Some people just have that natural knack for style. This flair can of course even lead to pursuing a career in fashion. Inscape’s Fashion Design graduate Michelle chats to Robyn about her studies for this feverish industry.
Let’s face it – people like to look good. Always have and always will. According to Scratch Hard, the fashion industry makes $20 billion every single year – that’s about R320 billion! Which means dipping your finger into that pool will never be a bad idea.
People use fashion for many different reasons. It’s a way to show off their personal style. Some styles are for business people, which is easily recognisable (suit, tie, you know the drill). There’s also active wear fashion, or formal clothing for events and other snazzy occasions. Pretty much every situation and occasion calls for a certain dress code and there are usually plenty of options for each one.
Fashion ain’t a New Trend
Fashion has been around for thousands of years, and has had an impact on social class and trends from the get-go. The Ancient Greeks, for example, wore togas, and different colours signified different social classes. In historical Western society, peasants wore brown and grey clothes, bankers and other medium class society wore green while the nobility and upper class frequented colours like purple and red to show off their social standing. Here’s another interesting fun fact: the first fashion ‘magazine’ came out France in the mid-1500s, furthering the fashion craze.
Ever thought about if some fashion gurus become as famous as actors, singers, or other celebrities? Ever heard of the name Christian Dior? Well, this designer single-handedly designed the A-line and pencil skirt in the 1920s – both of these clothing styles are still widely used today.
Fun Fact: The skirt is the second oldest garment in the world, second only to the loincloth.
Hard Work Pays Off
I chat to Michelle Dindi, a fashion graduate from Inscape. She had a passion for creating beautiful garments and decided to join this huge world of fashion and add her own mark to it – perhaps even be the next Coco Chanel or Christian Dior.
When Michelle had first applied for the fashion degree at Inscape, she expected to spend the next few years learning the art of sewing. Thankfully she was pleasantly surprised at the layout and courses offered in her degree. She was taught a wide variety of skills and obtained knowledge that is now invaluable to her.
This is what Michelle has to say about her degree:
“A fashion degree is an intense course of study with a heavy workload, thus meaning extra hours put in. The degree involves a lot more than simply sewing, therefore a lot of time is spent on conceptualisation and the development of a collection before it is put together.
A vast majority of the work is practical with the exception of methodology, writing and business subjects, as it prepares you for the industry. The intricacy of the designs also effects the hours put in and the expense of materials. Fabrics are generally expensive. However, this depends on the garment. I do therefore suggest that you explore your area to find alternatives to traditional mass fabric stores.”
Regarding the workload, Michelle explains,
“Although it is a lot of hard work, like all degrees, if the passion is alive, a fashion degree can be highly rewarding… You will be continually challenged and as a result you will grow personally.”
The Currency of Time
As you may have noticed from Michelle’s feedback, time is definitely of the essence in the fashion world. During your course, you will be faced with deadlines to meet and customers to keep happy. This prepares you for the real world where deadlines become ever present. Inscape may have the luxury of extending your deadline, but they probably won’t, since their aim is to prepare you for life post-studies. So enjoy the challenges.
A problem that may arise when you face a looming deadline, is the arrival of self-doubt. As anxiety and stress kick in, you may start doubting yourself and your capabilities to handle the project or even your degree. This is normal and it can only help you grow. Michelle faced this and she got out stronger for it.
“Inscape continually encouraged me. This was so important, because self-doubt, particularly in fashion, can be debilitating. This field is highly subjective. Inscape showed me my strengths and pushed me to better my weaknesses.”
Make use of the support and people you have around you. The problem with students is they tend to think that they’re just a number in a tertiary institution and that the lecturers and staff can’t be bothered with their problems. This isn’t true – take advantage of institutions like Inscape. Make use of their support and knowledge and allow them to continually guide you on your journey.
Inscape Fashion Design
Inscape Durban is a reasonably small campus. Michelle says that she enjoyed the smaller campus as faces became familiar and friendly. It is situated just on the outside of the Durban CBD, so it would just be a quick ride or walk to get anywhere in town.
Inscape has a variety of different specialisations to its Bachelor of Design degree and other courses you could do, all of them revolving around the world of design. Some of their newer specialisations include; Jewellery Design, Ideation, Marketing and Communication Design, Interaction Design and Audio-Visual Design. Take a look at their site for the full list of what they offer.
The smaller campus means intimate classes. So you’re more likely to develop a relationship with your lecturers and to become friends with your fellow classmates. You definitely won’t just stay a number and vague face there.
Fun Fact: 93% of Inscape graduates secure employment in their chosen career.
And the Craze Goes on…
I’m sure you’re wondering about the availability of jobs after studying a fashion degree. Just like any other field, most jobs require a few years of experience before you can apply for a position somewhere, which is frustrating at the best of times. How can a graduate fresh out of school have any sort of experience?
Michelle suggests doing an internship at a fashion company. You probably won’t be paid and if you do, it won’t be much. But the knowledge and experience you’ll garner while interning will be invaluable and could guarantee a fantastic job. The jobs that are available to graduates are trainee and assistant buyer positions. But this may not be your passion or desired field, hence why Michelle suggests taking on an internship.
Just as every other field in the world, the fashion field is ever-evolving. Michelle says that the fashion world is becoming more e-commerce (online means of doing business) and online shopping will be a lot more prominent in the future, as it’s easier and quicker than searching store after store for the specific garment that you want. The need for people in the fashion industry will never drop, only the methods of trade. So jobs in this industry should never run dry.
There are a variety of different fields into which a fashion degree can take you. The wide scope of job opportunities lends itself to being a very marketable degree. Some of the fields you could branch into with a fashion degree are:
- pattern maker
- cad designer
- trend forecaster
This is a pretty wide range of things to go into and there are bound to be some positions available for you.
As Raymond Taylor from Inscape told me, clothing production is coming back to South African shores. This means that there will be an increase in fashion jobs in South Africa in the next few years.
Michelle’s last words of advice are,
“If someone is passionate about fashion, I would highly recommend studying it. It is creatively stimulating and constantly evolving. But it’s not a career path you should choose lightly, as it’s a serious, fast-paced industry.”
So if you find yourself sitting in high school thinking of a fashion career, seriously consider your goals and dreams for life. Fashion isn’t a light-hearted field where people dilly-dally around. It comes with serious stress and challenges, which can be rewarding. But you don’t want to be halfway through your degree and unable to handle an unexpected curveball life could throw at you.
Michelle recommends taking Art at school to help make the transition to the Fashion degree a bit easier for you. She also suggests getting to know the Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator software before starting your studies. Perhaps play around with it a bit in your school holidays after your Matric exams.
If Fashion Design is your heart’s calling and passion, then take a look at the course Inscape offers. Michelle is extremely happy with her degree and thoroughly enjoyed her time at Inscape. With a specialised field like fashion, lecturers who notice and care for you, help make your life easier. So go for it. Check it out and start working towards your goals.
Take the plunge and follow your fashion design dream – making people look and feel good while fulfilling your dreams is never a bad idea. Especially with the great news of clothing production becoming local.
Ever wondered about what happens behind the scenes before a piece of fashion makes it onto the runway? Take a look at some of the frustrations you may face as a fashion design student: