Today, there are over a hundred institutions that offer fashion design courses in the UK alone; in our hyper-connected society of social media, the industry has never been so competitive. But the competition is not the only pressure, as the attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship required to study fashion design is a famously demanding journey which often involves tough criticism from tutors. In the wake of Mental Health Awareness Week, we spoke to final year students about dealing with criticism and if they still love fashion design as their courses come to a close.

 

Joshua Anthony Hansler, University of Portsmouth

 Image credit: Thomas Best & Oliver Whitehead

Image credit: Thomas Best & Oliver Whitehead

What have you enjoyed about studying fashion design?

Fashion gives you such a platform to voice how you feel and to even influence change. I love the fact that from a drawing comes hours of work, multiple patterns, and toiles. I feel like they are the main areas of joy in the fashion industry, watching something beautiful come to life that was hatched from the smallest drawing on the back of a used post-it note; that is when fashion becomes truly inspirational. 

Do you find your tutors’ criticism constructive?

Criticism in the fashion industry is second nature. However, at university criticism is forever followed up by a resolution. I feel criticism is a good thing, if everyone loved everything you do, you would not get better.


 

Alexandra Terris, Solent University

Is there pressure being a fashion design student?

Every university course comes with its own pressures. However, I believe there is a huge pressure put on fashion design students from the hours they are required to put in which can cause strain on personal lives as well as the added pressure of the cost of the degree, and being able to fund your final collection. 

Have you ever found criticism from tutors difficult?

My tutors’ criticism is honest and extremely helpful. Their criticism is what has pushed me over the years to achieve better and do more. Without the wise and useful words, I wouldn’t be anywhere as close as to where I am now. 

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 Alexander Joseph Davies, University of South Wales

 

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What have you enjoyed about studying fashion design?

I’ve really enjoyed developing my skills as a young designer and challenging myself. Learning about the fashion industry has been eye opening and I feel ready for a graduate job because of it.

 

What are the qualities needed to pursue fashion design at university?

It does take a certain kind of person, you need to want it enough to put up with the stress and pressure. 

 


Despina Chatzidakis, Nottingham Trent University

Do you find your tutors’ criticism constructive?

When I receive constructive criticism from my tutors it makes me explore deeper into my work and think about things from a new perspective, so I certainly do find their wealth of knowledge a constructive tool as it enables me to see things from a new angle.

Is there anything that should be changed regarding the pressure of studying fashion design?

As much of a roller-coaster fashion design is, I think the pressure it comes with is an essential part of the course and will prepare you for the fast-paced industry. The pressure has taught me to become thick-skinned and fast paced as well as how to manage time, and without it I wouldn’t be as determined and passionate as I am now.

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What have you enjoyed about studying fashion design?

I have enjoyed learning a whole range of different skills including sewing, pattern cutting, portfolio, drawing and adobe software. I've also made a lot of friends and contacts through uni and internships which has helped my confidence grow massively. 

 

Have you ever found criticism from tutors difficult?

I've found my tutors criticism incredibly helpful, we receive a lot of 1 to 1 tutorials in which they give truthful and constructive feedback which allows us to move forward in our own direction in an effective way. We have a great relationship with our tutors, their door is always open.


Zlata Alekhno, Leeds Arts University

Have you enjoyed your fashion design course?

I genuinely enjoyed all three years. Having no experience in fashion/ sewing before was challenging but always exciting. Moreover, I had amazing support from all tutors and technicians, it helped me a lot.

Is there pressure being a fashion design student?

There is definitely a pressure on fashion design students as well as very high expectations. But I just stopped comparing myself to other people and understood that I have my own journey.So, if I improve with every project and give it 100%, I am very happy. Coming from another country where I didn't have these kind of courses and opportunities allows me to put everything into perspective. I am extremely grateful to be able to study Fashion in the UK.

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This piece in no way seeks to represent the multiplicity of experience whilst studying fashion courses, and only represents the individuals that volunteered to take part. If you have another point of view that you'd like us to include, we'd love to hear your perspective. To get in contact, please email us here. 

Mental Health Awareness Week,  hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is focused on stress this year. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.

If you're struggling with mental heath, know that you're not alone. There are many places to go to seek help - head over to the Mental Health Awareness website here for more information. 

 

 

Words and interviews by Sadie Bargeron