MILAN, Italy — For over fifty years, Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses in design, fashion, visual art and management, and conducted research in these fields. The school operates campuses across eleven cities in Italy, Spain and Brazil, and on average, almost a third of IED’s students are international. In Milan, students can choose whether they attend lessons taught in English or Italian — other international campuses also offer courses taught in Spanish and Portuguese.
According to BoF’s annual independent survey last year, 88 percent of students at IED will complete internships during their studies and over 85 percent of survey participants reported finding a job within six months of graduating. With a strong emphasis on fashion as a global community, IED maintains the relationship between student and institution long after graduation. “We had the opportunity to stay in contact with very professional teachers who work in the fashion industry, and we maintain strong relationships with them after graduation,” one survey respondent said.
BoF sits down with Sara Azzone, IED Milan Fashion School Director, to discuss industry partnership programmes with some of the most prestigious names in fashion business, including LVMH, Kering, Bulgari and Valentino, and why the school believes in a hands-on approach to education.
How would you define the ethos of the Istituto Europeo di Design?
IED is a global network and very much future-oriented. We believe in the intersection of technology, experimentation, creativity and communication — with a combination of these skills, our students can address market issues through a new form of professionalism.
Rather than just keeping in step with today’s practices in the industry, IED’s faculty of experts and professionals means our courses anticipate trends. We do this through teaching new digital academic subjects like influencer marketing and performance marketing. On the flip side, we balance this with an artisanal approach to training students on the fashion design course, who are encouraged to work with their hands, whether for pattern-making or fabric sampling.
One of our main educational objectives is to train our students to ethically contribute to the creation, communication or promotion of a brand. We work hard to preserve the individuality of our future designers. Our teaching methods also require all our schools to forge strong connections with businesses and institutions in their regions or countries.
How do industry connections with businesses aid your students?
Every year, we do projects with companies and brands to prepare our students for any difficulties they might face in their future careers. Over the years, more than 200 firms have contributed in various ways to our student training programmes. These projects are with some of the most renowned players of the industry, especially with the “Made in Italy” field for our Italian campuses. Our project partnerships include the luxury conglomerates Kering and LVMH, publishing houses like Condé Nast, fashion brands such as Valentino, Max Mara, Calvin Klein, Adidas and Swarovski, as well as jewellery brands. We recently made a fashion film with Bulgari and it was really amazing.
We believe in a “hands-on” methodology when it comes to training our students, so every course is run in direct contact with, and supported by, companies operating in the fields in question. Learning by doing allows for a deeper understanding of the ongoing developments in fashion — it can translate to the real world. At the end of their educational path, our graduates will already have experience and expertise in how fashion brands really function, allowing them to begin their first job with confidence.
What additional methods do you use to develop students’ future careers?
Every year, IED organises career days during which the brands and businesses aligned with our various study programmes meet our students, introduce their companies, their heritage and their current strategies, while providing information on their recruiting processes and methodologies.
We also have an alumni platform that gives students, past and present, the opportunity to connect globally. It’s a very rich network of professionals, which keeps a steady stream of ideas and collaboration flowing. The platform also includes a careers service, so our alumni can stay in touch but also post job opportunities, for both new students and graduates. On the alumni platform, former students also share their experiences at IED and the jobs they have held since then, to guide and inspire the students that are still only starting out in the industry.
What kind of individuals thrive at the Istituto Europeo di Design?
Our students are open-minded, well-read, curious and passionate. They need to follow their instincts but not be afraid of making mistakes. They love the arts as well as technology and current affairs. They must be brave, hard-working, ready to get their hands dirty and, most of all, willing to step out of their comfort zone.