LONDON, United Kingdom — In February, students from London's University of Westminster will be the first from an undergraduate fashion course to show on schedule at a major fashion week.
Students from undergraduate fashion courses, who historically show their graduate collections in June each year, often find themselves designing collections that are out of sync with the international fashion calendar; too early for Spring/Summer but too late for Autumn/Winter, their collections often fall somewhere in-between.
For Andrew Groves, course director for BA fashion design at Westminster, this meant a radical rethink of how fashion education is delivered. The course has since been restructured so that for the final two years of study, Westminster students are working in synchronicity with the international fashion calendar, he told BoF, “to enable us to provide our students with the most realistic and industry-ready educational experience.”
As part of the course, after the second year, “students work for two seasons with leading international fashion houses and designers,” such as Maison Margiela, Haider Ackermann, Burberry, Lanvin, Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Craig Green, Balmain, Givenchy, Loewe and Versus, explained Groves.
The aim of the course is to fully prepare graduates by allowing them to experience first-hand two complete cycles of the fashion calendar, so that they are "confident knowing where they fit into the industry [whether they are] working for global companies like Louis Vuitton or McQueen [or] setting up the own companies or working for a more niche company," he said. "Both are equally valued outcomes."
After their runway debut in February, graduates will begin to work on their pre-collections for Spring/Summer 2019. “For those who want to set up their own businesses, this will mean working with factories, supported by the course, to allow them to make the transition from graduate to designer as easy as possible,” said Groves. He added that for the fashion industry to move forward and develop future strategies, they need “to be actively engaged in education. This is where the solutions to these issues with develop and evolve.”
Westminster alumni include Roberta Einer, Claire Barrow, Katie Ann McGuigan, Liam Hodges and Ashley Williams, who all show at London Fashion Week, as well as Christopher Bailey, outgoing president and chief creative officer of Burberry, Vivienne Westwood and Stuart Vevers, creative director of Coach.
London-based institutions Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Arts are among the few schools in the world that show their MA graduate collections on schedule during a major fashion week.