How are university courses adapting to the ‘new’ fashion retail?

Dr Bruce Carnie authors an article for the fashion magazine, Drapers, explaining how universities are adapting their course content and programmes to meet the evolving demand of fashion retail.

Dr Bruce Carnie, course leader of the online MA International Fashion Marketing and Design Management at the University of Leeds, explains how university courses are adapting to the changing demands of fashion retail.

Accelerated by the global pandemic, the fashion retail industry has experienced notable change over the last 10 to 15 years. Among many things, there has been a strong decline in physical retail spaces and a complete transformation in consumer demand.

From reinventing the fashion value chain and heavily investing in e-commerce to advertising through influencer marketing and delivering by drones, brands are continuing to shift their focus and resource. And as the market evolves to a more digital-centric landscape, there is an increasing need for employees with the right skills to tackle these challenges head on.

Within academia, the pressure is on for universities and design schools to tailor their courses and ensure that fashion brands have the talent they need to bridge the skills gap. Here are three ways fashion management courses are being adapted:

Tailoring course content

Empathy and understanding of the end user are so important in the industry, so from the get-go, elements like sustainability and customer-centricity are woven into all aspects of university fashion courses.

For postgraduate courses in particular, universities are also adapting the format of classes to accommodate the requirements of their students, as fashion professionals desire more interactivity and flexibility. The new International Fashion and Design Management MA course at the University of Leeds for example, is taught fully online and tailored around the pace of fashion managers' busy lifestyles. This is part of a movement towards bite-size sessions that learners can dip in and out of when they are available.

Leveraging student demand

There is an increasing demand, particularly from gen Z, for fashion Masters that can be completed in their own time, and from older generations who have been working for several years and want to switch careers to something they are more passionate about.

These individuals are keen to start their own business or lead an existing fashion retail brand or marketing consultancy, often citing a desire to improve fashion sustainability as a key motivation.

Developing specialist skills

As roles evolve and new careers in fashion retail develop, the industry requires specialist skills in a range of areas; something that universities consider in their course content.

Read the full article on Drapers website.