Wednesday, March 30, 2011

fashionable educated to annoy

a dear friend of mine, Nicole Furter Haze ( brought this to my 'lovely piece of writing' attention . . . and I want to air my opinion too, as it is one of my favourite pastime :) this article is taken off the iFashion site
it's a lot of reading, but it's worth having an opinion on it . . .

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f a s h i o n a b l y   e d u c a t e d?
Written by Sandiso Ngubane   
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
cleo_droomer.jpgSouth African fashion schools: how to choose and when the choice is made, how do you know they'll educate to expectation. Sandiso Ngubane investigates. When Cleo Droomer presented his winning collection at SA Fashion Week’s ELLE New Designer Competition in October 2010, tongues were set wagging at the young designer’s craftsmanship. His collection- dominated by digital prints on spandex, body hugging silhouettes and the memorable blue PVC jacket with an exaggerated shape- was a display of craft and creativity that was unparalleled by his fellow competitors. Droomer, who studied at the Cape College of Fashion Design, has previously said he didn’t know what to do after matric, but fell in love once he began his fashion studies. One guesses that his college education must have steered him in a good design direction.

A few weeks ago when I attended a fashion seminar organized by African Fashion International, one of the students present stood up and shared his experiences between two fashion education institutions. The college he had gone to in his first year of tertiary- North West University of Technology- had been good in terms of teaching them how to construct a garment. Not wishing to be a seamstress, however, the student in question- I didn’t get his name- decided to give LISOF in Rosebank a try, in the hope that there he would find an all-encompassing curriculum that offers both the practicality of design and theory geared towards fashion as a business. When he arrived there, he said, he was greeted with praise from his fellow students who could not believe his skills in making garments. They, he added, knew all about sketches and very little about bringing those sketches to life in a quality finished product.

LISOF has, over the years, produced some of the most successful fashion industry practitioners. From designers to fashion editors, these include Tiaan Nagel, former ifashion editor Angie Hattingh, ELLE Fashion Editor Kirstey Stoltz and Suzaan Heyns amongst others.  “We are committed to ensuring quality at LISOF and that will filter through everything we do,” says Shana Rosenthal, the college’s Chief Executive Officer. “From engineering innovative ways in which students learn and lecturers teach, to the actual combinations of complex courses that are unique to the LISOF curricula.”

LISOF has had some of the best industry practitioners for lecturers, too. These include former ELLE Magazine editor and Times Newspaper fashion columnist Jacquie Myburgh, who lectured fashion media. At the Durban University of Technology’s Fashion and Textile’s Department, Sandile Dladla who graduated last year, says this is a privilege they do not have. Durban designer Terence Bray lectures there but Dladla said he did not recall a lecture- guest or otherwise- by any of the college’s former graduates who include Dion Chang, designers Amanda Laird-Cherry, Colleen Eitzen and Craig Native, amongst others.
“We give students a very wide, but basic knowledge of fashion,” department head George Forster says, “We provide them with practical as well as business skills.”

Dladla confirmed this, but said he would have preferred the experiential learning program- which was three weeks- to be longer. “Students are expected to find their own place to do this experiential learning, but the school does advise you around it,” he says, “I, for instance, was told I couldn’t go to a firm I had arranged myself and was sent to Holmes Brothers by the school.”
Dladla has since established himself as a designer in Durban with a label called “Gregory Code”, currently retailing at a store he runs with a partner.
At LISOF, the gap between college and workplace is also bridged by an experiential learning program. The college has also established an in-house recruitment division which seeks to help graduates in finding work. The division, which started operating in 2010, has since placed over 60 graduates, as Shana Rosenthal explains. “The industry has become so vast and varied that there are so many more opportunities,” she adds.

Rosenthal’s college is often billed as the country’s premiere fashion college. While many see it this way, students at the college and others who have left (as graduates or drop-outs) complain at the scarcity of resources. “There’s always an excuse and an answer to everything,” said one who is currently at the college, “Why do we have so few computers to share amongst many students? They’ll tell us to wait for renovations. When that happened the number of computers still remained the same.”
Bursary students, who have since left the college, said they were made to feel “different” from other students. “Winning a bursary to study means that you have worked hard and presented yourself in such a way that a certain company was willing to support you in financing your studies,” a former bursary recipient says, “LISOF was different. Getting a bursary meant ‘if it weren’t for us, you wouldn’t be here, therefore you had to work harder to show gratitude.”

“I had to stay behind after classes to cut out patterns that the school needed. If they needed someone to work at the library, they’d get a bursary student. This is on top of all the school work you still had to get done.”

The former student, who wished to remain anonymous, added that this was not a written rule, but one could not refuse or avoid being treated this way as there was a constant reminder of “how ungrateful you are”.

Malcolm Kluk of Kluk CDGT went to the acclaimed Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design in London. Some of the global fashion industry’s most celebrated figures- from Hamish Bowles, Gareth Pugh, Zac Posen to John Galliano- graduated there. “At the beginning of each week we would get a brief and have a meeting with our tutor. The rest of the time was spent working or interning at wherever we could get a job,” Malcolm says, “I was lucky enough to get a placement at John Galliano and spent most of my time there as a general assistant. I made patterns, worked in the press office, drove the truck; anything I was needed for.”

“The fact that I was at St Martin’s helped get that position as there is a network of people who all started there.”
Malcolm says he believes it is important for young designers to get a grounding education in design. Thereafter, he advises that an apprenticeship is worth more than a Masters degree. “To work in another designer’s studio and gain knowledge is everything,” he adds, “The fashion industry is incredibly competitive. So many graduates want to work in fashion as they think it is easy, fun and glamorous. It is none of these and the further you get in the industry the less easy it becomes. But it can be rewarding!”

Students in South African colleges interviewed for this feature mostly expressed disappointment at their placements for experiential learning. “At my school they don’t give you a chance to choose for yourself. They do it for you,” one of them said, “I was very disappointed with my placement. I wanted to go to designers I thought would benefit me in terms of my design style.”
This student was instead placed with a designer who made him, and other interns, tidy up the studio and to help the seamstresses with small tasks like unpicking. “I learnt nothing,” he says.

Jessica Sutherland who graduated from LISOF says she was also initially disappointed with where the college placed her, but was later pleased as she learnt a lot from the team at Flux Trends. “I wanted to go somewhere that I would learn the practical application of fashion design, but I learnt so much in the two weeks that I was with Dion Chang. He and the team are a wealth of information and I soaked up as much as I could. It continues to play a part in the way I do things.”

Jessica also expressed disappointment at the shortness of the experiential learning program.

“You learn a lot from your lecturers,” she adds, “but you do need to take initiative and also learn from people who are already doing it.”

*A questionnaire sent to Cape Town College of Fashion was not responded to, as promised, by the time of publishing

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this article sparked a few thoughts in my head, not necessarily linked to the article.

Now, I know I'm spoilt in going to fedisa, but doesn't all of this seem like a lot of extra work just to get a job?
I'm not boasting, but I feel so safe in my university that I know I am learning all the right stuff . . . that nonsense of "Not wishing to be a seamstresss" is utter crap. How can you be a designer if you cannot sew yourself?
and if you are wanting to learn the "business side of fashion" do a damn BCom and shut up. Do your learning at a non-practical university and the go into industry because it's people like them, who don't "wish to be a seamstresss" who fill the positions in the crowded class rooms all over the country. when people like me crave knowledge of the techniques behind the world of fashion.

Soooo . . .  stop bitching and get your BCom bums out of my damn BA chairs.

We are encouraged throughout our degrees to find work in the industry, with a compulsory month period in final third year for internship in industry. Why are these people relying on their colleges to place them in a job? doesn't seem very adult, does it?

when a college gives you a bursary to learn there - often for your full course and supplies . . . don't you do as much as you can for the college? I know that even when I pay for my own studies (as in not a bursary) If my lecturer asked me to cut a pattern, I would do it? Not sure what that is about. Seems obvious.

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