collecting thoughts

So… I’ve been thinking a lot about the fashion education/apparel industry disconnect. It’s a subject that I have a lot to say about, but also a subject I find overwhelming. It is so simple to point out the shortcomings of the system but doing that won’t change anything. Somehow solutions and ideas must be developed, and I want to write a piece that will inspire, not alienate, the twin towers of the fashion establishment.

It seems like much of the research I’ve done and my own pavement-pounding keeps leading me back to this one issue. I tend to resist activism like most members of Generation Myspace, I am used to being politically ambivalent. Yet somehow this particular subject resonates within me, even making me feel things… I’m not used to feeling so strongly about something. I resent how a lack of communication and connection at the top is contributing to the decline of my industry.

The most intimidating aspect of these feelings is how they are pushing me towards dealing with large, established organizations. These infrastructures are often resistant to change and as an individual (and a young person), I think I lack the necessary authority to be able to motivate multiple levels of beaurocracy.

My tactic therefore will remain grassroots and based on individuals. I know that I have individual visitors from my university, from Industry Canada (this gives me a lot of hope!), and from my provincial and federal governments, and also professionals representing the apparel industry. Shoutouts to all of you – you rock! I’d love to hear your responses and your ideas – let me know what you think. I’m at a stage where I’m collecting information and trying to organize my thoughts, so points of view from all corners is welcomed. My email is

One individual who consistently inspires me is Julian Roberts, who as a professor, designer, and a free-thinking individual has a unique perspective on this subject. In a recent post on the fashion spot his comments resonated…

University has to encourage students way beyond their education.

To be resourceful, committed, excited, confident, respectful, communicative & opportunistic.

Students have to graduate with their eyes open,
too many fashion students leave university disorientated by graduation.
Thrown out after the catwalk show party is over into an industry that doesn’t actually need a load of upstarts thinking they’re ‘designers’.

What the industry needs is hard workers, people with more than one skill, creative people who are a safe pair of hands, and who appreciate that there is creativity beyond the garment, in the promotional, marketing & business sides of fashion, that you have to make money & balance the bread&butter work with the high art creative statements.

Knowing who you are talking to & who your audience is high on the agenda.

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10 thoughts on “collecting thoughts”

  1. It’s very interesting that you bring up this topic. And the same kind of problems exist everywhere:

    “These infrastructures are often resistant to change and as an individual (and a young person), I think I lack the necessary authority to be able to motivate multiple levels of beaurocracy.”

    I’m toying with a barge analogy: getting out of the bridge (where you have to be some sort of authority and be asked to steer) and become a tug-boat. Innovative leadership may be able to pull these monstrosities along without them even being aware of it.

    Hope that makes sense. I have confidence in your creativity!

  2. ok… there is so much I could say about this topic (after only being out of school for one year) and I actually started to try and write this brilliant comment. But it was starting to shape into an essay, so I think I’ll just say that I wish you lots of luck, and am very much looking forward to reading your piece.

  3. Danielle, you are doing some great shit! I love that you are asking all these questions, I love your inquisitveness and I think you underestimate your skills as a mover and shaker! I left school for many reasons but specifically because I felt my training was not going to be relevant to the ‘real world’.

    I’m now having tuition from a teacher who works full time in the industry (35 years experience), I love that she tells it like it is. I have to say that there were very few kids at my school that actually wanted to get their hands dirty, and please would everybody get over the graduation show, it really is not the be all and end all!

    I look forward to hearing more about you’re investigations, I’ll join your fashion liberation party if you start one! he he.

    You think Canadian fashion has some issues you wanna check out the scene here in Melbourne, many vibrant designers yet zero support. I have to also say that the Melbourne fashion incubator is so stagnent and inactive, they haven’t updated the web site for months, they are still advertising events they had way back in Feb and no details at all about what they do or how to get help.Bugs the hell out of me as someone hungry for information on the local fashion scene.

    I agree Julian rocks, have you ever done any of his crazy pattern cutting?

    Also you were right, my table dimensions were over the top, bigger is not always better, so you’re right, if it’s too wide I’d have to climb on top to reach the middle, thanks for the reality check!

    Keep up the inspiring work! I think you will make a difference.

  4. Rebecca – that’s a great analogy. I think I’d rather write a really good piece, interview and connect people. I wouldn’t want to be a political leader even if it was for the fashion liberation party… lol. Even if all I can do is provide a thoughtful analysis of the situation that still might make a difference. At least generate some discussion and ideas.

    Tammy! I wish you had written your piece. If you’d rather not post a comment, why not email me? Oh, and why don’t you come to Fashion Blogger Night tomorrow?

    Lol – I’ve only done Julian’s pattern cutting method in the most tiny timid way (free form small leather bags).

    Fashion outside of major fashion centers is another interesting subject that merits attention. There are some positive advantages (lower overheads, lifestyle benefits) and of course the usual significant obstacles, though it seems to me with the internet and globalization fashion may yet get less location-specific. I’d be interested in hearing your views on Melbourne fashion, and Verbal Croquis’ assessment of San Fransisco, for instance.

  5. I’d love to do the exercise you’re doing here in Melbourne when I get some free time, I’m still in major reno mode though. I think that Toronto and Melbourne may have some similar issues.

    I am now subscribed to Rag Trader the Australian fashion industry trade magazine and I am learning a lot through that.

    As I don’t blog anymore(hehe!) I may just have to swing by here sometime and share my findings if anyone’s interested!

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