how to survive a fashion degree: 12 students share 40 tips
For anyone anxiously preparing for their first class or daydreaming about a creative career change, these insights and pearls of wisdom from London design students could make all the difference in ensuring that your degree counts.
Beth Hall graduate collection via Instagram
Stan Green, Womenswear, Central Saint Martins
1) Don't break the rules until you know them.
2) Keep your patterns close and your pattern master closer (someone WILL steal it).
3) GIVE A SHIT.
4) Your course mates aren't your competition. They're your friends (it's not a gameshow!)
5) If your dad doesn't like what you've made it's probably a good sign.
6) If you think you've done enough, you're wrong.
Beth Hall, Fashion Design, Westminster
1) The press show isn't everything.
2) Interning is everything.
3) Expect that it will take over your life.
Lily May Ward Collins, Fashion Design, Kingston
1) Don't completely put your social life on hold. Invest in wine and try to still go out otherwise you will go insane! (Just learn how to still get into the studio on a hangover.)
2) Make friends with the guys at Crescent Trading in Shoreditch, who sell top quality fabrics at discounted prices. They're lovely Eastenders who are particularly kind to students and if you become a really loyal customer I hear they might even sponsor your graduate collection!
3) Get internships in your summer break. It's a tough way to spend your only real break, but what I learned about the industry was invaluable. Unfortunately they tend to be unpaid so maybe offer to do three or four days a week so you can work on the side. I ended up with only one day off a week, while still being unable to afford to eat!
Elizabeth Kain, Fashion Design and Development, London College of Fashion
1) "There is a passenger for every train," is a Bulgarian figure of speech which means that whoever you are and whatever you do, there will be someone out there who will appreciate it.
2) Experiment as much as you can! You are in fashion school to explore and find your style and identity without thinking about the profitability for a brand.
3) Ask for the opinion of tutors and people around you. It does not necessarily mean that you should follow it, but it helps to understand why people think what they do when they look at your work.
4) Find a productive and creative spot to work in.
Chanette Laing, Fashion Design, UCA Epsom
1) Broaden your horizons! Go to museums and galleries to gain insight on the changing world of art and fashion.
2) Read, read, read! Read as many books as possible to gain a better understanding of the design process.
3) Save all those pennies, they'll come in handy for inspirational trips and materials.
Lily Bowker, Sportswear, London College of Fashion
1) Pull the necessary all nighters and don't cut corners. Despite the hardship, you will feel a million times better when you get ALL of your beautiful work handed in.
2) Keep your ideas flowing by adding new strands and connections, however 'random' they may seem.
3) Engage in discussions with like-minded creative people.
4) Read books, listen to music, watch films, travel, speak to people. Creativity can run short sometimes, so it's important to learn to find inspiration in everything and anything (I once did a project entirely based on a cocktail sausage!)
Adnan Jalhal, Knitwear, Central Saint Martins (Graduated 2016)
1) We live in a time of oversharing; being private and discreet is ok.
2) Build a relationship with your work, really love what you do, and enjoy doing it. It won't seem like work and you'll get something really personal and valid out of it.
3) React to situations in your life through your work — translate this creatively.
4) Pour your emotions into your work and churn out your story.
5) Don't be too precious with your work; it's ok to fuck things up. It might be a mistake, but it might also be the best thing!
Liam O'Sullivan, Fashion Design, Westminster (Graduated 2016)
1) Don't let the course be your entire life. It's hard work but don't forget to get drunk, go out, and have fun. You're only young once and will regret it if you spend all your uni life worrying about a hem rather than collecting strange memories from night buses at ungodly hours in the morning.
2) Learn to take criticism, and learn which criticism to take notice of.
3) Make friends with the technicians and buy them coffee every once in awhile. This will pay off when in your final year when you're having a meltdown and can't sew for the life of it. (Special mention to Pat and Marilyn, the ultimate saviors in times of sewing disaster).
Lorna Harrington, MA Fashion, Kingston
1) Have other interests outside of fashion. These can be helpful to inform your work as well as make you different from other fashion students when applying for jobs.
2) Get out of the classroom and dorm in order to make the most of your local area. Gain insight into what is going on culturally first hand.
3) Collaborate with other students who aren't from your course or university. This will help with networking, and makes for good practice in communicating and justifying your ideas to different people.
Humera, Womenswear, Central Saint Martins
1) Be FREE! Mentally, physically, and in all ways possible!
2) Learn to connect and disconnect with your work.
3) Make your design vision so clear that all your fears of it become irrelevant.
Liza Keene, Womenswear, Central Saint Martins
1) Learn how to function on little sleep.
2) Manage your time. Schedule everything. I mean everything.
3) Push taste levels. Think of the worst thing that makes sense right now, and tadaa: you've created a new look!
Text Chekii Harling