the idea that fashion is like politics. To stay abreast of what is happening in the world, you should watch the news report at least once a day. The same goes for fashion.

If you aspire to work in the media (as a writer, editor, PR specialist, or blogger), dedicate at least an hour a day to reading fashion news and another hour to scrolling through TikTok and Instagram to stay updated on current trends. Planning to work in retail? You must know styling, watch all the shows, follow new collections in boutiques, analyze trends, and understand what complements each other. In production? Understand what technologies have been introduced, what fabrics have emerged – all of this is crucial. Create a selection of top media that will keep you informed and set aside two hours a day to “swim in that waterfall.”
The fifth point, seldom discussed but crucial to be aware of, is the demanding nature of the fashion industry. This is perfectly normal; there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The key is to maintain a strict work-life balance, be adept at presenting yourself, and not be disheartened by rejections.
Firstly, competition in this field is exceptionally fierce. Within a matter of hours, numerous responses flood in for job openings. You have a mere 15-30 seconds to capture the attention of HR with your CV and motivation letter, setting yourself apart from the hundreds of applicants. It is unrealistic to expect five invitations from sending out five applications; you may need to send out fifty to receive one response.

Secondly, speed is crucial, particularly in online media. Magazines like Cosmopolitan and Elle publish 20+ articles daily. Depending on the country and the number of editors, you might be required to produce about 5-10 publications each day. This is often within tight deadlines. Even if you have a deep passion for writing, maintaining this pace can quickly become exhausting.

Thirdly, while the fashion industry is often associated with luxury — fashion shows, branded items, glamorous parties — this image is more applicable when you have climbed the ladder and achieved a certain level of success. At the entry level, positions are not always the most lucrative, even in fashion. Be prepared to write extensively for relatively modest compensation.
Lastly, I want to share something that would have significantly eased my journey if, as a true introvert, I had approached work a bit differently at the outset of my career. Networking is a powerful tool, and while many of you may be familiar with this concept, I, personally, did not engage with many people initially. I was focused on my studies and kept to myself. It was only two years ago that I started to actively communicate.
Now, I find myself surrounded by wonderful, talented, and interesting individuals with whom I can collaborate on a multitude of unique projects. In fact, I am even writing this article for Clevermagazine, all thanks to the power of networking.

So, my advice is simple: chat, meet people, attend events, and be open to the world around you. Networking has the potential to open doors and create opportunities you might not have imagined.