Joyce Dong is a senior at Drexel University, majoring in Fashion Design and minoring in Entrepreneurship & Innovation. She came to London College of Fashion (LCF) for an intensive Study Abroad Footwear program.
"I enjoyed the mix of topics that the lectures were about since it either brought a new or refreshed perspective on things we knew or didn’t know previously. From foot anatomy, parts of trainers, sustainability, to digital fashion and the metaverse."
Why did you choose to become a designer?
Ever since one of my older brothers taught me how to hand-sew in third grade, I’ve always been fascinated with how a simple piece of fabric can be transformed into a beautiful, intricate masterpiece. I started with sewing pillows, to making clothes for my dolls, and now clothes for myself and others. Sewing became my hobby, so when it came to choosing a major for university, I realized design is in my DNA. I thrive on more hands-on and creative activities; it made perfect sense for me to major in fashion design. It’s been an amazing experience building up my technical skills and even adapting my design processes during the pandemic. I want to design so that people can express themselves and challenge the boundaries of what is possible.
How do you like studying abroad?
Studying abroad was an unforgettable experience! I expanded my knowledge on footwear design and construction since there aren’t any footwear courses currently offered at Drexel. With everyone on the trip, we were all living in the same flat and taking the same classes, so I was able to bond with everyone. During the weekend and after class, we would explore more of London. Being in a new city, the diverse food options and the sights were incredible. There was so much to do in what felt like so little time! To name a few, we visited the V&A and the Tower of London, shopped at vintage markets, watched the musical &Juliet, and attended the Bridgerton Ball.
Why did you choose to study with UAL Study Abroad?
I visited London with my family the summer before I started at Drexel and I was really drawn to the city—I knew I wanted to go back again. Having passed one of LCF’s buildings, I knew LCF existed, but then the possibility of studying there popped up when I found out about Drexel’s study abroad program at LCF.
How was the application process, do you have any advice for people who want to apply?
My application process was a unique one. I had originally applied to go in the Summer of 2020, but with COVID-19 and travel restrictions, the program was cancelled and moved to Winer of 2021 and was also cancelled. The program I was able to go on was termed an “Intensive Course Abroad” which meant I studied abroad over my spring break. Both times, the application process was straight-forward. It may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end.
What were your first impressions of London, UAL and LCF?
Visiting London for the second time, but coming with fellow classmates this time, I had to be more independent—specifically with navigating through the city, but it was easy to do. Using the tube was straightforward—though I would always double-check if I’m going Westbound/Eastbound or Northbound/Southbound. The architecture was stunning and the weather was unexpectedly sunny (no London rain!).
The study abroad team and all the professors at the London College of Fashion were extremely welcoming, thoughtful, and knowledgeable in their specific field. I felt cared for by everyone and soaked in so much information and inspiration in the lectures, workshops, and demonstrations.
What did you most enjoy about your classes?
I enjoyed the mix of topics that the lectures were about since they either brought a new or refreshed perspective on things we knew or didn’t know previously. From foot anatomy, parts of trainers, sustainability, to digital fashion and the metaverse. On the second day, we were able to see and go through the process of how a shoe upper is formed. As a visual learner, the demonstration reiterated and enhanced what I had learned the day before about shoe construction.
What’s the best moment for you during this visit?
Honestly, every waking moment in and out of class was amazing. The pandemic taught me to enjoy each moment and in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t have international data for my phone, so I could be present with those around me and take in the sights. Every day was jam-packed with adventure, I made a TikTok/Reels per day to showcase all the many happenings.
Just to nerd out a little bit because I’m using silver reflective fabric for my senior fashion collection, one of the *many* memorable moments of my visit was seeing reflective fabric swatches at LCF’s library’s Materials Collection. Then in stores, I saw reflective heeled boots and pants!
Tell us something about the project you made in London
One of my favourite projects was when all of us deconstructed shoes since 1.) I’ve never done that before and 2.) it was super cool seeing the different pieces that make up a shoe. From there, the professor put all our deconstructed shoe pieces in a bag and then redistributed different pieces back to us to reconstruct a new shoe design on a shoe last. At first, my brain hit a creative block and wanted to make practical designs, but once I overcame that block, I had fun coming up with more avant-garde concepts. Who knows if someone could actually walk in them, but the purpose of this project was to get ideas down.
How do you find the situation with Covid?
With previous cancellations of this trip, I was more comfortable travelling this time around. As the first international trip in a few years, it was exciting, but I also wanted to be cautious. Masking at LCF became optional the week before my study abroad program, so whether I was wearing a mask or not, I felt comfortable and respected (and I returned the respect to others whether they chose to wear a mask or not).
How do you think studying with us help you?
Though I had an appreciation for footwear, I didn’t have any footwear design or construction experience before this trip. Studying footwear in London, it opened up doors of possibilities with where I could take my career. Learning about digital fashion and the metaverse, those skills can be applied to apparel design and continue to be a game changer in advancing the fashion industry.