Representing the creative future

Fashion educators share their advice for the new year

Fashion tutors across the world gift their words of wisdom

The first days of the year are a time for reflection and inspiration, and tutors are always a great source of advice. We’ve always felt it’s a shame that the words of wisdom from great educators are shared only with their students. As we usher in the new year, we reached out to fashion tutors from universities around the world, from London to Australia, for their pieces of advice.


As a designer it is crucial that you consider not just how you design, but why you design and understand the role of fashion in society. Therefore, it is important to engage with global issues e.g. sustainability, social responsibility, ethical and environmental awareness.

To aim not to design products, but to create challenging, aesthetic garments with lasting value and meaning. Believe that your voice and creativity can make a difference.

Tom Adams, Course Director BA Menswear FDT, London College of Fashion


For young designers stepping into the fashion industry, here’s a rallying cry: embrace your lack of resources as your greatest strength. Money may be scarce, but your currency is boundless – ideas and audacity. It’s your ability to take risks that sets you apart in an industry often stifled by conformity.

Established fashion companies are risk averse, playing it safe as they try to protect their brands, their legacy and their house ‘codes’. But in having nothing to lose, you wield the power of fearless innovation. My advice? Be radical. Challenge the very systems attempting to confine your creativity.

So much of the system now is framing everything in terms of sustainability, but so much of that is being directed by the monolithic conglomerates that are responsible for the problems in the first place. They’re desperately trying to control the narrative now so they can continue to control the system in the future.

Your advantage lies in your fresh perspective, unencumbered by the constraints of the status quo. Embrace innovation, defy norms, and forge a new paradigm; a fashion world untainted by the shadows of its past.

Professor Andrew Groves, Director Westminster Menswear ARchive


A paradigm shift is my advice to designers young and old alike, who don’t already actively seek opportunities in and among the obstacles, since blessings very often look nothing like we imagine they will.

As predictions keep rolling in about 2024 being a year of challenge, let’s instead see it as a year of possibilities that we might not otherwise have even considered withOUT challenge.

Byron Lars, Jane B. Nord endowed professor, Pratt New York


The advice I feel compelled to give is to be the voice that the fashion industry needs to hear to inspire positive changes in the world. Always remember that fashion is not just about clothes and runway shows, but is a powerful means of communication that can convey cultural, social, and political messages.

Be bearers of your own language. Every design, every stitch, every fabric choice, every photograph speaks of you and your convictions. Do not be afraid to bring forth your unique identity through your creations. Fashion can once again become an art form that challenges stereotypes and celebrates diversity.

In a year of global turmoil and social responsibility, fashion cannot remain indifferent. Be aware of the power you have in your hands to transform the industry. Do not feel obligated to succumb to commercial logic that often sacrifices substance for form and sales. Your voice will be the one that guides the industry towards a more ethical and sustainable direction.

Be ready to consider alternatives that reflect your unique vision. Self-production is a way to build a stronger connection with your community, creating a base of supporters who appreciate your work for what it truly is and the message it represents.

Think about the right timing. Fashion can be hectic, but creativity flourishes best when nurtured with care. Do not be afraid to slow down, to dedicate the necessary time to create meaningful works.

Be the custodians of the future of fashion.

Luca Belotti, Fashion Design Area Postgraduate Programmes Course Leader, NABA, Italy


My dear young colleagues!

I wish you to be free and independent experimenters of the 21st century, to search for and create new design strategies, and to be at the forefront of post-industrial civilization!!! Be a person of a new type of culture, a new worldview and have a real impact on the development of society; people’s way of life!!! Always be energetic, sociable, responsible, valuable professionals to protect the environment and nature conservation!!!

I wish you that your determination will help you achieve your cherished achievements!!! I sincerely and with all my heart wish that your life will always be full of interesting events, kindness, love, true friends, boundless happiness, great success in your creative career and personal life!!!

Health, prosperity to you !!!

Nino Mgaloblishvili, Head of fashion design, Tbilisi State Academy of Art, Georgia (საქართველო)


Dear Emerging Designers,

As you embark on the journey of creativity and innovation in the coming year, here are some pieces of advice to guide you along your path:

Embrace Continuous Learning:

The design landscape is ever-evolving, with new tools, technologies, and trends emerging regularly. Dedicate time to expand your skill set, stay updated on industry developments, and never shy away from learning something new. Attend workshops, online courses, and engage with design communities to foster a culture of lifelong learning.

Cultivate a Diverse Skill Set:

While specializing in a particular area is valuable, having a broad skill set can set you apart. Learn about different design disciplines, from graphic design to user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. A diverse skill set not only makes you more versatile but also enhances your problem-solving abilities.

Stay Curious and Inspired:

Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. Cultivate curiosity about the world around you, explore various art forms, and draw inspiration from diverse cultures. Attend design conferences, follow influential designers on social media, and seek out creative outlets beyond your immediate field to keep your ideas fresh and innovative.

Build a Strong Portfolio:

Your portfolio is your visual resume and a showcase of your capabilities. Regularly update it with your latest and best work. Consider including personal projects that reflect your passions and demonstrate your ability to think outside the box. A compelling portfolio is your key to opening doors in the design industry.

Collaborate and Seek Feedback:

Design is often a collaborative process. Seek opportunities to collaborate with other designers, developers, and professionals from different fields. Constructive feedback is invaluable for growth, so be open to critique and use it to refine your skills. Join design communities and engage in discussions to gain insights from peers.

Understand the Business Side:

To be a successful designer, it’s crucial to understand the business context of your work. Familiarize yourself with basic business principles, project management, and client relations. This knowledge will empower you to communicate effectively, align your designs with business goals, and contribute to the overall success of your projects.

Cultivate Resilience and Perseverance:

The creative journey is filled with challenges and setbacks. Cultivate resilience in the face of criticism or obstacles. Learn from failures, adapt to changes, and persevere in pursuing your passion. Your ability to bounce back and stay committed will be instrumental in your long-term success.

Wishing you a year filled with creativity, growth, and fulfillment in your design endeavors.

Gabriel Monti, Fashion Design Leader, IUAV Venice, in collaboration with ChatGPT


Believe in the power of fashion; it brings people together, not apart.

Together you can move things, heal systems, solve problems, experience joy and happiness.

Choose with your heart and your passion with whom, where, and how you want to work. Then you will be able to feel the power of fashion.

Prof. Valeska Schmidt-Thomsen, Managing director of the fashion design department, Universität der Künste Berlin


There is a lot at stake for global society, and your fashion practice is part of it: lean into that. Remember you can leverage design towards change, caring for and impacting the present and future of humanity on our planet.

Lucia Cuba, Head of MFA Fashion, Parsons New York


Get to know the self you don’t know yet.

Respect your roots and the roots of others.

And don’t forget: a place where you can freely create and choose what to wear is invaluable.

Yoshikazu Yamagata, founder, Coconogacco Tokyo


Make time to imagine and to dream. What do you want to be part of? Co-create, co-conspire and collaborate with your friends, with your community, with the more than human world and with the earth. Move towards joy and make good trouble!

Lisa Z Morgan, Head of Apparel Design, Rhode Island School of Design


Dear young designer and design students,

This is my advice as I wish for a future full of strong, clever, and creative young designers.

Take the advice that resonates with you.

  • Be critical but constructive.
  • Share your knowledge; only together are we strong and can we make changes.
  • Create value for others – the joy is reciprocal.
  • Learn something new and rest assured you don’t need to master everything.
  • Collaborate cross-disciplinary and you might innovate.
  • What you focus on and train will be your strength.
  • Voice what you know, and never feel shy to ask ‘why?’ when something doesn’t make sense.
  • Language is a power tool. Start describing everything you see, experience, and know so you can argue, convince, and make others understand your points, discipline, and worth.
  • Voice what a better tomorrow is to you.
  • Be kind to yourself.

Christel Arnevik, Programme Manager of Fashion, Design School Kolding Denmark


I motion LOVE

I motion permeability

I motion understanding of the full immersion of being in our world

I motion LOVE

I motion putting truth at centre

I motion action where we find untruth

I motion LOVE

Zowie Broach, Head of Fashion, Royal College of Art London


As you go through your life, the people you interact with – both professionally and personally – are the most valuable, deserving, and important part of it. Show them respect and kindness always.

Sarah Gresty, BA Fashion Course Leader, Central Saint Martins


It’s good to have a sense of humour. Sometimes in fashion design, things can be very over the top. Be aware of how your actions in the industry affect others. Good fashion design can help people transcend their worries; it can help to create change for the good of the planet and other people. Be aware of place. In Australia, first nations people refer to this as being on country. History, tradition, ancient ways of craft and making, mixed with practices of upcycling and recycling – these are all important. Make sure that your work reflects your own values. Small is great. You do not need to be a large enterprise to make a difference to people’s lives through fashion.

Dr. Denise Sprynskyj, Senior Lecturer, RMIT University Australia


Listen to your intuition, trust the process, enjoy failing forward and find support in your community. There is something insanely beautiful about using your creativity to inspire and help others. And now, just as in all critical points in history, humanity needs creative minds and positive hearts to continue advancing. Young designers, we need you!

Julia Weems, Fashion School Director, Istituto Europeo di Design Barcelona


When the world is angry and violent, creating beauty and joy is radical. Fashion is life-enhancing when done well, so do it bloody well.

Dr Timo Rissanen, Associate Professor, Fashion & Textiles, University of Technology Sydney


My advice to young designers for the year ahead is to strive to align your practice values with your personal values. If you feel conflicted in your work, take it as a sign to change something. The world doesn’t need more clothes. Replace the artificial urgency with time for reflection and real research & development. Don’t tweak or churn but aim for a reboot that matters. Don’t like extractive processes? Over-production or over-consumption? Wish you could fix it when it’s broken or reuse it when it’s done? Inventiveness, ingenuity and determination are your currency. You can’t compete with the big guns but you have agility, fun and friends on your side. They secretly want what you’ve got anyway.

Shee Fun Chan, Course Leader BA Womenswear, London College of Fashion U.K.


I’d like to encourage young designers not to give up and continue making what they love. Fashion is an amazing interdisciplinary space where young designers can create jobs that don’t even exist yet. From our Southeast Asian perspective – and especially from Singapore, where the seasons are not present – we don’t follow the Western calendar. This gives us an opportunity to slow down, focus on our own region and develop a deep understanding of the crafts surrounding us; looking at sustainability through a lens of care. Young designers here are creating their own fashion system from their own regional perspective, looking at their own heritage to generate diverse conversations from this part of the world. I would also like to encourage young designers to remain curious, be open to other cultures and connect with practitioners from other parts of the world, to co-create and share their experiences.

Circe Henestrosa, Head of Fashion School, LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore


Embrace fashion’s many functions and applications – the brand pathway is not the only option – but hold on to the skills and tools you have acquired. I see designers turning to theatre, performance, education and social work, all at once. Fashion has plenty to offer, and it might not always take the form of a purchasable item of clothing.

Aude Fellay, lecturer in fashion studies, HEAD Genève


Stay curious and open. We are in turbulent times, needing unprecedented creativity and problem solving.

Hone your languages: the languages of ecology, of science, of design, of social interactions, of craft, to be able to converse fluidly. We need creative sparks that leap across usual boundaries.

Don’t shy away from the dark sides of fashion – that’s where the real issues that need attention are; it’s where the work is.

Don’t be afraid of AI. You are the groundswell of your own ideas, expert at your own inquiry, and these are not yet on the internet!

Be adaptable: open to working in related and peripheral industries. Though traditional fashion design outlets may be narrowing, new fields of fashion are constantly emerging. There’s always work for creatives.

Lynda Grose, Professor of Fashion Design, California College of the Arts