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Gone are the days when a career in fashion or a non-engineering/non-medical career meant frivolity and superficiality. Fashion is no longer just polka dots and purple pouts. Fashion as an academic discipline and as an industry has expanded its scope to ‘Fashion and Lifestyle’. A fashion communication degree is the next buzz phrase in the academia of Fashion.
Fashion Communication includes creating and facilitating communication for the fashion & lifestyle industry - verbal, written or audiovisual. It is a specialized domain of fashion studies that helps students in learning communication knowledge and skills relevant to the industry.
Art is generally thought of as a purely creative process and an artist is stereotyped as being absorbed in his creation in a corner far removed from the vagaries of the real-world. This is 2021. Art meets the real world. The human is a social animal and if they cannot communicate their ideas or creations to the larger society they live in then these ideas are bound to disappear in the sands of time.
Basically, Fashion communication is the act of a brand or designer showcasing to its customer base its ideas, identity and products.
To understand what fashion communicators do, we need to first understand what designers basically do. In simple words, designers or fashion communicators solve problems or better the existing situation. I will walk you through these problems and the solution for each problem that the fashion communicators dig into.
These solutions (or types of fashion communication) translate into different career options.
Fashion Communication graduates help brands communicate their products and identity and realize their strategy.
Fashion Communication courses focus on Fashion Context(that means, teaching Visual communication and brand promotion through the lens of Fashion and Lifestyle Industry) and Creative Collaboration between professionals, faculty and peers from different disciplines (Space Design, Graphic Design) allowing students to learn ‘from’ and ‘with’ each other
As a student of fashion communication, you will learn to speak the language of fashion using audio, video, and other sensory mechanisms. The graduates of Fashion Communication are qualified to offer effective and financially viable communication solutions for the fashion & lifestyle industry
To understand this, one first needs to understand the scope of problems faced by clients in the Fashion and Lifestyle industry and the different types of solutions available.
Problem 1: The shop is too dull and boring. No one expects to buy something worth wearing from somewhere not even worth visiting.
Solution 1: Fashion Communication graduate as Visual Merchandiser.
Essentially, a visual merchandiser will put their brand’s best foot forward so that the merchandise visually appeals to and attracts the prospective buyer. They want to turn the window shoppers into actual shoppers and ramp up sales. The veritable toolbox of a visual merchandiser consists of elements like colour schemes, lighting, window display, store-facade design (i.e. the first point of visual contact.) A career in fashion communication allows you to use your imagination to creatively combine these elements.
Problem 2: Fashion and Lifestyle shows and exhibitions hosted worldwide are the pulse of the fashion industry. However, it is a challenge to communicate the brand’s or the fashion designer’s message, concept and image to visitors and at the same time meet the limitations imposed by space, time and budget.
Solution 2: Fashion Communication graduate as Exhibition/Event Designer.
They see a brief (themes, ideas or products to be promoted) through from the initial concept to completion, liaise with their clients and collaborate with their design team. The toolbox of an Exhibition Designer consists of computer-generated 2D and 3D visualisations to communicate their initial design sketches, CAD for designing fixtures and portable display stands and optimum and appealing spatial arrangement.
Problem 3: A consumer in New Delhi does not know the latest fashion trends in, say, New York Fashion week.
Solution 3: Fashion Communication graduate as Fashion Editor -Think of the notorious character of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.
A fashion editor provides fashion information from all parts of the world to make the consumer and the industry itself aware of current and emerging trends. A fashion editor also has the overall responsibility of maintaining the quality and accuracy of the written content. They report on what directions they believe are important.
The toolbox of a fashion editor consists of mass media (newspapers, magazines, etc), fashion events and a substantial knowledge of fashion history to properly view the progression of the fashion world to know not just where fashion’s been, but also where it might be going. Similar to Fashion Editor, there is a fashion critic, a fashion columnist or fashion journalist, a fashion blogger. They “solve” the same problem as a Fashion Editor.
Let’s talk about Fashion Journalism in some detail.
Solution 3.1: As opposed to a Fashion Editor a Fashion & Lifestyle Journalist actually researches and writes about the latest fashion trends and styles. Journalists get this information by working with stylists, interviewing fashion designers, and attending fashion shows, photoshoots and events.
Problem 4: It is a big challenge to communicate a brand’s identity to the prospective buyer who faces a multitude of brands to choose from, selling more or less the same product.
Solution 4: Fashion Communication graduate as Fashion Copywriter
A fashion copywriter writes content (text) that is highly dictated and based on brand-specific briefs (themes, ideas or products to be promoted.) Like fashion & lifestyle journalists, they research and write about the latest fashion trends and styles. However, the aim of a Copywriter is to promote whereas the aim of a Journalist is to select and report.
The toolbox of a fashion copywriter consists of pretty much the same tools for effective and crisp writing, together with access to (and know how to find) reliable and relevant information.
Problem 5: According to one study in 2019, 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram alone per day. One can only imagine the number of photos uploaded to the Internet in 2021 every day. How does a fashion house, an aspiring model or a fashion exhibition navigate through this deluge of photos to get themselves seen or promoted?
Solution 5: Fashion Communication graduate as Fashion Photographer- A picture is worth a thousand words
Contrary to the belief that a photographer only puts some filters and other tweaks on digital photos, a fashion photographer also conceptualizes the photo such that it communicates what their client wanted to convey and elicits a desired response from the viewer.
For an aspiring model wanting the “perfect” portfolio, a fashion photographer shows off their best looks while putting together a great variety of looks, in different styles but with an overarching unique theme, showcasing the model’s potential to a prospective employer.
The toolbox of a fashion photographer consists of knowledge of fashion, camera, lens, lighting equipment, background and most importantly to be in sync with their client. Fashion Communication courses teach how to use each tool.
Solution 5.1: Similar to a fashion photographer is a product photographer or a documentarian
Problem 6: What makes the Fashion Industry unique is that unlike other industries, where the same or similar campaign could be run for many years, in the fashion industry due to its ever-changing trends in every season, it requires to continuously create new campaigns every season. The fickle nature of the fashion industry having very short cycles, requires marketers to keep up with the latest trends and continually devise creative ways to advertise their newest products.
Solution 6: Fashion Communication graduate as a Fashion Analyst (Trend Forecaster)
A Fashion Analyst (or a fashion design strategist) gives their clients a heads-up on the current and emerging trends by analyzing consumer behaviour - how culture and current events affect today’s and tomorrow’s fashion. They do market research to delve into the behaviour of fashion consumers to effectively and creatively implement fashion campaigns that resonate with their target audiences (including advice on which designs should be promoted). A fashion analyst must know how individual customers, groups or organizations select, buy, use, and dispose of ideas, goods, and services to satisfy their needs and wants. This forms the basis of any marketing campaign.
The toolbox of a fashion analyst includes knowledge of latest fashion trends, a keen eye for predicting future trends, product life-cycle as well as consumer behaviour.
After getting a Fashion Communication degree, you will be in a better position to handle the responsibilities of a fashion analyst.
Problem 7: Outfits that express a particular mood have the same universally understood basic elements (characteristic of that mood). However, a consumer or an actor wants their outfit to also reflect or communicate their individuality that differentiates him/her from others wearing the same kind of outfit.
Solution 7: Fashion Communication graduate as a Fashion Stylist/Fashion Consultant/Image Consultant.
A fashion stylist (celebrity stylist or a costume stylist) adds individuality to a piece of clothing for their clients. A fashion stylist understands this fine delicate nuance - the outfit should express a universal mood and at the same time be unique to the wearer. Fashion styling or styling for fashion involves selection of clothes and accessories, not only for celebrities, models or public figures but also for published editorial features, print or television advertising campaigns, etc. Basically a fashion stylist advises on the overall look for the image required as per pre-decided theme.
The “toolbox” of a fashion stylist contains knowledge of the latest fashion trends as well as of the personality of the model. They should have a keen eye to create the desired ‘look’.
Problem 8: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The business “custom” of the 21st century is having an online presence. Everybody who is a ‘somebody’ in the business world has an online presence. Without a dedicated team handling a brand’s social media presence, the brand is bound to get obscured in the visual noise of today’s times.
A Social Media Strategist, as the name suggests, is responsible for developing and implementing the fashion brand’s Social Media strategy.
They want to increase the brand’s online presence and improve the marketing of its merchandise across its various social media platforms - with the overall goal of driving up sales.
The Toolbox of a social media strategist consists of marketing tools such as Buffer,
practical knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and a good understanding of social media KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). They have to keep up-to-date on the latest social media trends.
Problem 9: A fashion brand may have many target markets. It becomes a challenge to adapt the brand guideline for different target markets and at the same time maintain brand integrity across all marketing initiatives - so that the brand comes across as being true to itself.
Solution 9: Fashion Communication Graduate as a Brand Manager
A Brand Manager manages not just one kind but a portfolio of products. They perform competitive analysis to make sure that the products and services of their brand stay relevant to current and potential customers. They want the consumer to feel he/she is buying more than just a product. They communicate to the public the values that the brand stands for. A brand manager has a big say on the briefs. Therefore, a copywriter (who actually writes content based on the brief) and a social media strategist (who handles the company’s online presence) work in close collaboration with the company’s brand manager, responsible for the overall brand identity.
Problem 10: Brand loyalty is as elusive as a butterfly. When problems arise for a brand, who creates and leads all emergency communication in an effort to restore the public's trust?
Without a dedicated team that addresses this, even the most loyal customer will cheat on his/her favourite brand.
Solution 10: Fashion Communication Graduate as a PR Manager
A PR manager is responsible for planning and directing effective communication and media (print and broadcast) relations programs that will maintain or enhance the public image of their brand. They craft the messages (including speeches) delivered by their clients (brand representatives) They also organize functions such as conventions to keep the brand in contact with the public and press.
Once the brand identity is established (i.e., the role of a brand manager), the brand needs to “click” with the prospective consumer - that’s where the PR Manager enters the scene.
To put it simply, in an environment where thousands of fashion brands are competing with one another to vie for the consumer’s attention, fashion communicators not only help the brand stand out but also cut the noise for the bewildered consumer through different types of fashion communication as described above.
Confused between Fashion Design, Interior architecture & Design, Communication Design or Fashion Business Management courses? Read our next blog on this topic.
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