La scuola che invece c’è

Today, there is a social dimension emerging from fashion beyond its more traditional cultural and financial ones. With this statement, Alberto Bonisoli, president of Piattaforma Sistema Formativo Moda, unfastened the open three days initiative of Fashion Graduate Italia 2017.

The fashion education marathon, held in Base Milano, was built on the premise of critically analysing the Italian fashion education processes, challenges and relevance to an ever-evolving system. If you had the chance to take part in the event, then you would agree, at least partially, that it delivered what was promised.

Scenario Framing

But before we jump into the insights materialising from the myriad of activities that we witnessed and to justly establish the context of the initiative, we are addressing the organising body that ideated it;Piattaforma Sistema Formativo Moda AKA PSFM. Born in 18th February 2008, Milan, the association brings together Italian institutes, academies and universities providing full or partial education in the fashion field. The criteria in which these educational bodies are selected are based on having a record of rich Italian heritage. They further share an essential role in pushing innovation, creating new talents and sequentially providing professional profiles that match and mirror the industry’s metamorphosing needs. Overall, Piattaforma Sistema Formativo Moda primary goals revolve around asserting the identity of the Italian fashion education system, promoting excellence, building a bridge between the schools and the industry, and supporting the education of deserving students through scholarships. PSFM is a fashion education best practice by all means.

The most notable element of the case is that it was accessible to the public. In an industry notorious for its exclusivity, PSFM schools wanted to open their doors to all its stakeholders; academics, students, alumni, aspiring students, industry professionals, supporting political and financial bodies. It was pretty impressive and at times overwhelming the number of people that gathered at the event. It was equally inspiring to see very young students sitting next to the Italian industry movers and shakers. Most poetic of all, though, was seeing academic establishments, that are competitors by definition, working together to support the Italian fashion system, their system.

Our favourite moments#

La Scuola che non c’è##

Source: La Scuola che non c’è panel

The theme—The School That Doesn’t Exist, was meant to involve the head of top leading Italian Fashion Schools to consider the contemporary reality of fashion education and its relevance to that of the industry. The point in focus is to rethink the role of a fashion school; are they primarily a communication front for new designers? Are they mentors or educators? Is the learning responsibility shared between the faculty and students or should it be entirely delegated to the students? What can the school do to incite students to have a continuous education mindset embedded in them?

All these questions and much more were posed by the panel moderator Barbara Trebitsch— Senior Head Academic Projects NABA, DA and answered and reflected upon by the following Industry professionals (please refer to the image above). There were many valuable and relevant insights originating from the talk; from the role of reflection and critical thinking in forming future fashion practitioners, to finding the right balance between rapid execution and slow-thinking and the need to stir the creation of fashion with a context.

What do they say?##

Paolo Meroni
A relevant fashion education would help students in answering three essential points; I AM: they must know who they are, I CAN; objectively understand what their capabilities, and I BELIEVE: being fully aware of their value system.

Adrien Roberts
Proposing a fashion industry that does not have a fashion collection will never happen. People turn to fashion because they want the stories and memories attached to clothes. If not, everyone would buy online, and no one would go to an offline store anymore. The assessment process should shift its criteria to evaluating the student’s ability to reflect and I wonder if the scope of research is still as relevant as it used to be. It might be time to advocate in-depth experimentation instead of in-depth research. The school of tomorrow will teach fashion not clothes.

René van de Velde
Two-thirds of elementary school students will be leading jobs that are yet to be invented. Our focus is to encourage students to contemplate the thinking process. We evaluate their ability to see what they have done, and we assign them adequate time to do so. The school of tomorrow is a place of reflection.

Ian King
Fashion is not going to be the same. In fact, it is already changing, and the education that we are currently providing is no longer relevant. The most significant change lays in the invention of new models (business, profit, and sustainability) and the move of production from Asia to Africa where they are armed with an unstoppable appetite for creating their scenario.
In London, the notion of teaching is changing. We now look for students able to learn and manage their learning. It is no longer a 2 to 3 years programme. It is a 20 to 30 years one. The school of tomorrow will teach students to play.

Robert Cavell-Clarke
The centre of fashion is moving from the traditional cities.

Katie Dominy
On the whole, people are losing their appetite for fashion. In the USA, for the first time in modern history, teenagers are spending more money on food instead of fashion.

Maria Sole Pastori
Young fashion professionals need to focus more on real industry problems, think of fashion within a context and purpose by asking themselves: Why are we making fashion?

What we say##

Domus Academy Students from left: Kanglei Wang, Yibei Liang, Gyanendu Baruah, Giorgia Rosano, Tritti Tarkulwarnont, Adireg Comenoi

To have three days dedicated to Italian fashion education was a precious gift and a reminder of why we are here doing what we do.
If you have lived away from home, you might relate to the fact that even after building a business, a family, and an intimate circle of friends, you often live alienating moments. But here, even if it was for a passing three days, you felt unexpectedly and effortlessly Italian. You felt Italian because you are a member of a system that you share with its community a dialect, ambitions and dreams of an unimaginable future.

At that fleeting moment, you could not care less about others’ ranking of your school. To you, your school is your home; full of contradictions, yet no one could compete with its place in your heart. While sitting to cheer for the young designers showing their collection on the runway, you felt that your school faculty is your family, its alumni are your siblings, its logo is your flag, and its address is your home address. And it hits you that for the rest of your life and whenever you are in a situation to be associated with it, you will consider all its heritage, values, and accomplishments as yours.

That is why our schools matter. That is why you cannot put a price on education. That is precisely why the return on investment could not be measured with a passive generic survey. Because no data is ever able to pay justice to the sense of pride, belonging and emotional connection you feel to the home you chose, the family you build, and the last name that will stick to you for the end of times.

fin. . .