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Bridging the skill gap

Considering the current situation, it is important to introduce students to 3D virtual prototyping, which will serve as an ideal technology for fashion universities

MITHUN BHARDWAJ | New Delhi |

Online classrooms present particular challenges for students seeking hands-on skills – but creative solutions are on the horizon. While some of these changes may or may not be permanent, certain tectonic shifts in industries like fashion are inevitable. If ever there was a time for fashion to reinvent itself, it is now.

Myths versus reality

Expectations of impractical, uncomfortable work attire are floating away. People will consume fashion in a different way now; this means more personalisation for brands, relaxed fundamental clothing and the need for students to get closer to understand the pulse of the modern age customer.

While “fast fashion” is flying out of the shelf, durable and sustainable clothing is making its presence felt like never before; style will sure take a 360-degree turn in a post Covid-19 world.

So while the virus continues to flex its muscle, new curriculum should be added where they should be taught to create creative concepts of practical, cost-effective, affordable fashion to influence customer’s journey.

Improvisation will be the key

Trends in the fashion industry changes very fast with designs and patterns evolving every day in the market. Designers need to keep pacing with new styles and AI algorithms can analyse designs through images to copying popular styles.

3D virtual prototyping is an ideal technology for fashion universities to work with considering distance learning. But most of the students are not well equipped with handling these softwares because these are completely new in the market. Introducing them to these advanced tools will play an important part in the fashion education now more than ever.

More tech apps are coming in which are using augmented reality and virtual reality to give a new consumer experience while shopping and these technologies should be inculcated in the syllabus.

They should learn how to fill skill gaps in the fashion industry, many fashion degrees offered by universities focus too much on the design and marketing aspects of fashion, failing to teach students the revenue aspect of it and how the brand will be scalable in terms of number. They should also be taught how to build brand which will be scalable in terms of revenue.

Technology is crucial but will not replace craft

However, as important as digital technologies have become, at the same time there will be a growing interest in traditional craftsmanship. As many consumers are going for local, crafted products instead of generic, mass-produced options.

The kinds of skills that fashion students should be acquiring now and into the near future have more to do with how they are thinking about and using design, rather than skills specific to a certain technique or process. While there are platforms that allow students to construct patterns, drape and fit virtually, these will not entirely replace the need for hands-on training with the craftsman as we know it today. If anything, we may see the more traditional craftsman techniques being used in tandem with newer digital technologies and more hybrid learning models where students study through a combination of on-site and online education.

Importance of data science for a successful career in fashion

It’s like the story of The Beauty and the Beast; the apparently incompatible but surprisingly perfect match for each other. The “Beast” in reference here is the chaotic multi-billion dollar fashion industry and the “Beauty” here is the works of a powerful and clear model produced by data science. It’s this Beauty that’ll drive the Beast forward.

The fashion industry is an extremely competitive market. In fashion, creative minds work together for endless hours to create global trends for one runway event, and the impact of their designs is simply reduced to a simple Hot or Not verdict by fashion pundits. But data science is here to help create trends that will always be in. Data science will help students with various predictive algorithms that will help them make wiser business decisions. For example, fashion trends can be forecasted to tell them whether the latest collection will get a good response or not or even something as basic as helping them decide whether should design clothing for women or men.

Fashion schools to work more closely with companies and each other

Fashion schools should collaborate more with fashion businesses and other schools. There is a need of more and more academic-corporate partnerships. This will help them learn more practical knowledge than the bookish ones they used to consume.

Companies should help universities to create curriculums and course materials, and universities will equip companies with learning tools so employees can be continuously trained and remain relevant.

The writer is director, Zashed Fashiontech