MSc Strategic Fashion Management was introduced in 2011 at LCF and has quickly become one of the best international and strategic management focused courses in the UK. Based in High Holborn, the integrated masters degree is between four to five years long depending on whether or not you take a sandwich year while studying. Modules include Corporate Strategy, Supply Chain Management, Marketing and even language lessons in Mandarin.
We caught up with student Alana Kennedy to discuss why the course has blown up in popularity in recent years, and her experiences at LCF.
What course are you studying at LCF?
I am in my fourth year of Integrated MSc International Fashion Management, based in High Holborn.
Why did you choose that course?
Fashion has always been very important to me, so this course attracted me as its designed for my skill set but allowed me to pursue a career in a creative industry too. Specifically, the Integrated MSc course appealed to me because of its international and strategic management focus and the option of a study abroad, do a workplace, as well as the option of doing a Masters’ year.
Why did you choose London College of Fashion?
Coming from the Isle of Man – that dot in the middle of the Irish Sea – I wanted a change. I knew that if I wanted to make a successful career in fashion, I’d have to start in London. As a city there is so many opportunities if you put yourself out there, and LCF was the only university that actually had its campuses in central London.
Can you tell us about what makes your Integrated MSc different to BA Fashion Management?
Well although they are sister courses and share some lectures together, there are some clear differences between the both. Firstly the size. In my year group, BA Fashion Management is approximately 136 students, MSc is 37 students, so with the smaller classes, the lectures tend to be more interactive, and its easier to get tutor time if you need it.
Secondly, the core modules are what sets the MSc and BA apart. Masters of Science, MSc’s core modules are predominantly economic, business or financially-based. The course also focuses predominantly on the international and luxury fashion industry, whilst also working with UK-based retailers for projects. The MSc is targeted more to people looking for a career in marketing, finance, and buying & merchandising.
BA on the other hand, has a higher focus on non-designed based creative roles within fashion in my opinion – whilst also having a focus on marketing, buying and merchandising. They also have modules which focus on fashion styling, visual merchandising and PR.
Do you think doing a Masters is important for a career in fashion?
Originally, I had planned to opt-out of the Masters year as I felt 5 years was just too long. However, I’m now finding that a Masters degree is almost a prerequisite for a job in marketing or business… it is definitely the case in Europe, and becoming more prevalent in London. Now that I’m in Year 4, it really doesn’t seem that long! I’m actually looking forward to the Masters year now as I can specialise and really focus on an area of business that I’m interested in researching more into, after learning the broader modules in Year 1 – 3.
Is the sandwich year in your course compulsory, what UK and international placements could you choose between?
The sandwich course is optional. Most people choose to take a sandwich year and do a full-year work placement with a company in the UK. In Year 2, LCF arranged a series of Career Industry Talks with former placement students and companies that offer placement opportunities who LCF have relationships with such as ASOS, TKMaxx, and Ralph Lauren.
However, if you would like to go abroad there are a few year-placements available as well as the option to study at a university for a term and then undertake a six month placement over there or back in the UK. In my year, the options to study abroad included Mod’Art International in Paris, Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM) in New York, Pearl Academy in New Dehli, and Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Though each year the lists get bigger, and I think now there’s also options to study in Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
Can you tell us what you learnt and enjoyed about your placement year abroad?
For my placement year I chose to spend the year in Paris and study at Mod’Art International. It was an incredible opportunity to live in another country and become fluent in another language – I absolutely loved it!
It was really interesting to study at a different university and see the different approach they take to the same course. Going meant I was able to learn about the French luxury fashion market specifically and do a load of modules that I didn’t have the opportunity to learn about at LCF – I had highly-specialised lectures on specific products such as shoes and lingerie, as well as modules on Fashion Show Event Management, an huge area of fashion that is quite unique to Paris.
After studying at Mod’Art, I procured a 6-month placement as a Junior Marketing Analyst in the Strategic Planning Division at the Global Head Office of the Richemont Group. It was an unbelievable opportunity that I could never have gotten at this stage of my career in London. I got to work on such a variety of interesting marketing projects and on some of the largest luxury brands in the world like Cartier and Montblanc.
The course emphasises on management, supply chain, finance and marketing, can you explain some of the projects you’ve worked on so far?
Every term we are given a different project based on real case studies or working with different brands which focus on a different fashion business area from Buying to Human Resources to Marketing.
My last project for example, I worked with my team at the Head of International Business Development for UK retailer Debenhams, to create and present a market entry strategy for their proposed expansion into China. My team won the project, and were selected to present the project again at the LCF Ted Ex Summit 2014.
The course is designed to help students respond to the needs of the complex and highly competitive global fashion industry, how are you prepared for this?
Well, given that the course is only a few years old, its’ modules and course structure is fairly fresh and reactive to what is happening in the industry today. As an example, my course, and LCF as a whole for that matter are really looking into the future of fashion digital. In my course we have several modules on social media and e-commerce and touch upon how new developing technology is in the process of altering the fashion industry as we know. Another thing that sets us apart from BA is we also learn Mandarin Chinese within our course, in response to the fact that China has become the largest fashion supplier in industry today and the Chinese consumer are critical in the luxury goods market.
What would you say to students thinking about applying for the course?
If you have a business mind but don’t want to do a standard business management degree, apply! This course covers all the key business modules and topics whilst giving you an edge by learning about specific fashion, creative and retail modules which prepare you for a career in fashion.
Also, do the placement year, go abroad if you can, international experience really makes your CV stand out, and an Erasmus year if a much easier (and funner) way to go about getting some!
Where would you like to be working after graduating?
Though it’s a little while off, I would like to be either working in an business consultancy firm or within the marketing team of an international luxury brand, though working in New York is also on my wish list, but we’ll see…