We catch up with London College of Fashion tutor, Sharon Hughes, during her last visit to Dubai to learn about her impressions of the Middle Eastern fashion industry and what is needed for the region’s fashion education.
In comparison to other places where you have taught, how did you find the level of fashion education in Dubai?
Compared to other places I have taught (such as China, London and the US), I found the level of fashion education in Dubai to be moderate in terms of designer labels and luxury retail from a savvy consumer perspective. However, there is a growing population of bloggers in Dubai which are causing a paradigm shift in the need for more global fashion industry knowledge in order to understand how those business models and marketing concepts can work in the UAE. Students who have expressed an interest in our courses have their hands on the pulse of fashion business either through magazines, blogs, social media, etc. And they are eager for more of a formal education platform, tied with a certification from a world renowned school such as LCF.
What were your conclusions? In other words, how did you find the experience after it had been concluded?
I found the experience to be brilliant. This is my second year in Dubai (May 2013 was first) and as always, I met some amazing talent – from designers to retail owners; bloggers to marketing professionals. I am always happy if at least one student gains something from the courses I’ve taught and in both years I have been overwhelmed with the responses received. There is usually more than one student ready for fashion world domination after the courses have ended. Education is powerful and can really inspire someone to think outside the box and go beyond the norm. You just feel empowered. This is what I believe the students, and I, feel when concluding the courses.
What do you think is missing from the general fashion education in Dubai?
Global Business, Economics of Fashion Business or Retail Management and Fashion Communications. With Dubai’s very eclectic international audience I think it is only time for Dubai courses and business professionals to reflect and understand other markets outside of the UAE for expansion and growth. One of the courses I teach, Social and Digital Media Marketing, gives students the opportunity to build a global brand just by engaging with various consumers online. This form of marketing can open the right business up to a large world. Moreover, with general courses, (such as that above) students will truly understand the core of fashion and retail business.
Why do you believe studying fashion marketing is important for today’s fashion professional?
Fashion Marketing has become a strong force within the industry, more now than ever before. This industry is ever changing and a fashion professional needs to know how to properly market a business if they want to stay afloat. Industry professional are more creative and consumers are more savvy, so the status quo in this world is non-existent. Additionally, competition is more fierce than it has ever been and a fashion professional with marketing knowledge will know how, to either be ahead of the competitor or prepare for their entry. Also, with the emergence of online marketing and social media, it is a must that a fashion professional have knowledge on how to leverage all avenues of marketing in order to be a part of 21st century fashion industry.
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