Fashion Design students enjoy great respect in the society. If you have cousins who are studying fashion, you must be aware of the royal treatment khalas and phupoos (aunts) give to them. I used to be green with envy and when my “fashionable cousins” came to family gatherings; they would constantly boast about the amazing dresses they were making, and the celebrities and models they get to meet on fashion events. Well, who knows what’s behind the curtains! I got in touch with some of my school friends who are studying fashion in some of the leading fashion schools in Pakistan to find about their experience.
The idea has to come from Mars, seriously!
“Beta, think out of the box! Customers won’t even look at your dress; forget about selling it,” the teacher of Advanced Styling course yelled at a first-year student. Teachers expect students to come up with weird Lady Gaga style designs that are out of the ordinary.
Well, for fashion design students, the struggle is real. My first weird design that got me 3.6 GPA in my second semester was made of safety pins. I created a top by joining safety pins together; my teachers were shocked because according to them they had never seen such a thing before - really? Whereas, my parents got really concerned; in their opinion, safety pins were not safe to use and that I still had time to switch my subject and study something more sensible.
Then, one of my friends created an asymmetrical skirt with scraps of card sheet and newspaper; she even spent a lot of time on embroidering floral patterns on it to amaze the teachers. And, some students made flappers with garbage bags and the nylon dress that had to be filled with water and dye to create drama. After getting them a good GPA these dresses end up in store: mum takes the safety pins from the top whenever she needs to tuck something, the newspaper dress has crumpled and the embroidery has come off, flappers have already been used for collecting garbage and thrown away, and the poor nylon shirt is just a mess, towed away in one corner of the store room.
These designs may have impressed the teachers, but they had no value in the market. I mean, nobody can wear a safety pin top, a newspaper skirt, or a garbage bag flapper, at least not on planet earth.
Fashion is feminine
Visit a fashion school, and you wouldn’t find a single student working on a dress that is technically for boys. Even the boys, who are a minority in the fashion department, prefer making girls’ dresses. They say there is not much they can do with a tee, a pair of sneakers and jeans! Then, we also have genderless fashion trends if boys are interested, like we have shaadi ke ghararas that can be worn by both males and females.
Cost is an arm and a leg
Unfortunately, many students who decide to study fashion aren’t aware of the finances they would need during their studies; they think it’s only the semester fee that they have to afford.
You step in and you will be given a list of hundreds of items that you would have to buy for studying fashion. Students get shocked when they find that the first item on the list, which is a set of high quality paint brushes, costs around five thousand rupees; rest you can imagine! Art material is too pricey in our part of the world. Some students give up and leave after a semester or two, just because they can’t afford to spend so much. Nobody is there to assist them, not even the institute!
Killing the ‘sage on the stage’
On our first day of the university, after attending all sorts of orientation sessions, we were allowed to move around the campus. Students were sitting here and there with their laptops and were watching fashion shows, making sketches, working on mannequins in their art studios; it was fun to watch them. And we thought to ourselves how amazing life would be here; fewer lectures and more practical work!
Within a year, we came to this conclusion that we were doing an insane amount of practical work; we so badly wanted to sit passively in the classroom and listen to the teacher for hours. But there are no lectures. Teachers just come to the class, give instructions, and burden us with more practical work and leave. Sometimes, it feels like we are hapless victims of the practicality of our subject. We need boring lectures, too!
Copy pasting is so fashionable
We pity students of Social Sciences who can’t easily get away with plagiarism because their teachers are now using really smart tools to assess their work; there is nothing that a plagiarism detection tool can’t detect. Even Google - students’ all-time saviour - is a really cool plagiarism detector. But, technology has its limits. Fashion design students have a reputation of being creative, imaginative and innovative. All these adjectives reinforce whatever we create is genuinely a creation of our minds only. Guys, this is the biggest lie ever! (Sorry for speaking the truth, my friends). Over the span of three years in fashion school, we have mastered the skill of copying ideas. Every year, we see thousands of fashion shows and fashion weeks happening all over the world which is followed by thousands of video uploads online. In arts, nobody can accuse you of plagiarism; with little tweaks, the idea is your property - which can of course be copied by someone else later on. Don’t we see big names in our fashion industry doing that?
We have to come up with several designs every semester and according to the teachers, each design has to be “spectacular, out-of-this-world and unique”. To impress the teachers, we resort to the internet, fashion magazines and online fashion websites for ideas. Sometimes, we pick the idea as it is or the students who always fear of getting caught creates a hotchpotch - which is more aesthetic! Last semester, we created a streetwear denim collection that was inspired from the Paris Fashion Week 2017. Like one of the design in the fashion week, we spray-painted positive political slogans all over the fabric to create our jackets and skirts; and now, the joke is our teacher was really impressed and said, “Now, you people are using your minds. Keep it up!”