By Amalie Andersen |
With blood, sweat and Covid-19 sewn into their clothes, a class of third-year Fashion Design students are five months away from stepping into the world of fashion. Unlike previous graduates, these students have been expected to work from their bedrooms all across the UK.
Rhianna Hinton is the student rep for third-year students studying Fashion Design at Falmouth University. Before face masks, Teams lectures and washing your hands till they bleed dry was a part of everyday life, Rhianna didn’t have a clear vision for her career. She says she has never been the person who decides on one thing, “however, since Covid-19, I have in some ways decided what I want to do with my future.”
For her dissertation Rhianna looked into the disparity between women’s enrolment on fashion courses and their success in the industry. “I discovered that essentially women, through no fault of their own, are less likely to succeed in fashion compared to men. To say that’s put me off a career in fashion is an understatement,” says Rhianna.
As part of her research, she spoke to a recent Fashion Design graduate who had applied for over 300 jobs and had gotten nowwhere. “The climate today is more brutal than ever for designers and jobs are few and far between,” explains Rhianna.
Breaking into the world of fashion was already hard enough, but now it can seem impossible for many students. Add blended learning to the cocktail of Covid-19, limited internship opportunities and cancelled graduate catwalks, and you have a recipe for fashion students struggling to feel prepared for the real world.
“I believe that blended learning doesn’t work for my kind of degree. Although I appreciate the tutors hard work in trying and I understand the reasons we must learn this way”, Rhianna states. “But it’s been really hard to adapt to this new style after two years of being free in the studio to experiment and explore”.
With the campus being closed, fashion students cannot make use of the Fashion and Textile Institute where they normally have access to industry standard equipment. For Rhianna this resulted in spending £350 on a flatbed industrial machine: “It’s a bit ridiculous but if I didn’t buy that machine, I wouldn’t have been able to complete the work for the hand in date, due to travelling home in the government travel window for students.”
Rhianna adds she has not been the only one spending money on equipment. “We just can’t complete the work required without it. Blended learning has been successful in some elements such as completing portfolios which we normally do digitally but producing the work to put in our portfolios has been very hard.”
Rhianna and other third year students are not the only one struggling to turn their bedroom into their studio. Alice Warren is a second year Fashion Design student at Falmouth, and she finds blended learning hard: “We are a very practical course. I think it’s very important to be able to learn physically in fashion because we need those practical skills, and without seeing them taught it’s hard to pick them up to the same standard through online tutorials.”
In the future Alice would like to either make wedding dresses or stage costumes, but at this present moment she doesn’t feel prepared. “It’s because of Covid-19 and the fact we are missing a lot of workshops which we haven’t had the change to be taught yet due to the lockdowns,” she explains.