Each year, nearly 200 students enroll in fashion courses run by the New Zealand Fashion Tech, which has two campuses in Auckland and one Wellington.
The tech is one of many tertiary institutions offering fashion courses, with graduates going on to work in all aspects of the industry, from developing their own brand to merchandising, marketing, costume design, material sourcing and quality assurance.
The three-year course at Fashion Tech covers fashion technology and pattern design, and costs around $7000 a year. This covers tuition, as well as the majority of the equipment and resources needed.
Academic director Val Marshall-Smith says the student-to-tutor ratio is low at around 15:1 so students get lots of personal help and tuition.
“The classes are hands on and all work is done in class so students don’t have to work after hours,” she says.
“We used to have a much lower ratio of men to women, but over the years this has risen. Around 15 to 17 per cent of students are young men and the majority of students are aged 18 to 24 years.”
Val says the major contributing factor to success in the fashion industry, and within the student body, is a passion for the industry.
“Because the learning is practical, and the student can work at their own pace, prior skills and knowledge are not important.
“Students learn everything they need to know about the fashion industry during the course and we see their confidence and communication skills grow day-by-day, and these are skills that are critical in our industry. “
Val says fashion is a very difficult industry to get a start in if the person doesn’t have any knowledge or practical skills.
“In saying that, we have no problem placing our students. We do this in a variety of ways, but by far the most successful is the integration of work experience while on the course.
“The fact that our students can design, pattern and sample a range of garments, as well as cost these by the time they complete their third year makes them very sought after in the industry.
“We place about 95 per cent of our diploma students into middle range jobs such as assistant pattern maker, production assistant, assistant merchandiser and so on. They are often promoted very quickly because of their base skills and knowledge.”