Nina and Jessica share their thoughts on the V + A’s annual Create! Fashion Festival and ask that pivotal question: is a degree relevant for a career in fashion?
On the 19th of October we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum’s annual Fashion Festival in hope to gain information and inspiration regarding the fashion industry (and also secretly hoping to touch Henry Holland’s infamous quiff). The event has been running for several years and aims to engage, enthuse and give insight into the industry for young people who want to get their foot in the door. There was an array of delights at the festival, such as drop-in lectures by ASOS and Henry Holland, fashion photography or illustration workshops, a rolling graduate show and free advice dished out by the likes of CSM lecturer Jane Francis.
The whole event was pretty informal and everything was organised on first come first serve basis which was often frustrating, for example, we waited an hour to see ASOS. However, as a free event, we can’t complain. The atmosphere was a buzz of excitement and anticipation, and we found ourselves surrounded by many young and aspirational fashionistas. When we asked seventeen-year-old Esme Marshall what she was hoping to get out of the experience, she replied that she was there to ‘gain more knowledge and insight into the fashion industry.’ And we doubt she left unsatisfied by the array of lectures presented at the festival. From PR and journalism, to design and illustration, the lectures explored the skills required for the industry and offered an insight into the specific career paths.
And throughout the lectures the same saucy word did keep springing up – internships. This provoked the discussion about the relevance of a degree within the fashion industry when you can easily apply for internships and apprenticeships within companies for free. Luckily, we managed pick the brains of ASOS content editor Catherine Nieto about this whole university malarkey; (FYI she has a degree in economics!). Her answer the to our question was, ‘50% yes and 50% no. University gives you the context and discipline – a level of understanding. I guess it all depends on the person’. She explained how it is ‘more than do-able to enter the industry without a degree, but also highlighted that a ‘degree gives you the chance to broaden your mind and self’.
This kind of interaction at the festival was something that really made the trip worthwhile. We feel that the most inspiring words came from graduate and workshop helper Lucy, who bagged herself a job at Vivienne Westwood directly after graduating. Her most important advice was that ‘you just need to work, work, work!’ This statement definitely sums large part of what we learnt from the festival. We learnt that yes, the fashion industry is an exciting and a potentially prosperous career choice, but that in order to get into the game you really need to work hard at making yourself stand out from the crowd. We realise that this all may sound a bit daunting, but in words of Gemma Ebelis, head of PR for the British Fashion Council, who also attended the festival; ‘If you love fashion enough it doesn’t matter what path you take because you have that passion and drive to succeed.’