The industry is no doubt over-saturated with many more graduates than jobs available even pre-pandemic. The recent trend to dismantle the glamour perceived by having “made it” means many are already thinking pragmatically before embarking on this career path. So, on the one hand, it could be suggested that ending up with less future fashion graduates isn’t the worst result. However, reading through the experiences of individuals, and noticing it is not truly a choice in most cases, makes it hard to hold on to this sentiment. The ideal outcome, when aiming to expose the reality, is not to turn people away but to see a change. As a fashion designer, Éliane Vergès, points out, “A lot of procedures in fashion haven’t changed in over 50 years! Which is so incredibly ironic, with fashion being one of the fastest-changing industries on the planet.”
Art subjects have long been more accessible for the privileged, and COVID-19 seems to be widening this class gap. “With the economic uncertainty the risks are just too high,” one anonymous respondent admitted. We frequently hear the rhetoric that having “fewer resources should make you more creative.” Is this just another way of glamorising the struggling artist? What happens if you are working, or caring for someone, full-time? What if you can’t get a visa to study or live where fashion jobs exist? The dialogue implying that “if you are passionate enough you will find a way” suggests not making it is more a personal failure than a misfortune at the hands of a flawed system. This is not to say it is impossible, or commendable, to overcome adversity and enter the industry. But with nearly half of those surveyed changing their path, we have to reflect on what is lost and why.