Christopher Hazlehurst is currently completing his Integrated Masters in (MSc) International Fashion Management. He tells us about his experiences and highlights at LCF, why he chose to study his course and his advice for prospective students.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Kent, South East England but I grew up in the west of Germany as my father was with the forces. I moved to London straight after school.
Why did you choose to study MSc International Fashion Management?
I had a strong interest in fashion because, in my opinion, it is just like arts, music and architecture. It reflects how a society or a culture sees itself at any given point in time. And to be honest, I have never been good at drawing, so I chose to stay on the business side of fashion and learn to deal with the managerial effort behind it.
I found that this course offers me everything that I would need to be successful in this competitive environment: being taught by former industry people; learning Mandarin which is a vital language in the fashion world, and at the same time giving me a solid academic education to explore key issues and challenges in this field through research.
And why did you choose London College of Fashion?
London College of Fashion is one of the most specialised colleges in the UK and maybe even the world. I like that we focus our generic business models and theories on the fashion industry. Another key reason for me was the industry links LCF has built up over the years, which makes it easier to find career opportunities once you graduate. It is a highly regarded college by many companies and having this name on your CV makes things a lot easier.
Tell me about your experience of the course? What are your highlights?
I have found that you get the support you need at every step, along the way. Also, because the course is so small (about 50 students) your lecturers and tutors know what is going on in your life and sometimes their advice goes beyond the academic context. You are given the freedom to choose topics and issues that interest you the most, so you're not all forced to go down the same route. There is so much you can then learn from talking to your fellow students as each and everybody will develop a certain key area of expertise. This comes in handy when you conduct group assignments.
Highlights for me so far have been that in year 1 I won an award with my team for the most innovative first year project, in which we developed a womenswear capsule collection for Hackett. Then after my second year I did a placement year at the formal menswear department of a UK department store. It was an amazing experience as I got the chance to apply what I learnt in the first two years, in an actual fashion business. After my placement year, I was awarded the Diploma in Professional Studies: Placement Student of the Year award for my project on communication between store staff and head office.
What are the facilities like at LCF?
Most of my teaching takes place at High Holborn with the recently refurbished Blueprint Café and Bar. The building is nice and modern and the learning zone or the postgraduate studying room offers you an ideal place to study in between your sessions. Ever since our LCF library has been renovated it has become a welcoming place to study. It has a huge selection of contemporary fashion management related books but also other interesting items such as the Vogue archive. I have certainly noticed a lot of changes during my time at LCF and things are always kept in a good condition. If there is something missing, you can always speak to your course rep and request it.
What are the LCF staff like?
They really look after you, not just your academic staff but also student services and the library staff. There is always somebody who can help you with your query and it is very easy to get in touch with them.
What is the balance of theoretical and practical work on the course?
The first two terms of the year tend to be theoretic and you learn a lot of methods, analytical techniques but also practical calculations. You should not be too scared of numbers in this course, but everything is taught from the beginning and support is given to you when you need it. At the end of each year, you have a project in which you are required to apply the things you have previously learned. Mostly this has taken the shape of a consultancy project. For example in year 3 you take on the role of a buying or supplier team and you have to negotiate over the order quantities and production facilities. These are things I have observed during my placement year therefore I would say it is very realistic and practical and prepares you very well to work in this industry. Now that I am approaching my masters it is of course becoming more academic and statistical.
Have you been to any events put on by the College (the Inside the Industry series, for example)?
During my first two years I attended the ‘Meet the Expert’ event, which takes place on a Thursday evening. It is a good starting point to find out what different roles and people there are in the fashion world. After my first year I took part in a project between the LCF Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Nike in which I got the chance to work with design students.
Have you got involved with any societies or the Student's Union?
I have been a course representative since my third year and so have had involvement with the Student’s Union. Last year we experienced an issue with the way our rooms were set up and with the support of my lecturers and the SU we managed to rectify the problem. I enjoy the role of a course representative as we can have an impact on the way our course will be taught in the future and therefore make an even better experience for students that join LCF after us.
Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of your course?
My big passion outside University is politics. I am a member of a party and work as a London councillor group observer and youth coordinator of my local constituency. I find that the fashion industry, despite contributing a large sum to the UK GDP, is completely underrepresented in national politics. This is something I could go on about for hours, my friends can tell you!
Do you have any tips for prospective students (about the course / LCF / living in London)?
Start getting experience in the industry as soon as you can! Whether it is just a weekend job at a store or interning at a head office for some weeks, it is absolutely key that you get your name out there. London has so many exciting opportunities but it is very competitive too. Also, keep up with what is going on in the (fashion) world, news, blogs, exhibitions. It comes in very handy when you write your assignments. Furthermore, the university offers a lot of support and amazing opportunities: definitely make the most of it while you are studying at LCF.