- Joshua Williams |
Over the past year, fashion design schools have been forced to rethink how they educate students and prepare them for jobs. It’s a monumental task, when so much about Covid-19 is still unknown, making planning for future academic years difficult at best. What’s more, with a shift to online learning and a focus on systemic racism within fashion curriculum, educators are having to shift the very models of education that have been in place for decades, especially when it comes to studio-based and Western-centric learning.
And while institutions grapple with these changes, potential fashion design students wonder how or if these issues may change the application process. According to Susanna Moyer, a part time professor in the BFA Fashion Design program at Parsons School of Design and an educational consultant in New York City, “Some schools and universities will be looking for students that are able to connect with global issues, with inclusivity being one of them.” She emphasizes, “Students who bring innovation and critical thinking to these issues through the creative process will be the most attractive candidates for these institutions.”
And more specifically, fashion schools are increasingly looking for students who show an aptitude and knowledge of emerging technologies. Susanna concurs, “Technology is being used in the school environment and the professional arena. So, it's really important for students to understand 3D technology, including Clo3D.”
While it’s not expected that an incoming student learn a complex software platform like Clo3D, having an awareness of how it works, or how it changes the design process is very helpful. This is especially true when so much of learning is online right now.
At the same time, Susanna points out that the core of what makes a successful portfolio hasn’t really changed. She stresses, “It’s still important for students to present “a clear, focused direction, and diversity in presentation. All elements, including moodboard designs and technical flats need to be well thought out and executed so the storytelling of the collection is understandable to the viewer.” She also recommends that students create a design journal to document the process so that it can be included, as needed, in the portfolio submission.
Susanna also points out that students who understand their potential role as a designer within the bigger picture can also help them to stand out, as long as it is authentic. This includes learning everything possible before getting into school. Ultimately, she challenges incoming students to “be original and believe in something.” After all she says, quoting Oscar Wilde, “be yourself, everyone else has taken.”
Part of the equation for any incoming student is whether fashion design school is right for them, or if there is even any future in fashion. After all, the world is changing precipitously, and the effect on fashion is obvious. However, Susanna believes that with change are opportunities for students. She says, “the broadening markets and the specializations that are emerging with the changing social rules that are being broken every day. Genderless clothing is one example along with sustainable and ethical practices that are becoming stronger trends with the consumer.”
With any change comes opportunity. And an education is meant to prepare students to be ready for new opportunities--to be ready to ideate, innovate and implement. Susanna sums it up, “Choose a school or program that aligns with your values and goals, and gives you a safe space to learn through process and even failure.”