Helping RMIT students put theory into practice
At dog&boy, we love a collaboration. We’ve recently teamed up with textile design students from The School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University. I couldn’t be more excited! RMIT is home to some of the most talented aspiring designers in Australia, so it’s a privilege to be part of their journey. In this post, I’ll tell you all about the RMIT industry project, including how dog&boy got involved, plus why I’m so passionate about helping fashion students put theory into practice.
About the RMIT industry projectThe RMIT industry project combines the creative elements of design with the practical side of business. I’m mentoring a group of 16 students in their 2nd year studying textile and design. The aim is not only to make them better designers, but to equip them with the skills to succeed in business.
This is not your usual Uni assignment. It’s a competition. It’s run like a real commercial project, with a monetary prize up for grabs. Students get a brief and a deadline. They also go through the end-to-end process, which requires them to adapt their design based on client feedback. In this case, the client is me!
I first met with the students at the start of July to introduce them to the dog&boy brand and deliver the brief. The brief is to design three 130x130 square scarves, which need to be more than just pretty. The pieces need to reflect the unique aesthetic of dog&boy and tell a story through design. I’ll meet with the students to provide feedback as the project progresses, and I’ll help choose a winner later this month.
How and why dog&boy got involved
I approached RMIT around 18 months ago to start a conversation about this project. Why? Because I believe it’s important. Theory is a vital part of design, but students need to know how to apply it. They also need to know what sells.
In fashion, the ultimate failure or success of a brand depends on viability. A designer could have the most beautiful, original, quality product, but unless it’s commercially viable, beauty won’t translate to sales. I want to teach students how to design fashion that ticks all the boxes – it looks amazing, it’s marketable, and it actually sells. I have experience in this space, and I wanted to share it.
Throughout my own journey from corporate worker to scarf designer, I’ve learnt so much about the fashion and retail markets – through trial, error, and tenacity. When RMIT were asked, ‘What’s the one thing you most want your graduates to have?’, their answer was ‘Real world experience’. I started dog&boy with no formal fashion or business training, and ‘real world experience’ has made it a success. I love sharing my journey with the students and being able to give back to the fashion community. It’s interesting, rewarding, and incredibly fun. I’m having a ball!
Building resilience for business success
I adore the fashion business, but it’s not easy to break into. Only the savviest designers will survive. By providing mentoring and honest advice, I’m hoping my group of students will be among them – no matter which path they take once they finish Uni.
Some students will launch straight into starting their own business. However, many will get their start as employees or interns. With over 20 years’ management experience in the corporate world, I know what employers are looking for – and it’s more than just a Uni degree. Every graduate will have a strong knowledge of design concepts and theory. What will give them ‘the edge’ is how they apply that knowledge, including how they respond to stakeholders and challenges.
Designers need to be adaptable and nimble. They need to be resilient in the face of feedback. Most of all, they need to understand how to create a unique, marketable brand experience that engages customers on an emotional level. This emotional connection is the backbone of dog&boy, and it’s fundamental to the fashion business.
I can’t wait to see what the students come up with, how they interpret the dog&boy brand, and to watch them evolve throughout the project.
Watch this space for the winner!
As well as the monetary prize offered by RMIT, industry participants have the opportunity to have their designs featured in the 2019 dog&boy collection. No promises until I see the final pieces, but I’m sure there will be some stand-out designs. And what better exposure for a budding designer than to see their scarf go to market? The winner will be announced late 2018, so be sure to watch this space!