Knowledge Exchange Immersion - MA Global Fashion Retailing
In January 2022, students from MA Global Fashion Retailing took part in immersive, industry-focused events across a three-day knowledge exchange – providing an opportunity to connect, learn and collaborate. We asked students to share their experiences, insights and highlights from each session.
DAY ONE: YNAP Sustainability Team x MA Global Fashion Retailing Hackathon
Written by Pranav Jeyaprakash and Ethel Yan
The YNAP Hackathon was a perfect opportunity for students in fashion business to interact with professionals from the industry. This immersive experience posed a challenge for students to implement fashion sustainability in luxury retail within the context of a ‘Secret Room’ pop up initiated by YOOX. Students were allocated into the groups of six, brainstorming and collaborating to create a proposal to promote and improve the customer experience.
It was great to see so many amazing ideas emerge through the process, and to work with people who have different perspectives. It was an intense session, but it was amazing to see how it all came together in the end and how we managed to produce the whole presentation within a few hours.
The Hackathon provided us with a chance to experience real-world business problems, solving and brainstorm within a meaningful context. The industry partners from YOOX gave us a lot of guidance and honest feedback about our proposals. It was very insightful for us to know that fashion tech companies like YNAP focus on e-commerce and Gen Z consumers. It also provided some useful future research directions for us.
Value analysis from several perspectives is critical, as it allows for a comprehensive examination of various aspects of a certain subject. Involving students in pursuing a common objective demonstrated a commitment to the goals of the event. The winning team’s concept was appreciated at the end.
DAY TWO: Field Trips
Written by Ben Butling and Eleanor Kutesko-Pawsey
Fashion For Good Museum, Amsterdam (Virtual Tour)
This event introduced students to the Fashion for Good Museum based on Rokin in the centre of Amsterdam. Fashion for Good is a platform for sustainable fashion innovation. Their mission is to inspire people to reimagine how fashion is designed, made, worn and reused.
Students were virtually guided around the historical museum building and were told various stories about the clothes we wear, and how our habits affect people and the planet. Furthermore, students weren’t simply viewers but also got the chance to interact – as the tour guide asked them some questions throughout the virtual tour. Students were also more than welcome to ask plenty of questions in return. Overall, the experience was very informative and gave lots of food for thought.
Sustainability within the fashion industry is an incredibly important and topical subject. Nowadays, responsible and sustainable fashion is an almost unavoidable subject for any student studying a fashion related course. Therefore, being given the opportunity to be guided around such an informative and innovative space all about sustainability in fashion was very valuable.
Even though the event took place virtually, it was done so in an engaging and thought-provoking manner. Students were left feeling inspired and encouraged to think about their own relationship with the clothes they wear. Many students even expressed an interest in visiting the museum in real life should they ever find themselves in the Netherlands.
RÆBURN Studios (IRL Tour)
The second studio tour from the Knowledge Exchange took the cohort to Christopher Raeburn’s East London Studio, situated in the old manufacturing buildings of Burberry in Hackney. From the outset, students were immersed into tactile learning and guided through the history of RÆBURN’s ethos – from the repurposed military parachutes used in the designer’s first creations, to the foundations of his responsible thinking.
Students delved into the archives of Christopher Raeburn, listening to stories of the material innovation used by the design teams, and the positive collaborations within their history. Some of the best examples were in their partnerships with Aesop – creating repurposed wash bags, and with Finisterre – using recycled materials to create ready-to-wear garments that took a stand on responsible retailing. Built into the conversation with RÆBURN’s team, students were invited to try on garments from the archives, to really understand the thought that goes into each product, adding further excitement to the visit.
With the course taking an authentic and future-facing stance on sustainability being a core issue that fashion retail faces, it was great to see brands such as RÆBURN taking such a strong standpoint on responsible design, implementing this within their products.
Jolyon, Head of Retail at RÆBURN, offered further insights into the core values of the brand, speaking on the three pillars of practice. RÆDUCED, RÆCYCLED and RÆMADE are categories in which each product fits into within the designer's label. Students were informed of the methods through which materials are remade from old military gear, sourced from all over the world to repurpose into garments.
Furthermore, Jolyon expressed that even the core lines of the brand were taking on more responsible design forms – with reduced water use, reduced waste and organic cotton.
To end the day, students were invited to try on products, explore the studio, speak to staff and take pictures throughout the space, immersing themselves into the brand. It was an excellent learning experience. Further conversation flowed within later weeks, discussing how to tackle issues of sustainable practice – induced by this visit.
DAY THREE: Fashion Retail Hot Topics Student-Led Symposium
Written by Uma De and Hannah Chiwenda
The dynamic Block One of MA Global Fashion Retailing ended in January with an enthusiastic dose of student-led symposium, spread across three days of industry engagement. The symposium was meant to ignite the conversations around fashion retail hot topics, shaping the industry.
The third day of the event saw a zestful crowd consisting of keynote speakers from the industry and rigorous engagement of the MA Global Fashion Retailing students. The full day event required planning for over a month with the guidance of Course leader, Bethan Alexander and therefore had the schedule set. Students gained insights and knowledge from the industry advisory board panel discussion, which kicked off the vivacious energy for the day. Six themes of hot topics were explored through a mix of Pecha-Kucha style presentations and panel discussions by the students. The event became more fruitful with the presence of guests, advisors and lecturers.
The students gave it a fly to be proactively involved on the day. They were required to consciously engage with the fashion retail hot topics and share knowledge with the cohort. This provided the perfect opportunity to leverage from, considering they would soon be delving into their Masters research projects. It broadened their knowledge of different hot topics while narrowing down their areas of interest.
The students had the opportunity to gain invaluable feedback from the specialists on their themes of interest. The industry advisory panel intensified the whole experience with their inputs and discussions. It was all about consolidate learning and motivational spirit to get started with the next phase of the course.
The event overall was informative and interactive – however the highlight would be the industry advisory panel board discussion. It consisted of experienced keynote speakers from different areas of the fashion industry. The experts sharing their knowledge and perspectives about the current fashion retail hot topics with the students was definitely a noteworthy episode. Considering the time constraints, a few of the students even got to have their questions answered by the panel.
Overall, the event was insightful and supportive, sparking interesting conversations regarding the future of retail. Being in such a supportive academic space provided a sense of community – knowing that all students have potential to be the future leaders of fashion retail, and their research contributions could really make a lasting impact on the industry.
As students of the MA Global Fashion Retailing course, understanding and critically analysing the retail landscape forms the majority of the scope of learning. The event presented opportunities for students to enhance their learning through engaging in the retail hot topics. Not only did it provide guidance for their academic research, but it also challenged students to step outside their comfort zone. It was an opportunity to enhance their communication skills, which are imperative to progress in this course. The curtain was pulled down for the day with drinks and celebrations.