why you should consider studying fashion and design outside london
London, giddy London! It may be home of the brash, outrageous and free but it is certainly not the world. Look beyond the M25 and a whole host of completely mega opportunities are available to those studying creatively in Manchester, Nottingham...
Photography Meinke Klein
Cottweiler, design duo, University of West England
"Studying outside of London gave us the freedom to create what we wanted and learn at our own pace. There wasn't the pressure of the school's reputation to be the next big thing. It doesn't matter what school you studied in or where you grew up as long as you work hard and be honest in what you do you will get to where you want to be."
Michael Mayren, photographer, Salford University
"I've always naturally taken in a lot more influence from things that are directly in front of me rather than sitting down to do research and mood-boards. I studied fashion photography at Salford University and I would go around the precinct with my camera for trend predictions rather than looking at designers and stuff. There's a real nice quality to northern lads, they don't have a clue how cool they are. You don't get that as much in London. For me, it's a really endearing thing and much more interesting to photograph."
Alastair McKimm, Fashion Director, i-D, Nottingham Art School
"Moving to London from Belfast wasn't an option for me financially, so I was looking at schools in Scotland, the north of England and the midlands. I loved Nottingham when I went there to interview, and had a great experience there, both the city and the BA fashion design course where very free and inspiring. There are good clubs and skate parks in Nottingham too which was quite high on my list at the time. It was a good stepping stone for me to then move to London and finally New York."
Jonathan Saunders, fashion designer, Glasgow School of Art
"It was significant that I studied at Glasgow school of art before doing a masters at St Martins. The great thing about GSA as an institution was they believed in blurring the lines between design and fine art by having us all together for certain projects, always critiquing work from a philosophical point of view. The building itself is incredibly inspiring, designed by Rennie Mackintosh. They allowed me to change from product design to textiles in the middle of my degree because they knew it was what I believed in.They also were very process driven. I went to St Martins having a strong technical understanding of how to produce printed fabric and also how to construct garments. It was something that Louise Wilson noticed and it helped me get through the MA. One of the most important things though is that, because of Scottish government, my fees were paid and I received a grant because of my financial situation. I worked part time throughout my degree but I still could never have afforded to go to uni without this support. I noticed that many of my classmates were in this position. This doesn't happen in London so we are starting to see a very middle class pool of students who are privileged. There is nothing wrong with that, but it's not good for fashion to have everyone from one background. It doesn't push ideas. I think universities outside London now may have a better balance of this because the cost of living is lower."
Louis Trainor-Selwyn, recent design graduate, Manchester School of Art
"Manchester is such a brilliant, creative city with a distinctly unique identity and history that, like London, has amazing people that dress in imaginative and creative ways. It's obviously a way more affordable city to be a student in than somewhere like London, and so it draws a lot of artistic people together, firstly as students, and then from that point a lot of them stick around. London is amazing, and I would be lying if i said it doesn't afford more opportunities of networking and new platforms, but if you want to be successful, your own creativity and hard work are the biggest asset you will ever have. You don't need to pay a London price for that."
Fran Stringer, Women's Design Director, Pringle, Nottingham Trent University
"London is bursting at its seams with fashion, so I think one of the advantages of studying outside the capital is that you get to really hone your own individual aesthetic without being too heavily influenced by what everyone else is doing! Studying fashion is a unique time for creative development and expression, a time rarely repeated once you enter the workforce due to the realities of commercial pressures. I feel that studying outside London gave me the head space I needed to focus on who I was as a designer."
Text Matthew Whitehouse