Central Saint Martins is currently the best place in the world to study undergraduate Fashion. Image credit: University of the Arts London/wikipedia
As London fashion week is upon us, and many of you will be looking to apply to uni this year, here is a brief look at the UK's top universities to study fashion, which we do very well in. For more information on the best fashion universities in the UK and across the world, please see UK Fashion Schools Dominating the World.
Central Saint Martins
Part of the University of the Arts, London, Central Saint Martins (CSM) has educated the likes of Stella McCartney, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton, Christopher Kane, Paul Smith, Jenny Packham, Alice Temperley, Mary Katrantzou and Matthew Williamson. It ranked number 1 in the Global Fashion School Rankings (2015). There are five pathways to choose from within Fashion BA- Menswear, Womanswear, Print, Marketing and Knitwear - and students can also benefit from a Diploma of Professional Studies via a work placement.
It’s a great place to be yourself, and grow and develop as an individual and have something to say. And underpinning this anti-establishment, it the ability to learn about fashion, from pattern cutting to how clothes hang. However, it’s not for everyone; CSM requires a great deal of personal discipline, and for some people the hands-off approach to teaching just isn’t for them.
Fashion at CSM is also really competitive to get into so don’t dare think of applying without a solid application and portfolio. They look for innovation, creativity and experimentation with both ideas and media, and the ability to develop your projects and reflect back on the work you’ve created. Your work doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect, but you need to have a story and reasons behind your decisions, for example in terms of colour or fabrics. They ask for either a Foundation Degree or a BTEC in Art & Design, however they do consider other qualifications if the work is good enough (e.g. the IB and A-levels). If you don’t get a place, they might consider you for a Foundation Degree and you can reapply the following year.
Kingston's Fashion BA is one of the few recognised by the Creative Skill set which awards outstanding courses and their contribution to the creative industries. The course is known to have a high employment rate after uni, as well as a high student satisfaction rate, as well as offering a solid foundation in the fashion industry. Kingston also has one of only two Shima machines (an automated knitting machine), the other one residing at Pringle.
Its line-up of illustrious alumni boasts such leading figures as Helen Storey, John Richmond, Simon Kneen and editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar US Glenda Bailey. More recent graduates include Joshua Kane, whose bespoke tailoring is prized by a stream of celebrity clients, and Sophie Hulme, whose eponymous handbag and accessories are sold in some 250 shops across 30 countries worldwide, including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in London. Other rising stars include Josh Read, who was snapped up for an internship at Dior's Paris headquarters after being named a winner of the LVMH Graduate Prize in 2015.
The University also gives you the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of change, and you can use your new-found knowledge to study and work abroad.
For all of you a bit worried about studying in central London, Kingston benefits from being a 30-minute train journey from town. This means that you have the advantage of a smaller town community, with its own amenities and social scene, whilst you can easily travel to London to get that much-needed creative fix.
Kingston prefer a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design when applying for the course, but you could also have studied A-levels, BTECs, IB etc. They also require you to submit a portfolio of work and attend an interview.
University of Westminster
Westminster’s course has an outstanding reputation for developing highly talented and original fashion graduates. They specialise in enabling you to become an individual and creative designer, with an emphasis on developing your personal design philosophy. Amongst this research-intensive environment, you work alongside students of film, photography, music, art and design, and journalism – a unique hothouse of creative opportunity.
Course graduates include London Fashion Week designers Claire Barrow, Roberta Einer, Liam Hodges and Ashley Williams; Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Ofﬁcer of Burberry; Michael Herz, Artistic Director of Diane von Furstenberg; Katie Hillier, Creative Director of Marc by Marc Jacobs; Jutta Kraus, Creative Director of Bernhard Willhelm; and Stuart Vevers, Creative Director of Coach.
As part of your course Westminster offers elective modules to widen your experience at university and to gain skills and knowledge that will help make you more employable.
They require either BTECs at Level 3 or a foundation in Art & Design for entry, and don’t accept A-levels.
London College of Fashion
Fashion at the London College of Fashion focuses on producing graduates who are encouraged to make an innovative and visionary contribution to product development within the fashion industry. There are a number of Fashion Design courses at undergraduate level, including Bespoke Tailoring, Corawainers Fashion Bags and Accessories, Fashion Contour and Fashion Sportswear. The courses benefit from being taught in Shoreditch, on the edge of the City of London, an area rich in creative studios, fashion PR companies, magazine head offices, specialist markets, museums, art galleries and hip restaurants, bars and clubs.
Entry is highly competitive and require A-levels or equivalent with the preferred subjects of English, Maths, Art, Design, Textiles and Science. You’ll also require a portfolio, and be invited to attend a portfolio review, demonstrating that you have a current awareness of fashion for product in terms of material developments, new designers and fashion trends; the potential to achieve a high standard of technical manufacture; an ability to record and develop design ideas through the vehicle of drawing; and the ability to work independently to develop your own knowledge and skills acquired on the course.
University of Westminster at night. Image credit: Sabotage1/Wikipedia
Nottingham Trent University
With more than 40 years' expertise and excellent links with industry, NTU’s Fashion Design BA has a reputation for producing creative and industry-ready graduates. The award-winning course is nationally and internationally recognised for its students' success in competition work, and the quality of creative graduates it produces, for example Aimee Dunn (Menswear Award) and Oli Royce (Fashion Innovation Award) both won awards at Graduate Fashion Week 2014.
Students are able to take electives in their second year, in areas such as journalism or visual merchandising, and go on overseas trips to events like Paris Fashion Week.
Additionally, all final-year students exhibit their work at a catwalk show and product exhibition as part of NTU’s Degree Show in Nottingham, as well as having the opportunity to be selected to showcase their work to industry at Graduate Fashion Week in London, the world's leading event for fashion graduates.
NTU accept A-levels as well as BTECs and the Art and Design Foundation Diploma. They also require a portfolio on application.
University of the Creative Arts, Epsom
The Fashion course at UCA, Epsom offers a friendly, dynamic and creative community of students able to collaborate with like-minded creative individuals studying Fashion, Fashion Promotion, Fashion Journalism, and Fashion Management and Marketing.
Student at UCA, Epsom enables students to be inquisitive and experimental within their design thinking and within their practical work. They are encouraged to take risks and engage in a wide range of creative projects that support the development of their professional skills and innovative design practice for the global market place.
Teaching at UCA, Epsom is focused on the development of versatile and adaptable fashion designers who are equipped with the essential skills and knowhow to be able to respond to both conceptual and commercial briefs, underpinned by a sound knowledge of the fashion industry and a critical understanding of the social, cultural, economic, sustainable and environmental factors influencing their professional environment.
Royal College of Art
The Royal College of Art (RCA) only offers postgraduate courses in Fashion (either Menswear or Womenswear) but it deserves more than an honourable mention as it is currently the best place in the world to study Fashion. Alumni include Christopher Bailey, Erdem Moralioglu and Zandra Rhodes. Students are encouraged to develop an individual design identity through the translation of their personal research into design, and are asked to create a body of thinking open to debate, presentation and integration. This gives each student the opportunity to develop their individual creativity by concentrating on their own chosen subjects of research and development leading to a broad spectrum of design ideas and thinking in an open and free way.
Students also benefit from dedicated technical workshops relevant to the specialisms a student has selected, such as drawing classes and sounds seminars, whilst Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) offers an intellectual framework within which students can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
Candidates for the MA are assessed on their existing qualities as demonstrated in their work and in their interview, as well as on their potential to benefit from the programme. The assessment considers: creativity, imagination and innovation evident in the work; ability to articulate the intentions of the work; intellectual engagement in relevant areas; and appropriate technical skills. Students need to be imaginative, self-motivated, determined, passionate about their discipline, technically curious and professionally orientated, and understand that their commitment to the course is a significant investment in their future.