How did you first come up with the idea for the club?
Maïssane: During my year out I found myself stuck at home with no money or internships. Despite sending a ton of emails, I was getting the same response: “Because of COVID-19 we are not hiring at the moment…” Everyone was in the same situation, we’d been dreaming about our placement year, expecting to do great things, but that has been replaced with disappointment and stress. Out of these mixed emotions, I got the will to create something. This is how we got the idea for the alumni club. In such a competitive and contact-driven industry like fashion, it’s essential to have something that unifies us. All “traditional” universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have alumni societies, so why shouldn’t CSM have one?
Cécile: In such difficult times, encouraging collaboration across all sections of the fashion industry is vital. We started talking to our classmates, in addition to year-out students first. Second, final years and graduates, all expressed their frustration. It was heart-breaking to hear how a whole generation of talent’s future careers was in such a precarious position. We identified a lack of an established connection with our peers before and after they graduate and a place to access a network that has the potential to help with internships, future employment, and mentorship.
What other issues is the club hoping to tackle?
Maïssane: To us, CSM isn’t just a school, it’s our home. People are here from anywhere between three to seven years; we come to Granary Square every day, working 24/7, even when we leave we’re still thinking about it! It’s easy to see why lockdown has been such a big adjustment for a lot of students. When we spoke to students many said they were very lonely; the pandemic has highlighted the importance of a digital community for students, in both a personal and professional sense.
Cécile: Another issue that came up was money. The disparity between students who just have a small room to work in and have to support themselves with part-time jobs and those who are more fortunate is more noticeable than ever. Being able to advertise financial support, scholarships, and funds along with sections devoted to sustainability and exchanging ideas on the platform could be a way to help, even if it only helps a little bit, we want to do all we can so people can focus on their work.