Are We Producing Too Many Fashion Designers?

Professor Frances Corner, head of the London College of Fashion asked in Op-Ed, Business of Fashion (12th Feb) if we were producing too many fashion designers. Certainly I think we are training too many but study at degree level will whittle out the wannabees who lack direction and the world beyond will mop up the majority of what’s left.

Post graduation many will call it quits in search of paid employment and others will discover side lines far more to their taste. For them, the training is never wasted. Because it’s only by getting out into the world that you discover new interests and latent talents.

Even the most genius BA design student can fall by the wayside and those who lack promise by academic standards can flourish into the most productive enterpreneurs once free of the structured world of study. Education, as we know, isn’t always a good judge of its students.

And even though places are capped at most academic institutions, there are numerous copies of said courses all around the country. An institution’s motive is money and league tables. So whilst students need to be capable and possess some skill (that’s for the league tables) there’s a lot of money riding on filling those places.

As the articles alludes: ‘…a fashion degree, with one foot in industry and one in education, does not and should not concentrate on training students for the industry to the detriment of developing their creative and entrepreneurial skills….’

Many courses available do touch on similar industry paths and, though design based, a number do seek to enlighten students on other possible directions. But such exploration does not make for 1:1 results. It makes for what comes after. And that is out of the university’s hands and is something that you cannot teach. It has to be the instinct of the new graduate – skills hopefully, though not always, discovered during study though not necessarily as a direct result of it.

There are certainly more graduates qualified for jobs they will never get, purely because of ratio. Many of those skills are transferable provided you can find those jobs. But with so many graduates out there, some may never get to realise their potential and some talented individuals will be wasted on the 9-5, or worse still, the dole queue.

Training for manufacture at The London College of Fashion (source)

Training for manufacture at The London College of Fashion (source)

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