Tuesday, 10 May 2016


Hello there! I finished my first year at university last week which is not only crazy in terms of how fast the time has gone, but also left me itching to share my experience of studying fashion. I’m planning a couple of other more general university posts sharing my thoughts on leaving home, living in halls and the do’s and don’ts I’ve learnt along the way but I also wanted to do a very specific post focusing on what I study. In case anyone doesn’t follow me on Twitter then you may not know but I have been studying Fashion Communication and Promotion at the University of Huddersfield as a first year student! I’m hoping to make this post a general overview of studying a creative course related to fashion however in some aspects it will specifically apply to the university I attend in terms of modules etc as this is the experience I have had! At the end of this post I’m going to share which other universities I looked around or applied to in case you’re considering a similar course and want to have a browse around at open days or online! Apologies in advance for the length of this post but I’m going to be aiming for something that’s as informative as possible; applying and deciding on a course for university can be SO daunting so I hope this is somewhat helpful!

Why did I choose the course?
When deciding on the course you wish to study for 3 years at university, the whole process can be stressful, from ensuring the subject itself is right for you to narrowing down university choices to just 5 options on UCAS. I have always been an avid blog reader, YouTube watcher and all round fashion lover so realising this was a subject I could actually study academically as well as enjoy in my spare time was super exciting! Despite this, I found the process of narrowing down courses quite the challenge. I knew I wanted to work more on the commercial side of fashion rather than design, which is so often what most universities offer. I’m a very creative person but have never been very talented in the way of drawing or textiles and so design was never something I wanted to do. The easiest way to explain the contents of my course is that I’m learning about all the processes that happen to clothing and in the industry after the garments have been designed and produced. In first year we’ve looked at PR, marketing, styling and working with photographers, trend research and fashion writing and journalism. The course is SO varied which was one of the reasons I applied for Huddersfield as my first choice; I’m not entirely sure which part of the fashion industry I want to go into after graduation but I deffo feel like the range of topics I’ve been studying will open up so many options because of knowledge I will acquire in a range of areas! Also this course offers a one-year placement working in the industry which was the real deal breaker! Having experience in the fashion world is SO vital so this was the main reason I chose Hudds!

My options were fairly limited when it came to actually narrowing down courses I was able to apply for; I didn't want to complete an art foundation year which is what SO many courses of this type require, even if there is no aspect of design or textiles! This was a really frustrating part of UCAS application as I was limited to the 4 or 5 universities linked at the end of this post. I found I couldn't be fussy with location, accommodation or what the town had to offer in terms of shops or pretty instagramable brunch locations (essential). Perhaps why I haven't be quite so happy is because of not feeling like my qualifications and needs of a university course met any of the options available. I desperately wanted to do a year in industry, not be too far from home and in a place I felt comfortable AND not do an art foundation. I might have made things hard for myself but what I'm trying to say is you probably need to be aware that compromise is going to be something you most likely have to do when university applying. 

Creating a portfolio:
Someone just asked me on Twitter to add in a little section about my portfolio so here ya go!  At Huddersfield we were just asked to bring along any work we thought was relevant and thought would link to the course/show our interest in it as well as any general creative work. I brought an A3 folder with some final prints of my A level photography work in which my (now) tutor seemed to really like; I think it impressed her that I had a lot of Photoshop experimentation in there including some portraits with flower overlays I had played around as well as general fashion-y images that had gone towards my AS levels. I also made some A3 boards on Photoshop with some info on my blog, personal facts and interests and some screenshots of my Instagram/photographs from my blog. I think this was the main thing she really liked because I had obviously spent a lot of time collecting information and putting it all together in a pretty way and she could see I was enthusiastic about studying there. 

I know a lot of fashion courses require work from an art foundation/art A level which I didn't have but if you study photography or graphic design work from those subjects would definitely be appropriate. We only spent about 5 minutes going over my work and the rest of the interview was questions and a general chat so if you're applying for a similar course I wouldn't stress as much about a portfolio like you might do for very creative subjects like art!

The modules involved:
As I said I’m hoping to make this post as general as possible when discussing studying fashion but of course modules will vary between universities! These are the modules I have been studying at Huddersfield and in some cases probably will overlap with other courses but be aware a lot of the uni’s I looked at differ in terms of content! I studied 5 modules during my first year:
-Fashion promotion (+ digital promotion)
-Fashion writing
-Fashion industry
-Fashion marketing
-Fashion history and contemporary context

I’m going to go a little into some of the assignments involved in each module so you can get a more specific and detailed idea of what each involves; I think my favourites have been fashion promotion and fashion writing!

-Fashion promotion: This module also has a digital aspect which I’ve loved (I’m fully obsessed with InDesign, such fun) as well as the traditional PR section. In digital promotion we’ve worked on developing our own window display design using Google Sketch Up as part of a live brief with Kolocraft and New Look and have also put together a range of design and research boards as part of this, learning about visual merchandising and promotion. As part of the same collaboration we created, we were tasked with creating an event plan for the launch of our created collaboration discussing the concept behind it, an event timeline and detailed media list of relevant journalists/press that are relevant for the event! As part of this I used InDesign to create a press pack and invitation to house the information and present it in a way that was in line with the collaboration theme and ‘look’ of the brand.

In first term we created a promotional booklet for an up-and-coming new designer and were taught about using InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. In general, I felt the sessions we had on the programmes were fairly short and so I’ve been spending a lot of time this term working things out for myself, googling tutorials and overall experimenting. It’s so helpful if you already have experience with Adobe but of course not essential.

Fashion writing: I’ve absolutely loved this module! In first term we wrote an essay titled “How has the fashion media changed in the last decade and how is it continuing to change? What affect do these changes have on the power of the fashion media?” which I loved researching and writing and ended up getting 90/100! I ran a poll on Twitter with some questions for primary research and had so much positive feedback about my questions and how interesting the topic was so it was a really great first assignment for university! This term we worked on a collection of fashion writing examples in which we had to research a variety of publications and work on writing pieces for each that were appropriate for the audience of the magazine and the style they are written in. The types of pieces we had to write included a blog post, a men’s and women’s feature article, newspaper piece, runway review and an editor’s letter! I really loved this assignment because we had the freedom to put together the pieces on InDesign and design them in the way that they would appear should they be in the magazine irl. Just for reference in case this is of interest to anyone, the essay word count was 1500 and the writing examples totalled to 2500.

Fashion industry: This has been the most varied module for sure and was probably the most challenging. We have worked on compiling fabric files with swatches of about 50 fabrics plus detailed descriptions of each. We also had a project collaborating with first year photography students on a styling photoshoot in which we had to source models, clothing, props and create a concept for the shoot as well as mood and styling boards. We have had to create and regularly add to critical journals which document ‘A year in Fashion’ through newspapers, online content, exhibition visits we had been to and our own independent work. Last week we presented a topic from our critical journals to the rest of the course which wasn’t really my favourite assignment as im not the best with public speaking; I spoke on fashion and social change and am crossing my fingers it went okay! We also had a presentation during term 1 after we had tracked a specific trend through consumer press, trend intelligence specialists and trade publications which was equally as nerve wracking but turned out well in the end!

Fashion marketing: Despite being very apprehensive about this module having never studied marketing before, I have really enjoyed the work for it! We began the module in term 2 and were briefed on a group assignment in which we had to create our own brand in competition to Topshop and create a business plan/report for it. We had 6 weeks of lectures before being left to write the report in groups discussing its marketing mix, store location and reasoning, store layout, the type of product we would sell, prices, quality and parts of our brand that would make us stand out in comparison to competitors. This assignment was a total of 3000 words and I overall found writing collaboratively and creating a brand with extensive rationale and reasoning behind decision making really enjoyable!

Fashion history and contemporary context: The final module I have studied was joined by students from all other fashion courses at the university including fashion design and marketing and fashion costume making for a really varied range of people. Our first assignment involved listening to a different speaker and topic each week and uploading blog posts with our thoughts, own research and images over 5/6 weeks which I enjoyed as the work was spaced out weekly and a blog was a really fun way to document our ideas. We have also written an essay for this module which was a choice of 6 questions and finally put together a group project around the concept or adornment and body modification, asking if the body can be used as a language. Our group presented ours as a magazine which was again really fun in terms of layout and digital presentation!

Negatives or aspects of the course I haven’t enjoyed:
-As with any course, group work can always be stressful when it comes to organsing different roles and getting a fair contribution from each member. This is definitely something I have struggled with, particularly when working with individuals from other fashion courses as we have different timetables, deadlines and assignments. Although it’s nice to mix with others and get a different fashion perspective, I found it really challenging to work with people who weren’t committed or organised. This isn’t really specific to my course but definitely something to be aware of if you’re a perfectionist like me; it’s been challenging working with others who care a lot less about grades and the outcome of work. In some ways it’s been helpful in me emerging as a ‘leader’ of the group and trying to organise work but in general it was stressful and something I hope will be different in second year!

-I have also found when studying fashion that my university tutors did make some assumptions about our knowledge of certain topics or general skills, particularly when it came to digital work. Having never studied fashion academically I found it tricky being thrown in at the deep end with an expectation of knowing how to complete a range of tasks, but again, it has been useful in developing my independence and learning to push myself.

Despite the challenges of first year, I’ve found studying Fashion Communication and Promotion overall REALLY enjoyable! I’ve struggled a lot with university life in general however that has mainly been linked to moving away/making friends etc which I’m thinking of doing another post on! My course has been one stable aspect of my life since moving away and even though ive not overly enjoyed first year, I am really looking forward to getting my grades back and starting the challenges of fashion in second year. If you have any other questions about my course etc then feel free to tweet me @charl0ttesweb or email me on charlotterollin8@gmail.com!

Other universities I looked at:
Nottingham Trent
Manchester Metropolitan
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