Students from Grad Dip Fashion Management discuss their experience on the course
The Graduate Diploma Fashion Management course is a full time low residency postgraduate course offering an intensive learning experience to equip students with the skills to enter the competitive and complex fashion business environment.
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 on Graduate Diploma Fashion Management – a unique low residency course and the first of its kind at LCF, which sees most students join us at the college for a term, then undertake the remainder of their studies online.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background prior to LCF…
Xinyu (Dov): Before LCF I studied fashion design as my major. I am a positive and optimistic person and I always can find interesting things in my life.
Malika: Prior to LCF, I was a student who was conflicted between a future in Law and Fashion. As my fashion journey began, I learned that it was hard to find opportunities that interested me, so I had to create them for myself. At the age of 20, I started my own jewelry brand. I was in the middle of my criminology degree and my interests had changed entirely. To keep things interesting, I somehow managed to insert topics related to fashion in my academics. In my final year, I ran a fashion club where we did a one-of-a-kind fashion show that showcased a "creative take on repurposing trash" and supported sustainable student designers. After my graduation, I got some hands-on retail experience at Nordstrom, from where I was certain that I wanted to pursue a formal education in Fashion Management.
Judy: I once studied International Relations at the University of Toronto, but before I enrolled in the GDFM course, I decided to do a gap year and gained several internships in the Chinese fashion industry. I was an assistant for the senior editor of Chinese Cosmopolitan Magazine, also a PR for an international luxury jewelry brand. To be honest, I found that most fashion campaigns are meaningless in China, so I still wanted to gain more knowledge of fashion management.
Why did you choose the Graduate Diploma Fashion Management course at LCF?
Xinyu (Dov): I really wanted to be a designer when I was an undergraduate student. However, I became interested in fashion magazines, store displays and fashion buying, so I thought I should learn more about fashion management. I think grad dip courses serve as a bridge between undergraduate and postgraduate, as well as LCF being a well-known university – this was why I chose this course at LCF.
Malika: Since I became interested in Fashion, LCF has been my holy grail. Realizing that LCF offers fashion management was a dream come true for me, as it would introduce me to the things I wanted to learn in a perfect amount of time. Additionally, upon researching this program, I found out that every block touches on a different topic of fashion, which helps explore different types of businesses and their marketing practices.
Judy: My original application was for Strategic Fashion Marketing, but after the study experience of GDFM, I really realised that I did not know how to write an effective study proposal and personal statement. Fortunately, now I am learning and have already made progress.
What was the experience of the term at LCF like and what did you most enjoy about it?
Xinyu (Dov): There are three units in this course and each of them provide plenty of fashion knowledge for us. I really enjoy the fashion walk we did every Friday. It was interesting that our course leader Tim led us to many corners of London - it felt like a Friday Journey.
Malika: When I moved to London, it was my first time being away from a family setting. Navigating the city, learning about British culture, and, most importantly, London's fashion were a few things I was mesmerised by. The first term at LCF was amazing, it's hard to pick one thing, but it was our fashion walks. Walking around the beautiful streets of London, visiting fashion ateliers, and getting insights from professors about brands really changed the way I look at them now. I really liked the concept of the fashion walks, so much so that I still continue to do them after I came back to Toronto.
Judy, you weren’t able to join your classmates in London – what was it like for you studying online entirely?
Judy: At the beginning of the course, especially the first lecture, I felt very upset and disappointed because of technological issues. However, our tutors, especially Tim, are so kind and patient and they always actively provide help for us online students anytime they are available.
What do you think are the benefits of this hybrid mode of study, with some time and the college and the rest online?
Malika: I will be completely honest; at first hybrid model was so hard for me to grasp. I have always been a person who loves attending and learning in-person lectures. However, as I am almost done with my graduate diploma and look back at the hybrid model, I can finally understand the benefits. It taught me how to be resilient, to stay self-motivated, and allowed me to take on more work opportunities.
Judy: Thanks to the online experience, I know how to have effective collaborations and communications with others via online platforms. Also, less connections with classmates mean that I have to communicate more with my professors and tutors. And they always provide me with very skillful and professional advice.
Xinyu (Dov): To be honest, I preferred to study in the college for the whole time. I felt it is uneconomical that there is only a 6 months visa for us to stay in London, and because of the COVID-19, the Chinese entry and exit restrictions were very strict - it was difficult for us to get tickets home. However, I understand the reason is to give us more freedom.
What have been the highlights of the course?
Judy: The ability to conduct group tasks with different people from different backgrounds and also the ability to study and research by yourself.
Xinyu (Dov): There is a lot of team work on the course, which is good training for our team spirit and work. There are also a lot of presentation opportunities for us to get information from each other. I remember I was very nervous when I made my first presentation. I spoke in inexpert English but instead of being laughed at, I saw that everyone nodded in recognition, which meant they understood what I was saying. It was a great encouragement to me!
Malika: One of the best parts of this course is that the practical and theory components are very well balanced. For instance, when we had in-person classes, we would take independent field trips to Oxford and Bond Street to investigate fashion brands and their respective business models, which we later presented in class. Additionally, I learned to appreciate the unknowns and knowns. Working in groups and learning from peers with different backgrounds enriched my learning experience even more.
What are you working on at the moment?
Xinyu (Dov): I am working on the final project. It is complex for me, but Frances and Tim helped me a lot!
Malika: Currently, I am establishing a community on Instagram around the sustainable fashion. As a blogger, I aim to educate and empower my growing community about sustainability with digestible information and how they can incorporate it into their daily lifestyle. This path has also led me to work alongside Fashion Takes Action, a non-profit, as a Youth Ambassador, to increase awareness around sustainability. Finally, as of now, I am working on my final major project for this graduate diploma which will help me establish my business.
Judy: I am doing my final major project (FMP)which has two elements. The first one is a very academic research paper, and another part of FMP is a personal portfolio which you can express any subject you are interested in. The FMP really help me to learn a lot of skills such as how to write an academic study proposal; how to conduct primary research; and also, how to show your ability to find question and solve the question.
What are your plans for the future?
Xinyu (Dov): My plan for the year is to apply to the MA course and I will submit the application in these coming days.
Malika: My next step is to launch a business in the sustainable fashion space. I am grateful for all the tools and resources this graduate diploma has given me to develop a business idea. Now, to take my business to the next step, I am looking to add to my knowledge and skillset by applying to MA Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Lastly, I want to grow my online presence so that I can share and educate more people about sustainable fashion and work with sustainable brands.
Judy: I have already submitted my application for my MA because I want to get the opportunity to further study the fashion industry. I am interested in sustainability, and I hope to have a better understanding of it. I hope I can get a valuable chance to become a part of a fashion company focusing on sustainability.
What advice would you have for students thinking about taking this course?
Xinyu (Dov): Firstly, students need to have good study habits - this course requires students with self-learning ability to read a lot of literature. The second is language ability - teachers and classmates are very willing to help us. Finally, you have to be brave enough to ask questions, which will help solve a lot of problems.
Judy: First of all, I think the most important thing that everyone has to realise is that ‘you know nothing’. Always keep your curiosity and passion to explore the unknown. You also have to do all of the reading because you are unable to learn everything within two hours lectures. All weekly reading materials can provide you with a general academic knowledge related to the course and help you to better understand lectures. Finally, I highly recommend making full use of UAL resources, like libraries, language development centre, and academic support centre etc.
Malika: Please keep an open mind, have fun, don't let overthinking ruin your creativity. Even though it is a very fast and intense paced course, it is very rewarding. This program is really good for someone who wants to be introduced to the management aspect of fashion. It covers major facets, such as different business models and its supply chain. Not to forget, the professors; provide worlds of information and resources for you to maximise your utility in this field of study.
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.