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Ashvini Sivakumar

Profession
BA Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding Alum
College
London College of Fashion
Person Type
Alumni
Ashvini Sivakumar - beyond FASHION (LCF X Westfield Poster)
Ashvini  Sivakumar

Biography

Ashvini is a 2020 graduate from the BA Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding course at LCF.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and bred in Malaysia, and call Johor Bahru, the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, my hometown.

I am currently a freelance brand and graphic designer. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I am currently based out of Johor Bahru.

What have you been working on since finishing your course?

Since completing my degree in July, I have been polishing up my online portfolio and CV, alongside working on my Master’s applications. I have also spent the last few months working with a few clients on some freelance graphic design projects, as well as getting accredited in a few coding and design software.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?

Growing up I didn't think I would be pursuing a career in fashion, but I always had an inkling that I would be doing something creative. I grew up in a pretty creative family and was exposed to art and design from a young age, so my love for art was always there.

It wasn't until I started sketching dress designs for fun with my friend in school that I realised that fashion was something I was thoroughly passionate about and that I could make a career out of it.

What are your plans for the next few years? Where would you like to see yourself professionally?

In the next year, I see myself moving back to London to pursue a Master’s degree in new media and communications as it’s an industry that I would love to further explore. During the programme, I would like to gain experience through internships and hopefully build my freelancing client base.

Professionally, I would love to work with a few branding agencies or companies as a graphic designer or branding assistant across the globe before I eventually decide to settle down in one place. I have also always had my eye on moving to New York or back to Amsterdam one day, so I guess we'll see.

Why did you choose to study at LCF? What attracted you to this university?

As cliche as this sounds, I actually had an LCF advertisement on the wall of my childhood bedroom growing up as that's where most of my idols, like fellow Malaysian shoe designer Jimmy Choo, went to school and because it was 'the' fashion school at that time. It was also featured in every single fashion bible or textbook that I could get my hands on growing up so that really solidified my choice.

I also loved that it was based in London, one of the fashion capitals of the world and somewhere I always dreamed of living. But most of all, I knew that going to LCF would help open many doors for me because of its prestigious alumni, industry connections and the weight an LCF degree holds within the industry.

Why did you decide to study BA Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding?

I initially joined LCF in 2015 and completed their IISF Foundation in hopes of eventually pursuing a career in fashion design. The foundation was great and really exposed me to different segments of the industry, and even though I could have moved forward with fashion design it was then that I realised that fashion media was more my calling. I realised that I loved working with new media and enjoyed the amalgamation of business and design that fashion media offered me.

So when it came to choosing my degree, it was pretty obvious that the FVMB course was the one for me as it offered me the opportunity to learn about the business side of the industry (branding, marketing, etc) without losing my love for being creative (designing spaces and proposals).

What did you enjoy the most about your course?

Most definitely the freedom and flexibility of the course! Despite it being a predominantly fashion and visual merchandising based course, I was allowed to explore different industries and media throughout the years and have been able to graduate with a huge skillset – from coding and design software skills to basic carpentry – which will allow me to be very flexible with my career path.

I also loved my placement year and am so grateful for all the crazy opportunities that came my way. I had the most amazing time working for my dream brand and getting to create work that I'm so proud of, and additionally being able to move to Amsterdam for 6 months for a study exchange was just amazing. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to become more confident in my abilities and myself. And it will always be a year I look back fondly on.

Can you tell us a bit about your favourite project/piece of work completed on the course?

My favourite project I ever worked on whilst on the course was the ASOS project towards the end of my first year. It was the first time I got to work with a big brand, so I was kind of starstruck and nervous, but I had a really great team who made the experience fun. Although I do cringe when I look back at the final outcome, the experience taught me a lot about key branding, communication and customer engagement models, and really pushed me out of my comfort zone as we had to present and market our final idea to a team from the ASOS head office.

Best advice you received from a lecturer/tutor during your time at LCF?

“Always be flexible and have fun with your work, but most of all believe in yourself!”

I come from a less creative and more academic inclined background than my peers, so I was very self-conscious about my ideas and creative work during the first few years at LCF. My tutors picked up on this early on and always pushed me to be more confident in my work and to be less literal and serious, which definitely impacted how I handled briefs and in turn changed my final outcomes for the better. It also helped me enjoy the process behind my projects instead of stressing myself out trying to make it perfect to impress others. Additionally, with the fashion industry and this profession constantly evolving at every turn my tutors always advised us to be adaptable and to take on every challenge we face head-on.

What advice would you give to potential students who would like to enrol on this course?

Some advice that I would give is to go into this course with an open mind and to make full use of all the resources you have access to. Your time at university is what you make of it, so be sure to be fully informed about what resources LCF and UAL can offer you and take full advantage of it (from guest lecture sessions, free adobe accreditations and even access to the Stanley Kubrick archives at LCC). LCF also has such a diverse student body and teaching team so make sure to make those connections as you may never know where it might lead you.

The FVMB course can be pretty broad at times so make sure that you are doing what you want and remember to explore aspects of the industry that excite you and incorporate that into your work. Go beyond your usual design aesthetic and experiment with different techniques even if you aren't sure because seeking discomfort is how you grow as a creative. Additionally, remember to listen to the tutors and always ask for their feedback. Their knowledge and industry insights are so valuable and can help elevate your projects to the next level.

Also, opt for doing a placement year if you can. It is such a unique and eye-opening experience as you get a taste of how the industry functions and get to build up your professional portfolio before graduating. Everyone who went on a placement year always comes back raving about their experiences and how it changed their perspective and confidence, so definitely consider it.

Lastly, as the tutors say every year without fail, remember to enjoy yourself. It is one of the most rewarding and special times in your life so work hard to achieve your goals but also don't forget to enjoy yourself because it all ends eventually.