Sarah Nigam, freelancer Designer/Fashion Columnist, Ex Lecturer of Sasmira for Fashion Designing Dept. , Masters from NIFT, Chennai.

A brief visit to any of the fashion colleges would make any fashion industry insider feel, “Oh Dear, I wish things were as rosy as you imagine they are”. My stint as a lecturer made me realize how far the students were from the REALITY. A few ice breakers like “What do you see yourself doing five years down the line?” or “Why fashion designing?” only further added weightage to the conclusion that, “The students of fashion are indeed very naive.” One answer that my mind refuses to forget was, “Ma’m, I have a passion for fashion.”  Those were heavy words coming from a first year student of fashion and however mindlessly they were uttered these words pretty much defined the very spirit of the fashion Industry.

This being my first article I would like to shed some light on how far from reality we as students are and the wakeup call that we all get when we start seeking employment in the Industry. Hopefully this article will also enable a lucid and planned approach towards selecting fashion designing as a career and much more.

Initially we all start with the dream of owning a super successful fantastic looking boutique at a fabulous, high profile locale of Mumbai, generating loads of profits and hitting the headlines of Fashions magazines for our innovative designs and money making business. All this, right after completing our so-called degrees and diplomas.  If only it was this easy to achieve our goals and fulfill our dreams.

Firstly, as students we should understand that fashion world is not only about glamorous models and celebrities strutting our outfits. It is also not only about meeting up with high-end clientele and catering to their needs alone. It is not only about giving saucy interviews to the paparazzi and keeping in touch with the top notch elites. If at all you have been thinking about all these things happening to you then sorry to break it to you but you need to come out of your dreamland as soon as possible.

As an aspirant you firstly need to introspect. You will have to analyze yourself. Understand and accept your strengths and weaknesses. Many a times in life we run after things which are just not meant for us. We have the example of our very own master blaster Sachin Tendulkar who went to a cricket camp to become a fast bowler but was rejected. He did not give up at that. He went in to that camp again but as a batsman this time and the rest is history. Similarly, an aspirant may be quite a good stylist but not a good business person. The fashion industry consists of various categories which help in the smooth working of the businesses like merchandising, buying, planning, design team, garment manufacturing etc. All one has to do is realize ones abilities and strengths and accordingly work towards achieving ones target or goal.

Expect the unexpected. Yes, because this attitude shall take one a long way. Be open to experiences as everything shall help one learn the finer nuances of the fashion industry. Be prepared to take yourself to places one would not visit on an ordinary day; the busy by-lanes of Dharavi to meet up with a job-worker or the dusty and narrow lanes of Jogeshwari, handloom societies down in Erode, Tamil Nadu where one can witness the dying art or the factories in Vapi, updated with the latest machineries. Every place one visits and every person one meets teaches you something.

All said and done, advice to students would be to break things down as to what are the various specializations in the industry. Then zeroing down on the most appropriate one where you think you can see yourself as a capable contributor. Join courses which you think would be able enough to boost your abilities and help you in achieving what you have planned for.