“She gathered her blouse to place it right, The ramp went ablaze with adoration, She spilled the beans of tolerance, And they cursed her wits.”
For a model having suffered a wardrobe malfunction on the ramp, such is the truth that entails. It is what the world believes is fashion. Catwalk, revealing clothes, drugs, alcohol, fake talks and kisses in the air is what the fashion industry is usually associated with. Talk about getting a degree in fashion, one is looked upon with frowning eyebrows and
dubious eyes. Talk about a designer getting fame in Milan Fashion Week, one feels it
is the art of luck. However when it comes to shopping for the best of clothes, these
aspects are as inconspicuous as a red ant in snow-capped mountains. We need stylish
tops, the most beautifully fitted denims, dresses that are similar to Coco Chanel’s
design and shoes as immaculate as designed by Christian Louboutin; but our perception of fashion stays haughty and negative.
Now is the time to break the bubble. Fashion education is not just about learning how to
make clothes anymore. It is no more about a zoned out person sitting under a tree and
sketching his inspiration and giving it to the tailor to turn it into a garment. It has
moved leaps and bounds beyond a model walking the ramp with the audience roaring
with applause. Fashion has escalated to levels that are not captured by the common
man’s eye. The levels being retail, planning, merchandising, sales and marketing, supply
chain, warehousing and many more.
Fashion industry has a whole science associated with it. It is an arena where R&D is
the crux, calculations make the form and the garment emerges from the window display.
It is business, it is numbers, it is customers, and it is about what would sell and where
it would sell. It is planning what is right for which store of which location. It is about
knowing your market beyond knowing your competitors. The fashion industry works not
just on what is displayed inside the glass window, it functions on who is viewing it and
from which angle.
Fashion industry is growing to be an amalgamation of both product and service
centric fields. With the luxury brands bringing out the niche, intricate detail
loving club of the country the beauty of merchandise is slowly being replaced by
the act of selling it. I remember this one time when, just to browse through the
merchandise mix, I went inside a Being Human store in Ambience mall, Gurgaon
and ended up picking two tank tops only because a speech and hearing impaired
sales representative did his job with so much passion and conviction.
This industry is a very small domain of what lies above and beyond. It is an industry where everybody knows everybody. So if you have had a haughty fight with a senior in college and thought that it wouldn’t matter because you shall never see her again, think again! She might just be your boss after a few years. National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai has taught me that you need not wear the most hyped clothes available in the market to feel good about yourself. You need not flaunt a curvy figure to fit into the peer group of NIFTians. You can be as ordinary as a girl wearing a simple worn out T-shirt and denims and go to college with confidence in your words and attitude that doesn’t look down upon people. The place makes you realize that it is your words and demeanour that is required by this industry, of course with brains to tackle your customers. The place turns young fashion rebels into individuals capable enough to not just study fashion, analyse the trends and seer through the loopholes in garments but live amidst fashion, gather their own inferences of designs, believe the data from the past and
use it to turn around the business.
Coming from a family that has always taught me to remain simple and guard my ethics and values with supreme will, which has never seen any member pursue this stream as a full time career, I did not think I would fit into this minutely stitched fabric of golden yarn. However, fashion education has its own way of weaving the best fibres together. Sooner or later you realise that you are in an industry that is evolving each day by making you learn a plethora of concepts and formulae to run the business and offering a ladder of growth that not just makes you stand out of the crowd but also makes you conscious of the fact that a single wrong number in an excel sheet will either make or break the business. So at the end of the day you don’t really have a job but a business to run.
From waking up to a freezing morning one day before my chemistry practical board
exam in February 2009 to rush into the shower, pack my set of stationery and appear
for an entrance exam of NIFT unprepared, groggy and grumpy; to this date when I eat,
drink and sleep numbers associated with fashion retail, the desire to do something out
of the box turned my manner of thinking, goals of my life and my career around like a hurricane.
The day I decided to pursue fashion as my career I was thrown questions like “How will
your UG help you?”, “Why do you want to change your domain?”, “Why not continue
with IT field?” I never had enough answers to give to people except for the statement “I
think I belong there”. Well, your education never goes waste. It is never too late to follow
your dreams. Even if you have had degrees in history or commerce and you feel that you
cannot spend your life working on excavation grounds or handling accounts; and you
buy a Vogue every month to check on the latest trends, it is not too late to give fashion
education a shot. It grooms you well enough to make you feel that you can exist peacefully in there.
“You can never be overdressed or over educated,” said Oscar Wilde. Let your
fashion dream be the court train of a wedding dress by Vera Wang and you will soon find
yourself in her workshop ordering fabric trims! Who knows it fills the void in your heart just like it did mine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chhavi Gulati is a retail planner with U S Polo Assn. under Arvind Lifestyle Brands
Limited. She belongs to Delhi and has a post graduate degree in fashion management from NIFT, Mumbai and B.Tech in Computer Science from IP University, Delhi and a diploma in creative writing in English from IGNOU, Delhi. She loves to travel, read and write.