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September 20, 2021

The best fashion short courses for UK startups

By: Peter Gregory

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Looking to break into a new sector of the fashion industry? Brushing up on your skills before you release your next clothing line? Whatever your budget or time constraints, there’s a great short course out there for you!

We’ve spent hours talking to our customers about the skills and knowledge they wish they had had at the start of their journey. We have researched the UK’s best fashion short courses, and come up with a shortlist of 7 unmissable learning opportunities that can help you grow your clothing startup. 

Whether you’re trying to train a new member of staff, refresh your own memory or learn more about this fantastic industry, you’ll find some great ideas below!

The best short courses in fashion: September 2021

We spent hours researching all of the short courses on offer to fashion students here in the UK.

For our shortlist of courses, we asked our clothing & fashion customers about the kinds of training that they feel is lacking in their own business. As soon as we learned what they wished they knew in the early days, we then went out and specifically looked for courses that can help solve those problems. 

Our shortlist includes 7 UK-based courses that we feel are affordable and achievable part-time. Most of these courses can be completed online, and they all have a very tight focus on one specific part of the industry. If you’re trying to break into luxury, build your own ecommerce store or take better photographs, these courses can help! 

1: Starting An Online Fashion Retail Business
University of the Arts London

If you’re new to selling fashion online, then this UAL short course is hard to beat! With a price point under £500, this online course lasts 6 weeks (part time) and covers everything from competitive analysis to online store design & development. If you’re about to launch a website, this gives you everything you need to know. Take a look at the course web page on the UAL website to see a full list of the times and days that this course runs on. 

2. Fashion Styling & Image Making
Business of Fashion

If you struggle to style your own models for photo shoots, then this course run by the Business of Fashion is exactly what you’re looking for! Taught by the talented stylist (…and British Elle and British Vogue editor) Lucinda Chambers, this course is a supportive video tutorial that introduces everything you need to know about organising shoots, developing concepts and using colour, shape and texture to your advantage. 

3. Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design

Sometimes all you really need is a shot of inspiration! Masterclass.com offers courses from lots of big names in fashion (including Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furstenberg), but the Marc Jacobs masterclass really gets the creative juices flowing. You’ll get first-hand direction from one of fashion’s leading lights as he walks you through every aspect of fashion design, from creative risk-taking to the technical properties of different fabrics. 

4. Introduction to Circular Fashion Design
Birmingham City University

We all know that sustainability is a massive issue in our industry. But how many of us really know how to design and sell clothes in a truly environmentally-friendly way? Circular Fashion Design is all about coming up with new looks and new products without compromising on your carbon footprint. Birmingham City University’s short course on Circular Fashion Design provides the perfect introduction to this revolutionary concept. You’ll learn the core information you need to run a truly sustainable apparel business.  

5. Contemporary Issues In Global Luxury
British School of Fashion

The luxury market is a tough nut to crack, but if you can establish yourself in this sector, the rewards can be well worth it. This course from the British School of Fashion is a brilliant course on luxury, taught one evening a week in Spitalfields, London. This course isn’t available online, so it was put on hold due to the COVID pandemic, but it should be back up and running again soon. If you’re interested in moving your business into the luxury sector, sign up to their waiting list!

6. Digital Fashion Media
Conde Nast College

If most of your sales are coming from online sources (either through your own site or larger ecommerce stores), then this course in Digital Fashion Media will be perfect for you. Conde Nast’s Digital Fashion Media short course takes just three weeks to complete and covers everything from content creation to digital storytelling and the role of influencers. It will help you up your game online and push your brand to new heights, without compromising your existing online income.

7. Certificate in Fashion Design (Home Study)
British Academy of Fashion Design

The British Academy of Fashion Design’s certificate programme offers a great foundation for newcomers to the clothing industry. If you’ve already started your small business but you still feel like a bit of an amateur, this course will round out your knowledge and give you the confidence you need to grow your business. The course lasts approximately three months and covers everything from draping to swatch books and the properties of different fabrics. It also gives you the chance to earn an accredited certificate which can count towards further study. 

The Benefits of a Fashion Course

Fashion is a creative, instinctive sort of industry, so a lot of people are skeptical about doing a short course. In our experience, there are some very good reasons for attending a short course, whatever your level of experience.

  • Structure. On a taught course, you learn everything you need to know in a structured, efficient way. There’s no better use of your time if you’re a small business owner with a knowledge gap to fill. You can learn a lot on-the-job, too, but it takes a lot longer for the most important skills and techniques to sink in, and you’re constantly at risk of picking up bad habits.
  • Certification. Certificates and accreditations are a great sales tool for startups, because they help you establish credibility with new customers. When you’re a brand-new business and you’re trying to win a contract with a company that has never heard of you before, you have to show them that you can be trusted to do the job. A qualification gives your prospective customers independent proof, from a respected institution, that you mean business. 
  • Networking. We all know that having a network is important, but most of us squirm at the thought of attending a networking event! By signing up for a class in fashion, textiles or design, you’ll meet fellow students (and teachers) in an organic, comfortable way. You can learn a lot from each other, bounce ideas off one another and share best practice in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Focus. When you take time out to learn a specific thing in a classroom environment, you can dedicate  your full attention to it. When you try to learn on-the-job, it’s often easy to get pulled away by phone calls or work emergencies. Because short courses focus on one specific topic at a time, you get more control over the direction of your business. You can plan your evolution as a business owner / designer in a much more targeted way.
  • Trends. When a fashion expert sits down to teach you everything they know, they very often come straight out of the industry to do it. That means that, if you pick your short course carefully, you’ll get the latest information on upcoming trends, textiles and design methods.  Part-time lecturers who are already involved in the industry will attend fashion shows, read trade magazines and talk to contacts on a regular basis. They know trends better than anyone!

Remember: Practice Makes Perfect! 

These courses will teach you what you need to know, but it’s important to recognise that knowing is half the battle. We need to implement what we have learned, too. Whatever course you choose to go for, make sure you allocate enough time to actually test out some of the theories you’ll learn in your business. Learn some new skills, then practise those skills until they’re second-nature. That’s the best way to get a return on your investment in a short course!

Thanks for reading!


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