Despite growing up on the picturesque hills of Taunus in Germany, Jan-Philipp has always been someone with an international point of view. He says living just 20 minutes outside of the business hub of Frankfurt is the reason he grew up with an ‘act globally, think locally’ point of view. Having known he wanted to be a fashion designer early on, he needed a college that shared that same outlook and is why studying at Central Saint Martins made complete sense to him.
“I knew the college could provide me with the level of experience and knowledge I needed so before I left high school I did a lot of research on how to gain a place at this institution.”
It was only while researching for the right course that Jan-Philipp came across the Fashion Folio course Central Saint Martins offers. “I liked that it had smaller classes compared to Central Saint Martin’s in-house foundation program and thought I would thrive better in a more focused and guided work environment.”
After deciding to spend a year perfecting his drawing and sketching abilities - skills he admits were non-existent beforehand - Jan-Philipp applied for the Fashion Folio course and was successfully selected.
He admits naively assuming the course would just teach him how to be a great fashion designer, enough to secure a place on any BA course at Central Saint Martins. But he soon realised that Fashion Folio teaches you so much more than that. “I was so wrong! The entire identity of Fashion Folio is built upon the power of self-discovery through brutally honest critique and the strategic challenge of all conventions you grew up with to help find that niche that no-one but you can fill.”
As a result, Jan-Philipp says he faced some challenges during his time on the course, but is quick to reassure that he’s grateful for those moments because they helped him grow both as a person and as a professional working in fashion. “It’s important to note that any course is just as good as the people teaching it. The tutors [on the Fashion Folio course] addressed not only my skills, but also my character. It was clear to me that to strive in fashion design as a straight male I had to work on both my skill and character.”
After successfully completing the Fashion Folio course, Jan-Philipp continued to study with Central Saint Martins and was offered a place on the BA Fashion Design with Marketing (FDM). “It wasn’t my first choice, but in hindsight it was the best course for me. I was able to experiment with both menswear and womenswear as well as think about actual market applications for my designs. In the other courses they wouldn't teach you that, it's mostly crazy shapes and textures.”
While on the BA course Jan-Philipp continued to push himself and challenge his ideas of fashion, much like the Fashion Folio course did. In his second year, he debuted a 12-piece collection called KONUNDRUM after taking part in a London based fashion design competition to raise awareness for social good.
Having now recently graduated from Central Saint Martins, does Jan-Philipp have any advice for upcoming students thinking about taking the Fashion Folio course as their first foray into studying fashion? “Fashion is not a fairytale; it’s a tough industry and it gets tougher the higher up you go. If you have any illusions that things will be easy, then the Fashion Folio is not the course for you. You will soon become less naïve about fashion and learn a lot faster than others.
“The course requires you to be highly committed 24/7. You need to really want it from the beginning. If this sounds like you then it will set you up very well for whatever your next steps might be.”
Jan-Philipp is now focused on his own next steps and tells us he has a plenty of plans for the future. These include setting up his own studio and challenging how clothes are designed, made and discarded. “The work I submitted for my final project got me shortlisted for a couple of programs and prizes that I hope to receive, and I am currently waiting for the results.”
Given the unprecedented times we all find ourselves in during 2020, Jan-Philipp is still pretty optimistic about the future; “I think Covid-19 has taught the Class of 2020 that adaptability, creativity, resilience and positivity are the key factors needed to go forward in fashion. Whatever happens, after graduating under lockdown amidst a global pandemic, I can only go up from here!”
Discover more student stories by other Fashion Folio students, including Stephanie Uhart who did the Fashion Folio course in 2015.
Are you a budding fashion designer, but not sure where to begin? Read our How to Become a Fashion Designer: Steps to Success article for advice and industry tips to help you stand out. You can also head over to our website to find out how our the Fashion Folio course can help you get your start in the industry.