Dedicated followers of fashion will know it's not an easy industry to keep pace with. What's in this evening will be out by breakfast, new innovations are appearing all the time and the entire fashion world sloughs off its skin and reinvents itself every season.
This constantly shifting activity means there's never a bad time to get involved in fashion marketing – it's always a relevant qualification, says Gill Stark, head of the School of Fashion and Design at Regent's University. "The industry moves quickly and because of this, fashion marketing is stimulating and exciting to study."
Choosing to get involved now will introduce students to new technologies, she continues. "They are changing the ways that we market and promote fashion. For instance, a fashion consumer can see a product and link through their phone – within seconds – to moving catwalk images of it on a model."
Throw in developing markets such as China and its emerging fashion influence on Europe – as well as the fashion industry's unique bridging position between the cultural, creative, business and technology sectors – and it's easy to see why the industry continues to attract graduates. It's also clear why fashion marketing is a popular choice for students from all over the world.
Thankfully, UK students looking to join this flourishing industry can dress up their skills at universities up and down the country. Courses differ, so there are options to suit every student. In addition to full and part-time study, students can opt for: a three-year programme, offered at institutions such as the University of Southampton; a four-year programme with one year's industry placement at Falmouth; or a four-year course incorporating a foundation year at Regent's.
Course content always varies, so – appropriately – it's good to shop around to find the right style for you. At the University of Southampton it's more about theory than practice, explains Amanda Bragg-Mollison, programme leader on the BA (Hons) in fashion marketing. "Students are taught to develop strategic marketing skills and an in-depth understudying of global consumer markets," she says.
They'll also develop complementary skills including networking, communication, presentation, negotiation and team working, she adds. "In the fashion industry it's vital to be able to work in teams and this skill is embedded in our curriculum." Students will also be brought up to speed on the latest graphic design software to help sharpen their digital skills and give them an edge when presenting their work – or when hunting for jobs on graduation.
Prospective students searching for the best academic fit might also consider a course's links with industry, the kind of guest speakers it attracts, practical projects, and even class size. Stark says that the smaller class size at Regent's, while not for everyone, "appeals to students who want to have a lot of contact with their lecturers and with visiting professionals".
Whatever size of class students find themselves in, they're likely to find a wide range of differing opinions and ideas – this is fashion, after all. As a result they'll practise debating and learn how to evaluate and reflect on their work and the work of other students. It all helps in the workplace, says Stark. "Students graduate as informed professionals with a good understanding of moral, ethical and social issues – both surrounding fashion and more generally."
With CVs suitably dressed to impress, roles in fashion marketing are the obvious choice for graduates but they're far from the only option – the industry offers many related roles, from retailing to design. Both Stark and Bragg-Mollison have graduates either interviewing for or working with major brands including H&M and Topman. "Most of our graduates work in fashion, but a few have moved into other areas, setting up businesses or agencies," adds Stark.
Regardless of the roles graduates find themselves in, Stark believes that they'll be part of a fascinating industry. "It's about people and about how they express themselves," she says. "It's very complex, being closely related to art, music, film and other areas of culture, while at the same time being very commercial."
Bragg-Mollison agrees, adding that from the first day of the course to the end of their careers, fashion acolytes will be kept on their toes.
"If you're interested in culture, people and style, this industry will appeal to you. There is never a dull moment in fashion!"
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