From Pune to Rome!

Me­her Castelino re­ports on the pi­o­neer­ing tie-up be­tween SOFT and ACM fash­ion.

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A re­port on the pi­o­neer­ing tie-up be­tween SOFT and ACM fash­ion

Fash­ion in In­dia is get­ting not only very lo­cal in na­ture—with nu­mer­ous fash­ion weeks in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try cater­ing to the im­me­di­ate re­gions and sea­sons—but de­sign­ers are also be­com­ing ‘glo­cal’ with some ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing and shows in the for­eign mar­ket.

While for­eign brands are mak­ing a bee­line for the bur­geon­ing In­dian mar­ket, In­dian de­sign­ers are gear­ing up to sell their cre­ations around the world. Names like Man­ish Arora, Fal­guni and Shane Pea­cock, Tarun Tahil­iani, Ritu Ku­mar, Rahul Mishra, Amit GT, Ritu Beri, Man­ish Mal­ho­tra, Sabyasachi Mukher­jee, Pero, Abra­ham and Thakore, and Wen­dell Ro­dricks are some of the con­tem­po­rary la­bels that have made a mark with western buy­ers.

In­dian fash­ion in­sti­tutes have also met with some tough com­pe­ti­tion from their for­eign coun­ter­parts which are open­ing their own In­dian branches. Well-known fash­ion in­sti­tutes from the UK, France, USA and Italy are eye­ing the fash­ion stu­dent pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try and open­ing their doors in Mum­bai and Delhi to meet the de­sign re­quire­ments.

The School of Fash­ion Tech­nol­ogy (SOFT), Pune, signed an MoU with Ac­cademia di Cos­tume di Moda (ACM), Rome, on Fe­bru­ary 17, 2017, in Pune. The MoU bears the col­leges' in­ten­tion to jointly run at the Un­der­grad­u­ate and Post­grad­u­ate level. These cour­ses will con­trib­ute in the area of fash­ion buy­ing, mer­chan­dis­ing, brand de­sign and high fash­ion de­sign. The sign­ing was held in the pres­ence of em­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties. Chief Guest Mr Rahul Me­hta, Pres­i­dent, Cloth­ing Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia, Mr An­drea Lupo Lan­zara, Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, Ac­cademia di Cos­tume di Moda, Rome, Dr Manju Hun­dekar, Prin­ci­pal, SOFT Pune and Mr Adrien Roberts, Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion, ACM, were present. The glit­ter­ing event also show­cased glam­orous col­lec­tions by SOFT alumni Aditi Jaggi, Su­jata Tokey and Sh­weta Divgi.

SOFT was es­tab­lished in 1998 by Ma­harshi Karve Stree Shik­shan Sam­stha, in Tech­ni­cal Sup­port’ with the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Fash­ion Tech­nol­ogy (NIFT), Min­istry of Tex­tiles, and Gov­ern­ment of In­dia). With a mis­sion to iden­tify young women with pro­fes­sional, man­age­rial, tech­ni­cal and en­tre­pre­neur­ial as­pi­ra­tions, tal­ents and de­ter­mi­na­tion, SOFT of­fers Post­grad­u­ate and Un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grams cov­er­ing al­most all the fields of fash­ion. Stu­dents of SOFT are ob­served for the pur­pose of be­ing se­lected for their higher ed­u­ca­tion abroad by the Lon­don School of Fash­ion, FIT, New York and many other in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tutes.

Ac­cademia di Cos­tume di Moda (ACM), a pi­o­neer in­sti­tute from Italy in fash­ion ed­u­ca­tion (es­tab­lished in 1964 and ranked by Busi­ness of Fash­ion as No. 1 in Italy, no. 5 in mas­ters pro­grammes in the world and no. 11 in un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grammes in the World), has come to­gether with SOFT to cre­ate an ed­u­ca­tional plat­form that will en­hance the In­dian and in­ter­na­tional fash­ion sce­nario.

The Ac­cademia di Cos­tume di Moda (ACM) was founded in 1964 by Rosana Pis­tolese (19252008), who pre­vi­ously in­au­gu­rated the Chair of Fash­ion De­sign at the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity (Davis Cam­pus) and was the vis­it­ing Lec­turer at the Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in New

York. Cos­tume and fash­ion his­to­rian, jour­nal­ist and de­signer, has she ded­i­cated a life­time to ed­u­ca­tion. For the past 52 years, the School has been a cul­tural cen­tre of ex­cel­lence in the ar­eas of fash­ion and cos­tume, pro­vid­ing the Fash­ion Sys­tem and the En­ter­tain­ment In­dus­try with pro­fes­sion­als who have pur­sued great ca­reers— both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. The cour­ses of­fered by ACM in­clude three-year un­der­grad­u­ate cour­ses, First Level Mas­ters’ De­gree cour­ses, Vo­ca­tional cour­ses (6-9 months), an in­ten­sive course (week­end for­mula) and sum­mer school.

Dr Manju Hun­dekar re­veals why SOFT se­lected ACM out of all the in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tutes in the world. “We have been vis­it­ing lead­ing in­sti­tutes of the world for many years. Ev­ery in­sti­tute has its set pat­tern of work­ing. SOFT was look­ing at an in­sti­tu­tion, which has es­tab­lished its name, at the same time, is will­ing to con­trib­ute to the ex­ist­ing cour­ses of SOFT with un­der­stand­ing of the In­dian Mar­ket Re­quire­ments. ACM (es­tab­lished in 1964 and ranked by Busi­ness of Fash­ion as No. 1 in Italy, No. 5 in Mas­ters Pro­gramme in the World and No. 11 in Un­der­grad­u­ate Pro­grammes in the World), but un­known in In­dia. Both the in­sti­tutes’ au­thor­i­ties vis­ited and brain­stormed with each other for al­most an en­tire year. We ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar­i­ties in terms of a strong li­ai­son with craft and cul­ture, which re­flects strongly in the stu­dents’ de­sign in­ter­pre­ta­tion. We also found that both in­sti­tutes want to in­cor­po­rate craft/cul­ture and work to­wards its up­lift­ment at in­ter­na­tional lev­els.”

Dr Hun­dekar ex­plains that the cour­ses es­tab­lished jointly by SOFT and ACM are in­dus­try in­te­grated pro­grammes that will cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to ob­serve the in­dus­try at ev­ery stage of learn­ing, prac­tic­ing and as­sign­ments. The Cour­ses in­clude live case stud­ies of the in­dus­tries, con­sis­tent in­puts from es­tab­lished fash­ion pro­fes­sion­als, work­ing on projects given by in­dus­try. These pro­grammes also pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for the stu­dents to learn a few mod­ules at ACM along with in­ter­na­tional in­tern­ship.

“Our cour­ses also strongly in­volve In­dian Fash­ion Pro­fes­sion­als who have worked for in­ter­na­tional brands and de­sign­ers. The pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in the in­dus­try are ca­pa­ble of im­part­ing up­dated knowl­edge and skills, which is very im­por­tant,” con­tin­ues Dr Hun­dekar.

The Pro­grammes are care­fully planned to ac­com­mo­date the in­dus­try’s ma­jor as well as minute re­quire­ments. Also, the Pro­grammes in­clude knowl­edge about the global fash­ion mar­ket to make the stu­dents sus­tain as ex­pert fash­ion pro­fes­sion­als.

There will be con­stant in­ter­ac­tion through ac­tual in­ter­ac­tive mod­ules at SOFT by ex­perts from Italy, vir­tual ses­sions, men­tor­ing based on the per­for­mance as­sess­ment ex­perts from ACM, Italy.

Dr Hun­dekar fur­ther adds, “We can see stu­dents in­ter­act­ing with in­ter­na­tional de­sign­ers

and brands. It is a pi­o­neer­ing in­sti­tute from Italy in Fash­ion ed­u­ca­tion. We found that stu­dents from NIFT and many other re­puted in­sti­tutes from In­dia are com­plet­ing their Mas­ters from ACM. When I per­son­ally in­ter­acted with renowned fash­ion pro­fes­sion­als, many of them ex­pressed very high re­gards for the in­sti­tu­tion.”

An­drea Lupo Lan­zara, Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, ACM, shared his vi­sion for the tie-up. “ACM is a bou­tique school. We like our ed­u­ca­tional process to be as­sisted by peo­ple from all over the world but we don’t want to be­come a sub­sidiary of a coun­try. We like to have five per cent of stu­dents of each coun­try and in­flu­ence the cul­tures of the dif­fer­ent stu­dents with our tra­di­tions to cre­ate some­thing unique and im­por­tant. In­dia is a na­tion of 29 states, all dif­fer­ent with crafts and tra­di­tions and these pre­cious crafts are used by Ital­ian brands for col­lec­tions not only in Italy but also France.” ACM has done some home­work re­gard­ing the fash­ion busi­ness in In­dia and an­a­lysed the re­quire­ments to at­tract the course in terms of ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence and learn­ing meth­ods. “The In­dian fac­ulty of SOFT and our in­ter­na­tional fac­ulty will come and join for cer­tain work­shops.”

Adrien Roberts, Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion, ACM, grad­u­ated from Cen­tral St Martins in the 1980s, stud­ied men’s wear at the Royal Col­lege of Art Lon­don, was Group Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion at Isti­tuto Marangoni, Mi­lan and took up his present post in 2014.

“ACM is an art school with tra­di­tional val­ues, more like Bri­tish art schools where you can feel the en­ergy as soon as you walk in. We like to have col­lab­o­ra­tions since ed­u­ca­tion is a two-way sys­tem. We don’t want dom­i­na­tion though our method­ol­ogy. We are de­vel­op­ing and blend­ing the cour­ses with SOFT team so they fit into the mar­ket. It will be ridiculous to try and fit some­thing Ital­ian into the In­dian mar­ket. We will teach In­dian de­signer stu­dents to ap­proach the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket as well as ed­u­cate them in their own mar­ket.”

In­dian ex­perts like Ravi Ad­vani, Pres­i­dent Strate­gic & New Ini­tia­tives, Tex­port Syn­di­cate (I) Ltd, will be ad­vis­ing on the col­lab­o­ra­tion. “At one stage, we are cor­rect­ing the course to make it more rel­e­vant to the fash­ion and re­tail in­dus­try in In­dia and in­ter­na­tion­ally. I will be ad­vis­ing on fash­ion mer­chan­dis­ing by bring­ing in­dus­try ex­perts to the class­rooms and tak­ing the stu­dents to the in­dus­try for hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence. The trans­la­tion of sys­tems from in­dus­try to col­leges still has gaps which we will try to fill-up.”

With this pi­o­neer­ing tie-up be­tween SOFT and ACM fash­ion, ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try makes ma­jor strides to­wards global re­quire­ments.

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