From Pune to Rome!
Meher Castelino reports on the pioneering tie-up between SOFT and ACM fashion.
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.