Part of the University of Edinburgh, ranked 17th top university worldwide (2013/2014),Edinburgh College of Art is an exciting school where student artists and designers are taught to value the past as much as the future. At the core of every course, lie ECA’s renowned research capabilities.
Encouraged to research wide, develop creatively and refine meticulously, ECA fashion students are invited to be experimental whilst being attentive to details and professional in all aspect of their work. Over the years, ECA graduating catwalk shows have been constantly demonstrated transparent development processes and quality of finish giving. These qualities give graduate collection life and movement. Whether through the use of innovative materials, detailing or creative cutting, ECA always gives importance to the process. From research right through to the final realisation, students show evident consideration and commitment and stand proud ambassadors for the college.
Fashion & Diversity at Edinburgh College of Art
Fashion training at ECA is both socially responsible and constantly evolving. It produces fashion designers who are highly educated in body diversity and able to design for very different markets of customers and clients. Mal Burkinshaw, ECA’s fashion programme director is passionate about increasing awareness of body diversity in the fashion industry. Together with the academic team, they are constantly seeking new ways to seamlessly embed celebratory values and attitudes into the curriculum.
The department has for example, a strong connection with All Walks beyond the Catwalk, Caryn Franklyn and The Diversity Network (Mal being the director and ECA tutor Coline Henault a member of the network). Diversity competitions run by these organization form integral parts of the course. Students share in the benefits of projects and campaigns that promote this awareness beyond the college, to the industry. This involvement results in an education grounded in the belief that fashion design should not exclude people but on the contrary celebrate all variations of size, height, appearance and personality.
An intense project designing for H&M is another huge success at ECA. Part of the 2nd year Fashion programme (and open to the 3rd and 4th years students), this project run over 4 weeks in conjunction with H&M requires students to design a collection for H&M+.
As self-directed project with a highly commercial edge, it gives students, early in their fashion education, the opportunity to receive highly constructive feedback when pitching their designs to the high-street chain’s experienced and body aware designers.
Students are not only prepared to create a graduate collection over 3 years, but in the 4th but are given a plethora of opportunities to experience and connect with industry first hand. These few examples demonstrate how the ECA fashion course is built in a forward thinking way.
Research and Context at Edinburgh College of Art
The power of research and awareness is always given importance at ECA. This historic Scottish institution produce designers with a unique style of research – this is true for every program not only fashion. This part of the course broadens the students’ perspective on design and gives them the opportunity to study through lectures and tutorials, an extensive range of subjects.
From the Modernist movement to City Hacking and from Visual Narratives to the importance of Drawing – a series of lectures help to inspire studio projects, and teach students to think critically, construct arguments, increase open-mindedness and analyse work and art and design theories. An extremely enjoyable part of the course, they improve of theoretical and historical knowledge and challenges students to become more experimental and technically skilled in their studio practice.
Fashion at Edinburgh College of Art
ECA students are encouraged to exercise their own forward thinking visions of fashion no matter how ambitious. They are given incredible support by their studio tutors to bring them to life. To help realize their concepts and visions, they receive intensive pattern cutting training that equips them with a foundation of techniques, built upon over the four year program.
Edinburgh College of Art offers amazing opportunities to those who go looking for them. Students are encouraged to tap into the vast resource of the college and its far reaching network.
The course also practices interdepartmental collaborations. These may simply be for working on graduate collections (Shauni Douglas / Olivia Creber) but also extend further. The “Architects of the Body” project for example led the student to create highly conceptual garments primarily influenced by volume while simultaneously working on surface design to be applied to the garment. As early as in the second year of the course students are given the opportunity to fight for their ideas as well as seek appropriate agreements and compromises.
The exploration of the duality of fashion throughout the ECA course is second to none. By highlighting the importance of hard work and concepts to the garments or collections produced it embeds in its graduates the idea that fashion is not purely aesthetical. ECA does not restrict the visions of its fashion students as long as they result in designs that demonstrate conviction and professionalism. This may be one of the reason, the students’ work deeply resonate with the audience whether in the incredible detailing, innovative materials, fashion-forward cutting techniques or entirely new takes on what fashion is.
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