Students from MSc Fashion Forecasting and Analytics discuss their experience on the course
MSc Fashion Analytics and Forecasting is a unique, fully online course which launched last year at LCF, which combines fashion business expertise with machine learning, forecasting and statistical data analysis.
To give prospective students an idea of what it’s like to undertake a course in this new mode of study, we spoke to students from the first cohort of the course to learn more about their experiences in studying online at LCF.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background prior to LCF…
AMINAT: My name is Aminat Akande, I am 23 years old, and I live in London. I studied my bachelor’s degree in Economics, and have worked predominantly in the areas of finance and data. Prior to beginning my course at LCF, I worked as a Financial Planning Analyst at the Estee Lauder Companies, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but my experience also led me to consider specialising my skills in the fashion and beauty industries.
BLANCA: My name is Blanca Romero de Balanzó. Born and raised in Spain, I got my bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Advertising back in 2012. I studied a postgraduate degree in Fashion Communication in 2016. I have worked in digital marketing teams for home and global retail, as well as e-commerce companies based in Barcelona, London and now in Madrid. I currently run my own agency, Kuorum Digital, offering digital marketing services (Paid Media, SEO, Email Marketing, etc) to help SMEs to grow their online revenue.
TRANG: I am Arielle Trang Anh Ta and I am 25 years old. I have been active in the creative industries, including fashion and arts and crafts, for about three years after graduating with a degree in Fashion Design in the UK. Since I came back to Vietnam, my positions have varied from being Design and Production Assistant, to Visual Merchandise Supervisor and currently Collection Merchandiser. I have grown from being purely interested in creating clothes to searching for a balance between creative practice and strategical thinking.
Why did you choose the MSc Fashion Analytics and Forecasting course at LCF?
AMINAT: I chose to study the MSc Fashion Analytics and Forecasting course as I felt that it was a great way for me to refine my technical and research skills in the context of fashion business. I always had an interest in fashion; I enjoy researching into trends and learning about what drives consumer behaviour in fashion. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find my feet in the industry given my background, but this course happened to offer everything I needed to prepare myself and somewhat pivot. I had an understanding that the field of data science/analytics was growing, alongside there being a demand for professionals in the fashion industry to make sense of big data. As a result, I felt that the opportunities on the other side of this course would be promising towards preparing for the future of fashion.
BLANCA: I have been deeply interested in fashion since my teens, from both a creative and social perspective, and I got more involved in eco fashion in my professional career while working for ethical brands and retailers. I wanted to expand my knowledge, and when the pandemic came, I explored different pathways and talked with many students from different schools and programs. I chose this program because it has a holistic approach to the industry and blends both creative (trends forecasting), social (supply chain management) and analytical (software) angles, so to me it’s the optimal mix. Learning new software has been the most challenging part so far as it is the one I am starting from scratch and had no previous experience in.
TRANG: The MSc Fashion Analytics and Forecasting course originally captured my attention as it offers a unique and up-to-date curriculum relating to data analysis within the field of fashion business. When I applied for the course, I had been working at my current job as a Collection Executive for a few months, where data analysis is a crucial part in range planning and defining product strategy. For that reason, I wanted to get trained further with not only overall business knowledge, but also specific analytics tools to develop my skillsets.
How have you found the experience of studying online entirely?
AMINAT: Studying online has been an interesting experience for sure. Because I am a very hands-on person, I was a bit sceptical about the course being online. But I quickly found that learning online presented many benefits, such as flexible learning methods and being able to make use of online tools and resources.
BLANCA: I appreciate it as it feels freer and more flexible. Despite living outside of London, it allows me to access this education. The downside may be that it can sometimes feel more impersonal than being in a physical classroom, and participation drops.
TRANG: The fully remote experience has not been easy with all resources and interaction being online. At the beginning of the course, I took some time to familiarise myself with the study contents, from pre-records and pre-seminar activities to follow-up assignments. However, after a while, I have gotten more organised with the weekly tasks and made use of different platforms to keep track of my progress. Furthermore, the online experience also encouraged me to participate more eagerly during the live sessions to connect with my tutors and course mates.
What do you think are the benefits of this mode of study?
AMINAT: The best part of the online experience is the fact that it allows me to connect and exchange ideas with my peers who may be studying in different parts of the world. The different perspectives that we all carry helps us to apply the topics that we explore in class, in a real-life context, and learn about how different markets contrast against others.
BLANCA: Primarily, the work life and study balance. I am glad I can still work and make money while studying the course. And second of all is the freedom to live wherever is more suitable for me at the moment.
TRANG: The online status of the course has provided me with the chance to continue working full time. I have been applying certain learnings from some units to aspects within my work, therefore, found it easier to turn theories into practical insights. Apart from that, thanks to the Moodle pages that keep record of the study contents, I can also go back to review the knowledge I have learnt when doing final assignments. It has been particularly helpful for self-study, which is important when balancing between course work and professional work.
What have been the highlights of the course?
BLANCA: People – teachers and classmates make the time and money invested worth it. I am learning so much from their experience. Their way of teaching challenges the classroom and brings real life cases, making it extremely valuable. It is also great that we all come from different backgrounds and live in different places in the world, as it’s very enriching from both an academic and personal perspective.
Methodology – having weekly tasks and content to work through makes you connect to the course and take in knowledge gradually.
Resources – access to an amazing library full of books, databases, and reports that help me expand and explore my knowledge. Also, the Fashion Talks with very inspiring guests in the industry.
TRANG: A great highlight of this course is probably the interaction with my course mates. We have a WhatsApp group where we all keep in contact with each other, but I have also messaged some of my course mates privately. I find that both the large group and the one-to-one chats help me feel more connected, even though we cannot meet each other in real life. Recently, our course reps even held a social get-together for us to play ‘2 truths and 1 lie’ to get to know each other further. I thoroughly enjoyed that private gathering, where we could chit chat together and be more casual in our interaction.
What are you working on at the moment?
AMINAT: I am currently learning about quantitative research methods that will help with scoping my final research paper. I am also learning about data driven product innovation which has helped me think critically about the different components to consider when innovating and creating a product. I have spent a lot of time learning how to run forecasts using different statistical models in R Studio, and also how to run hypothesis tests using SPSS. I can say that I have gained a lot of confidence in how to run my own research and accurate statistical tests.
Outside of my studies, I am also developing a unisex contemporary fashion brand (KANDE COLLECTION), which is inspired by cultural designs. The course has created a nice synergy between gaining the technical and strategic skills, as well as the business acumen that will help me both in my personal projects and corporate career development.
BLANCA: I am doing a lot at the moment. Firstly, I am going through Block Two again to better understand everything before the Easter break ends, catching up with all remaining reading, organizing my summative assessments and starting to think on my master thesis, which I am still quite unclear of what it is going to be about.
TRANG: I am now having my spring break, which means I have been more focused on the deadlines of my full-time job. I have been working with manufacturers and finalizing the production steps for a collaboration collection of fashion accessories. It is an important milestone for me as I have been the project leader for this collaboration for the past year. Besides that, I also have a lot of reading and research to work on for all the units of the second block. There is a lot of to catch up on, but hopefully within the next couple of weeks I can gather enough to build up the drafts for my written assignments.
What are your plans for the future?
AMINAT: Upon completing my course, I would love to land a position working as a data analyst for a luxury fashion house. I also hope to continue building my own unisex fashion brand using the skills and knowledge that I have obtained.
BLANCA: I expect a career shift, exiting the digital marketing arena and entering the industry’s core as a product planner, trend forecaster or sustainability project manager. I am still not sure whether I want to be a full time employee in a fashion brand or a contractor working for a list of clients, but I want to be serving and helping the industry to become cleaner and more conscious.
TRANG: I am not entirely sure about my future to be honest. I do have the option to continue with my current job and develop my career as a Collection Merchandiser. Still, I have this yearning to pursue another course, where I can solely concentrate on my study and explore research projects without the burden of working full-time. Both options would bring me great opportunities to learn and grow. Therefore, I will take my time from now until I finish this course to make my decision.
What advice would you have for students thinking about taking this course?
AMINAT: I would advise anyone considering this course to have a passion and/or understanding of how data is changing the fashion industry. This really helps to have a holistic understanding of everything we cover in our course and how each of the units complement one and other. It's also useful to have this approach to ensure that you can demonstrate a genuine interest for what you will study. I would also say that it would be good to keep a note of what skills you want to develop and the type of roles that you want to secure upon completing your course. Having regular check ins to see how you have developed your skills along the way is useful to ensure that you are getting exactly what you anticipated from the programme. So essentially, be intentional about your choice to study the course, what you want to use it for and where you want it to take you.
BLANCA: Keep your mind open on what you want to do after taking the course and try to absorb as much as you can from everyone you cross paths with, from teachers to other students. Attend university events and social (online) gatherings, connect with people on LinkedIn and try to know what they want to be doing in the future. Maybe those are your future business partners.
For the course, try to stick to the calendar and be up to date with the content, read as much as possible and make use of the resources you find useful for you. Practice, practice and ask questions.
TRANG: My advice for any future student interested in taking this course is to be prepared and do your research on the contents of the course. Since it covers a great range of knowledge within data analytics and forecasting, it is a demanding course. Another thing is to make sure you communicate with your tutors through email, through Teams and especially during all the live sessions. With such a newly built course, for sure there would be confusion along the way, so it is best to ask questions and clear up all your uncertainty.
This year LCF launched 3 new online/low residency courses to our postgraduate portfolio. The courses are taught either online or through a combination of both in-person and online teaching, allowing students access to our academics, high quality teaching and fellow students, with the added benefit of greater flexibility in where and how they study.