A Creator, Advisor, Consultant and Educationist she has been acing it all for more than 50 years. Multi Award winner Ms. Raju Bhatia shares her expertise about fashion education in India. This interview will help you to understand better about the academic side of this glamorous industry.
You being the veteran in the industry we would love to hear about the changing decades of fashion Education from you.
Fashion Education undoubtedly the most popular career choice of the young generation, fails to meet the evolving demands of the Industry. The Industry has made a mark for itself In the Global Markets, whilst tha Academicians and Policy Makers are still focussed on subjects like Basic Tailoring and study of ( extinct ) machine parts and operating a boutique from the four walls of one’s home or garage. 100’s of Institutes / Coaching Classes sprouting up in the country is a clear sign that Fashion Education is a commercial venture for most. Trainers need Upgradation regularly. Institutes need Professionals to mentor students. Industry Interaction and Involvement in Fashion Education is the need of the day.
People have this perception about the fashion industry that it’s all about creativity and glamor, some students only aspire to become a red carpet/avant-garde designer and they often forget the practicality of the industry. What is your take on this?
Any Design Business is all about Creativity and yes Glamor is part of our Showbiz. It is not wrong to have dreams or aspirations, but the path to fulfill ones dreams and aspirations is very tough.It takes years and years of focussed hard work and Passion, sincerity and dedication. The Trainers are focussed on the 17% Rich and 3% Elite for their target audience and very conveniently forget the 80% Middle Class, Rural India population. In their teachings Students are asked to focus on the Red Carpet Look and this is drilled into them day in and day out. A Successful Designer is one who can dress up Late St. Mother Teresa and Style Icon Malaika Arora in the same breath.
Sometimes students don’t realize the importance of actively participating in the exhibitions and workshops, they focus only on the academics, what are the cons of this mindset?
It’s what you put in, will be churned out. As simple as that – Institutes fail to give importance to Participation in Seminars, Exhibitions and Workshops because it costs extra funds and therefore Avoid extending these opportunities to the students.
According to you, what are some soft skills that a fashion aspirant should focus on?
Good Communication and good Business Sense, Creativity, Innovation, Sense of Style, Strong Sewing Skills and above all the PASSION, Focus and Competitive Spirit along with being a good Team Player are the Soft Skills required to be a successful Fashion Designer.
Is there any sustainable practice that a fashion institute follows or should follow to teach sustainability and ethical fashion?
There is very poor awareness about Sustainability in almost 90% of the Institutes. A very small %of the Institutes are aware of it and are trying to implement it in their training program. Sustainability Awareness and Implementation is slowly gaining momentum in the Industry and i am sure the Fashion Institutes will lead the way for Ethical Fashion in the coming years.
What role does digital technology play in fashion education? Are the Indian institutes ready for these upgrades?
The Pandemic was an eye opener for all in many ways especially the Design Institutes. The
Transition from Offline to Online was not well accepted by either staff or students. All faculty were not tech – savvy and were facing many challenges as far as space, appropriate equipment and learning aids were concerned. Lack of practical guidance and personal interaction with students will always be a drawback in Creative Design oriented subjects when it comes to Virtual Learning, Digital Clothing, Digital Couture , Crypto Fashion, E Commerce, Digital Marketing is the new Mantra . The Academicians have to Upgrade themselves, Adapt and Innovate and rise above the challenges to be able to impart quality education.
What are the opportunities that technology will brings for us, as well as the limitations?
‘ BE THE CHANGE ‘ is my mantra and keep up with the changing trends. There was tremendous opposition to the entry of Computers many decades back – with the fear that many people will be jobless. Today the Digital Industry is leading and theres no looking back. Research, Technology and Innovation can only lead to progress . I dont see any limitations. More Challenges lead to more Innovations and offer more Opportunities.
Many times, people have this thinking that working only for the top designers or a well-known brand will give them success, what is your perspective on that?
Behind every Well Known Brand or Top Designers are many many years of hard work and struggle. To achieve Success all have to start at the ground level – you go up the ladder step by step to reach the top.
The increasing amount of competition often leads to creative burn out. As you have been working in the creative industry for decades, how do you think is the best way to deal with it?
There can never be a Creative Burnout if you are a creative and original mind. There is so much to explore , to research, there can never be a burn out.
What advice would you give to the students to make their best possible career?
“Learning is a Constant Process”. You should have the willingness to Learn, to Adapt, and to Innovate with Passion, Focus, Sincerity and Dedication. Rise above the Challenges – Be the Change
– RAJU BHATIA