FDCI reaffirms its collaboration with Pearl Academy to empower the fashion professionals of the future
The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and Pearl Academy have been collaborating since 2016 to nurture the fashion professionals of the future. With this industry-academia partnership now entering its fifth year, Sunil Sethi, Chairman, FDCI, and Sharad Mehra, President, Creative Arts Education Society, Pearl Academy, talk about how this collaboration empowers and molds the future of young fashion professionals and, in turn, the future of fashion.
Tell us more about this partnership and what do students stand to gain?
Sharad: FDCI is the mecca for everyone in the fashion industry. Year after year, our students get up-close and personal access to the vast knowledge and experience of fashion veterans of the FDCI. Through masterclasses, live industry projects, internships and fashion forecasting immersions, mentors from FDCI and Mr Sethi, of course, have encouraged Pearl Academy students to find their unique creative voices and explore their aspirations.
Every year, the most exciting moment for the graduating students of Pearl Academy is when they get to showcase their collections at the India Fashion Week along with senior designers. There is nothing more lucrative for our students than this and fashion students from design, or styling or communication along with the faculty members outdo themselves every year!
With the renewed collaboration this year, both the organisations have reaffirmed their commitment towards young creative minds and the future of the industry. Leading FDCI designers support our course development and delivery. We are now evaluating online courses and digital aspects of fashion for the future. For the larger design canvas, we understand that it must merge seamlessly with technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality etc. and Pearl Academy is at the forefront of tech inspired design education.
How about Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week 2020? What did Pearl Academy students have up their sleeves for this edition?
Sunil: Scheduled between October 14 and18, India Fashion Week was India’s first ‘phygital’ fashion week. As an acknowledgement of the work that the Pearl Academy students did during the lockdown, we invited them to showcase an ‘Industrial Collection’ at the India Fashion Week. This collection is a combination of the works of students across campuses to reboot fashion in their style. IFW was an amazing experience and instead of 400 to 500 people viewing each show, the ‘phygital format’ allowed thousands of enthusiasts from India and around the world watch it on their screens.
Organisations from the industry and the education sector have long worked in silos and collaborations like this one are a welcome change. As the Chairman of the fashion industry’s apex body, what do you think are the missing links when it comes to developing the workforce?
Sunil: Education institutes have the responsibility to train and hone Gen Z. They are digital natives and hence, the pedagogy must evolve. Today, fashion is as much about creativity as it is about technology and its application. It has the power to give sustainability a major push and make it so ‘cool’ that it sees adoption at a large scale. It can be a strong propagator of culture, heritage, and art in such a way that it enriches the lives of creative geniuses working at the grassroots level. I think we need a workforce that is technologically advanced but rooted in values. Education institutes alone can’t achieve this. It requires coming together of organizations from multiple disciplines.
As an education organisation, how much of what Sunil spoke about have you been able to achieve so far?
Sharad: It is thrilling to be teaching Gen Z because it requires us to be innovative and disruptive, not just in terms of how advanced or relevant our curriculums are, but also how we teach and engage with them. Few things that I want to highlight are:
•Home studio kits: It pained us when our students could not access labs and studios on campuses for their practical sessions due to the lockdown. We developed and sent over 2,300 customized kits so that they could set up mini-studios in their homes. These kits vary as per the program and curriculum requirements to include Wacom tablets, sewing machines, fashion mannequins/ mini-dress forms, drafting boards, hand-knitting devices, block-printing kits, Arduino kits, software stacks, sketching kits and softwares. We are delighted to see their creations developed in their home studios and glad that their creativity is not stagnating.
•Immersive online learning: Besides virtual classes and assessments, we created knowledge-development modules that were taught on social platforms like Instagram. The students loved it. We partnered with an international platform for designers so that our students can showcase their work to the global fraternity. We also set up more than 150 virtual jury boards that shared an industry perspective on their projects and mentored them on a regular basis.