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How to move into fashion teaching after working in the industry

By Hannah Rafter


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It is not uncommon for an industry professional to go into teaching after spending a number of successful and eventful years in the fashion industry. Many are excited by the idea of giving back and help guide the next generation in the industry.

Fashion, with its many aspects, is an increasingly popular subject to study at creative universities around the world, providing opportunities for interesting teaching. Some professionals have followed a fashion course and therefore have a familiarity and understanding of what the curriculum might look like. For others, bringing their experience of working in the industry adds another dimension to their career.

If you are considering teaching and sharing your industry expertise on a full time basis, teaching could be the perfect next step. Before going full steam ahead you should consider the following:

Where do you want to teach? Going back to your old university is a great option, you are familiar with your surroundings and will also have a personal connection to a certain course.

Where does your expertise lie? Have you been a fashion buyer your whole career? Consider teaching a buying or merchandising course.

Do you want to teach full time? Many lecturers especially in main cities choose to teach part time. This allows them to have one foot in each door and give ‘live’ up to date information on the industry.

Do you have the skill set? Teaching isn’t for everyone, some have a natural flare for it and others don’t. Do you like young people? It isn’t just about imparting knowledge. Can you make your subject come alive? Make sure your personality and skill set is appropriate for teaching.

Are you experienced enough? Have you worked in the industry long enough? Do you feel you are an expert in your field? Students will want to learn from your first hand experience, not only from text books. Make sure you have enough experience behind you to do the job well.

Get advice! Reach out to any friends or connections that are teachers and get their guidance or reach out to your old university lecturers for advice.

Liz Watson, Principal Fashion Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University advises in order to be a great fashion lecturer you must:

1.Do it because you’re passionate about the aspect of the fashion or textile industry you want to teach - students can tell - and love it - if you love it!

2.Don’t just share the great experiences but the not so great ones too - so students can learn that making a mistake can be a positive thing.

3.Update your academic theory to work in parallel with your great industry knowledge - especially on current topical subjects like the digital world and sustainability.

4.Keep your industry contacts current and always think about how you can help them too.

5.Don’t underestimate how valuable your experience is to students - they really do enjoy knowing all about ‘how it really is’.

Whether you decide to go into teaching or not, you can always give back to your industry. Other options include mentoring, speaking at events at universities or being active and supportive to the young talent in the company you work for.

We must all consider sharing what we’ve learnt and our previous experiences. By sharing your knowledge you are enhancing and improving the future of your industry.

By Hannah Rafter, founder of The Intern 247, a website dedicated to giving real insights into the world of fashion internships.

Photo credit: Rawpixels.com, Pexels