Friday, November 21, 2008

(stitch it where it's needed)

Too many students are coming out of fashion design courses in universities and art colleges lacking practical skills.

These past few weeks, whenever I go for interviews and show my portfolio, I would invariably ask for a design position and be offered a pattern-cutting/production one. They both have their own advantages: designing lets one look at how supposedly great designers conduct their trades (if you're lucky enough not to be told to bring the dog for a run); pattern-cutting lets one learn technical know-how that makes garments work.

The reason why I ask for a design position is because I would like to practise more of the design skills I learnt at uni. The reason why I prefer not to do a production position is because it brings back jibes about tukang jahit and horror stories about how internships are little more than a foiled-up sweatshop labour source. When I worked over summer, the moment I sat on a sewing machine and produce a dress mock-up needed for fitting the following afternoon, others in the studio made jokes about how there was "a new sewing technician". I relished in giving them a nice surprise, but their comments allude to how ignorant fashion design students can be when it comes giving [physical] birth to their ideas.

The squabbles between CSM and LCF highlight what seems to be a gap in current fashion design education. LCF students are often accused of lacking artistic integrity, wheres CSM students are jibed for being impractical and not knowing how to make what they design. Now, these accusations are stereotypical and I know quite a few people who prove otherwise, but the point is... there is a gap between what is to be made and how it is to be made.

When it comes to my skills, I'm much more in 'home territory' with pattern-cutting and garment making up. I can draw and develop my drawings using digital manipulation softwares. I do have my 'pet hates' - technical specs, trueing patterns - but I do my best to do them. I take extra classes to improve my garment-making skills, and I will start taking design classes to hone my design development skills.

That's the end of it, for now.
The frequency of post should alarm you that I'm under pressure to produce technical drawings and illustrations pronto, so I'll scoot off...

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