Fashion School doesn’t teach you sh*t

The new year is right around the corner and I took the chance to make one of my annual resolutions come true this time: clean out old papers, documents and clothes. 

Knowing my biggest hurdle in my endeavors would be my closet, I started motivated by old notebooks, papers and jottings. After I already put some garbage bags with various contents in front of my apartment door, my old folders from fashion school fell into my hands. Four pieces in number, each a good five centimeters thick. I held three and a half years of my life in my hands and wondered: did anything that is in there even stick? Without wanting to get ahead of myself: No. 

And not because I simply forgot a large part of it or didn’t pay attention during my studies – but much more because some of the content is far removed from fashion reality and the everyday life of a creative. 

What many fashion universities fail to teach their students is one thing above all: the craft. You learn how to create the most creative, elaborate and pompous concepts and how to stand out from the crowd at all costs. However, craftsmanship often falls by the wayside. How do I create something that will stand the test of time? What does the consumer want at all and how do I achieve it? These are all things that are not taught. Instead, we continued to conceptualize, write texts that needed much more than just a proofreading loop, or just stuck to the idea of creating the best of the best. Something that has never been done before. 

And while many schools boast faculty from all areas of the industry, that often means young creative ones have to deal with instructors who have never learned to really teach. The best friend and helper is then often a red pen that (a la Henry Nannen) glides page by page over neatly printed texts. It’s „kill your darlings”, not kill my work. 

In addition, besides romanticization, a false image of the future, the dwindling self-confidence or the wrong focus within the study program: You do not learn what your own work is worth at all and how to make money out of your profession. As a freelance author, how much can I charge for my text? How much is my time worth, and what happens if I end up with the wrong people in the business? 

However, the question also arises: Can fashion, writing, or any creative process be learned at all? Of course, a certain basic understanding, interest, passion, or whatever, is a must. However, 20% talent and 80% work are behind every success. And to be quite honest: This isn’t something you easily learn in school. 

So what have I learned? Learning and finding your way in such a diverse environment is a never-ending process, so maybe we’ll talk at the next cleanup.