Hi! Hopefully you have read the previous posts about AOD and their Sri Lankan fashion design students.
However today is going to be a little different. Today’s post will cover a topic which is even more alien to Sri Lanka than fashion designers. Fashion Marketing. Fashion marketing is the process of managing the flow of merchandise from the initial selection of designs to be produced to the presentation of products to retail customers, with the goal of maximizing a company’s sales and profitability. This is the first year which AOD has offered Fashion Marketing degrees, which demonstrates how novel the concept really is. But if you want to learn more about the interesting lives of fashion marketing students at AOD then please read on!
Shimalka Bodaragama- She is in the first year of her degree ( BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing from University of Northumbria). This is the first batch to be given the opportunity to study fashion marketing at AOD. She is also the creator of the clothing boutique – Ladies Runway.
What motivated you to pursue fashion marketing career?
My mother is a designer too. Although she is not a fashion designer this motivated me to work in the industry. It was my own line which motivated me to pursue fashion marketing. I found through personal experience that fashion designing is not enough to start your own brand and to run your own brand. There is a big difference between AOD and places I have been before. I looked for fashion marketing in other places but this place was the best fit.
Could you elaborate more on what is actually part of the fashion marketing degree?
This is the first semester. However the basic outline of the course is that there is a combination of the fashion marketing and fashion designing modules. We really gain the cprrect idea about how to market our products because in the end you need to sell your product. We get a lot of imput from Karen and the rest of the lectures on how to market your product.
Is it easy to start a clothing line in Sri Lanka?
It’s really not easy in Sri Lanka. If you are selling custom made clothes I think you may have a chance in Sri Lanka. Colombo is a very small place. The sad fact is even if you pay 10,000 rupees for something from Mango the chances are you will see another person wearing the same thing. Therefore when it comes to domestic mass production I think it’s really difficult because there is a lot of factory rejects in the market. There is a lot of quality products but people may prefer cheaper clothes. However abroad we are quite famous for our mass production such as Victoria Secret and Nike. But we are not well known for our designers.
What Sri Lankan brands do you feel have marketed their product in a good way?
I think Kelly Felder quickly gained market share in the market compared to other brands and that is thanks to the manner they marketed the brand. They have come to a good stage. Kelly Felder just started and boomed.
What kind of skills and experiences do you feel you have or will gain from the fashion marketing degree.
We now know how to build a portfolio but for me I feel we have been exposed to a greater international platform in terms of the knowledge we gain. The course is three years and hopefully by the end we gain avenues to work at a top company. I have already learnt about time management. I studied for a diploma at LIFT before but here I feel you are more on track.
The lecturers at AOD don’t just want to see the result they want to see the process. There is a real interaction between the lecturers and the students. You get to speak to them one on one so you can always ask them for help or guidance. I enjoy the fact that you get to travel.
We were able to go Singapore and visit an interior exhibition (Maison and Objet Area Asia). Especially being older than some of the other students who are 18-19 years old, I really see a value in the opportunities given to travel as at 18 years I didn’t have such an opportunity.
What are your aspirations after you complete your fashion marketing degree?
I would like to be a personal stylist or while running own label I want to be a fashion consultant. I was inspired after I completed my diploma at Lift. I really wanted to start my own brand. In this creative industry, if you work under someone else it is like you are just helping them to achieve their dream. I want to focus on my dream!
Many people in Colombo have money to splurge on fashion but have no idea how to appropriately match their clothes. Furthermore there are no fashion boutiques in Colombo which offer proper fashion consultation simultaneously. I realized this when I started my own fashion line Ladies Runway. People used to ask me what earrings they should wear with the dress, what kind of shoes would match with the outfit!
The problem is that they don’t know how to use it. They may glance through fashion magazines but they don’t really understand how to use the tool. In the end they will over accessorize and wear Chanel handbag with a Gucci belt. Furthermore those who have earn their money in their forties or fifties don’t know how to spend it and do not usually go through social media such as Instagram or magazines to learn it.
Any advice to those who are thinking to pursue fashion designing?
The fashion industry is not an industry where you give your 100 percent. You have to give 101 percent! Whoever wants to pursue fashion must really want to do it. You cannot just pursue fashion for the sake of it. You have to be ready to put your heart and soul.
Manasha Silva- She is in the first year of her degree ( BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing from University of Northumbria).
I basically wanted to start right after I finished my A’ levels. I was already interested in fashion and have previously been part of the Colombo fashion scene; I have styled for various shoots and worked behind the scenes at events such as CFW. Currently, I am working at LOVI Sarongs. What attracted me to fashion marketing in particular was I liked the way they presented and marketed it. But I wanted to know how that sector operated in depth. To my knowledge, I was only student who specifically came to AOD for the fashion marketing degree. It is a new degree to AOD and many of my classmates were originally planning to do the fashion designing and later after hearing about the fashion marketing degree deciding to do this degree. On the other hand I came with portfolio knowing I wanted to do fashion marketing. I am currently also doing a management degree but I took a gap year from that.
What have you learnt so far at AOD?
We learn a lot of what goes into process of marketing a brand. It’s not just as simple as learning about the clothes. We must learn to forecast trends to an extent and judge target markets. I have now learned that the steps to market can be broken down to a series of processes.Thanks to the lecturers we have also learnt a lot. They are the ones who are very involved.
They make us push our limits and challenge the concepts each one has about their own definition of style I think they push. I’m very minimal. I also enjoy incorporating the colour black into my ideas. Karen knew from the beginning I had a very set idea about what my personal style is.She actually told me that this is fine so long as I don’t limit myself from opportunities to be innovative and think out of the box. This was quite valuable advice as the lecturers constantly want us to question everything we do and the work around us.
What experiences have you enjoyed so far?
The Sri Lankan Fashion Design Festival was great. But I also enjoyed the Mercedes Benz fashion show. We had very small team where we had to coordinate among ourselves and ensure the models were prepared and ready to on stage every thirty seconds. It’s really fast paced but it is exactly the kind of experience we need if we want to have good job prospects and handle the fashion world after AOD. You can’t be scared of new experiences and most constantly be flexible but this is part of the fun!AOD also bring a lot of people inside industry to give lectures. I’m a big fan of Lee Jonathan brothers so that was a great experience. I am already acquainted with Tara Sugar but people who have not met Tara got a great opportunity to do so. What’s great about being able to meet people from companies such as ECHO is that they do not just speak to you for an hour and go. You get the opportunity to make new connections which will ultimately help you later down the line! Whether you study fashion marketing or fashion designing networking is a key to success.
Im really looking forward to the gender project. We have been talking extensively about gender neutrality and the concept of unisex clothing. I think it will be interesting to use feminine aspects in men’s collection such as floral prints or masculine silhouettes for women.
What are your future aspirations?
When I started I wanted to become a fashion buyer. However, recently I have changed my viewpoint due to the success of my side hobby as a stylist. A friend of mine Tara Sugar who used to be stylist in the UK has kind of inspired me a lot to pursue this avenue. But that is the beauty of the fashion marketing degree. I can choose later whether I want to be a fashion buyer or a stylist because the degree gives me a wide range of career options.
What do you have to say to anyone who is interested in a fashion marketing degree but is not sure or thinks it may be a waste of time?
People need to stop having misconceived ideas about the fashion industry. It is one of the most profitable and lucrative industries in the world! People forget that we will never stop buying clothes no matter what the economic climate is in the world. Also a lot of people may think brands are stupid. But the reality is that in order to be successful most of us need to look our best in both a professional and personal setting.
Fashion marketing offers a great avenue to get into the world of fashion. Also if you are not completely sure if you want to do fashion designing then fashion marketing would be a great degree for you as it explores the commercial part of fashion with the actual designing process.
Suvini Gamage- She is in the first year of her degree ( BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing from University of Northumbria).
Why are you studying fashion marketing?
I was looking for fashion designing but when I heard about fashion marketing where you also get to learn how to market the designs I thought this would be a smarter choice to make.
The biggest lesson you have learnt at AOD:
I learnt a lot of skills but most important I would say was photography skills. I learnt this through the lecturer but there was also a vintage Photoshop assignment where we had to style authentic vintage garments but in a more contemporary way. This was really good because I never expected anything like that.
Lectures are actually quite fun. It’s not like school, they actually put effort into making it interesting. They give us interesting assignments and they actually get involved in the group work in class. Not only do we learn to interact with the lecturers we learn to communicate as well.
You have only started the fashion marketing course one month ago. Would you say that fashion marketing degree is a mixture of both fashion marketing and fashion designing elements?
Currently, there is only one pure fashion marketing module which we do every Wednesday. But there is mix even in the other modules. It cannot be strictly categorized as fashion marketing or designing.
Do you have any special projects which the fashion marketing students alone have to complete?
We do have a marketing project. We were divided into groups where we supposed to imagine we are opening up a pop up store during awrudu. We chose to imagine ours would be at the arcade. We had to justify why we were doing it and why that exact location. We had to have group meetings and gather secondary information. We had to figure out through newspapers and magazines their marketing strategies such as if they give gift vouchers and so on. We also had a group report to write. We had to give a SWOT analysis and PESTEL analysis.
Any fashion brands in Sri Lanka which you feel have marketed their brand well?
There is one brand called Lovi Sarees. It recently established itself. It’s going on a good track. It’s only focused on luxury sarongs. The sarongs have pockets and luxury belts. It’s a look which you could even wear to the red carpet. They have a good online customer base where customers can call and get their orders.
What advice would you give aspiring marketing students?
You need commitment and you need good time management. These are the ingredients you need to be successful. Also the fashion marketing degree is really interesting so anyone interested should definitely try it!
Lithma Ekanayake- She is in the first year of her degree ( BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing from University of Northumbria).
What motivated you to join the fashion marketing degree at AOD?
I learnt about the fashion marketing degree at AOD through newspapers and their website. I also have two friends studying here at AOD and they gave me some very positive comments regarding AOD. I am studying fashion marketing because my aim is to open fashion boutique in Colombo. So to open it I need the business side and what kind of fashion the customer market is interested in according to their lifestyles. Designing is mainly about the textile industry and creativity. But it is important to know the business side of fashion as well. Ultimately I would like to open up a very minimal yet high end fashion boutique in Colombo.
What is people’s reaction when you tell them you are studying fashion designing?
They usually ask me why I don’t study something more serious! Most people are unaware of the potential of doing fashion marketing. However those who are more exposed to the global community have a better understanding. My parents at first weren’t totally happy with the idea. It did take some time to convince them. But I was really determined to go through with it. You have to stick to it if you love it right? After talking to lectures they kind of got an idea of what I wanted to do and it was easier after that.
The most important lesson you learnt from AOD?
I have so far mostly improved upon communication skills. I had social anxiety issues especially during presentations. Karen once told me to present while standing on a chair and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. They do not just stick to the syllabus- they help you improve as a person too.
Your favourite experience so far?
My favourite part was visiting high end boutiques during the study tour to Singapore. I loved visiting the Chanel and Alexandar McQueen stores. It was such a different experience. Some stores were actually really helpful. I also enjoyed Gucci. We gained so much exposure. We have also gone to places in Sri Lanka such as Pettah.
What would you say to anyone who critics the idea of a fashion marketing degree?
This course is not entirely based on marketing. You also get exposure to fashion designing. So really I think we gain the best of both world. It is a really new to Sri Lanka. But it is a recognized degree all around the world. It really has potential if you are willing to open up your mind to it.
Who do you think has marketed their fashion brand really well?
I think Odel has marketed their product really well. They have certain seasonal themes such as Winter Wonderland which is basically very similar to what international designer do right now.
What advice would you give anyone who wants to join fashion marketing degree at AOD?
It is kind of a tough degree but as long as your passionate and love what you’re doing and you can go through it. You don’t have to worry about missing out on the fashion designing part as the modules are a mixture of both. We still learn about garments and basic pattern making and sewing skills. Furthermore we have plenty of additional work which helps to cover both aspects. You still have access to the same resources.
Saeeda Deen- She is in the first year of her degree ( BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing from University of Northumbria).
I actually wanted to become a jewelry designer. I especially like cotemporary jewelry designer. However when we look at Sri Lankan market today contemporary jewelry often means costume jewelry like big statements. I prefer to design real jewelry such as silver and gold plated jewelry. So in order to achieve this goal I planned to study fashion designing. However after hearing about the fashion marketing degree and fact we were to be the first batch I thought this would be good. One reason I chose fashion marketing is because fashion designing is more focused on the garments. Fashion marketing is a broader degree and more relevant to my dream of jewelry designing.
What is the difference between the fashion marketing and fashion designing degree?
Essentially both are very similar. We learn the basics of how to design a garment. But the fashion marketing takes it few steps further as after designing the garment you need to know how to sell the end product. We do editorials and photo shoots. Basically, we learn how to create a brand and market our product as.
What do you enjoy about the fashion marketing degree at AOD?
I really enjoy the good relationship we have with the teachers at Aod. They are really good teachers and are really qualified, well connected but also very approachable. We could just send an email and we don’t have to wait days for response. We are given regular responses and feedback as to our strengths and weakness.
What brands do you feel have a really good marketing strategy internationally?
Definitely Zara and H&M. You can see through their instagram feed they have very tactical market strategies and you can identify their target market through their posts.
What would you say to people who are considering a fashion marketing degree?
Fashion marketing is really good if you don’t see ourselves as designer in future. It gives a lot of scope you can do a lot things; you can work under someone as buyer, or at a fashion magazine or as a fashion photographer. All the relevant skills you learn during this course. You don’t have to work for a garment based business. People tend to forget that fashion is not just about clothes but lifestyle and interior design!
Specifically for me as I later plan to start my own jewelry label this will be an invaluable degree. Even if I don’t have the technical skills we are given the skills to effectively communicate with those employees under us who will have the skills. I can do the designing myself and it is my designing skills which are focused upon during the course.
There you have it… the last of the interviews of AOD.However stay tuned for next week for a brand new blog series.. STYLENOMICS (Style and Economics mixed into one!) Find out why you need to invest in your wardrobe!