By Paris Adams – 1851 Staff
Communication and promotion are essential to the fashion industry, which is heavily influenced by how brands and products are perceived by the consumer. When Lasell began offering a concentration on the subject in 2010, it grew quickly as students flocked to the program. However, students who choose to major in fashion communication and promotion are often neglected by the department and they deserve far more attention. More specifically, there should be a greater focus on industry connections, coursework, and events within the fashion communication field.
As a fashion COM student, I have sat through countless presentations and seminars organized by the fashion department in an effort to further our education and provide us with opportunities for networking. While these seminars do accomplish this, I cannot recall a time when the professional standing at the podium was from the field of communications. There seems to be a general disconnect when it comes to securing speakers at these events, with a strong focus on the field of retail and merchandising. During such times, it’s almost as though you can hear the general sigh of “why am I even here?” from fashion COM majors.
I am a strong advocate of fashion communication students attending COM Day each year. It’s one of the only opportunities to be surrounded by professionals in our chosen field. However there is not a strong focus on the fashion industry at COM Day. In order to improve, I believe it would be beneficial if both the COM and fashion departments balanced their events and seminars to include all concentrations: design, merchandising, and communication. Ensuring that at least one professional from each chosen major are present at these events will allow students to network and explore other subjects, creating a well-rounded understanding of the industry.
I understand that, in Massachusetts, there are more opportunities in the realm of design and merchandising. Companies such as TJX and Puma have their headquarters here, and boast strong ties with Lasell’s faculty, students, and alumni. I would like to see the same strong connections tied to Boston based marketing, public relations, and advertising agencies, as well as notable publications with a focus in fashion.
The coursework for fashion communication students is due for a restructure. Writing, reporting, or public relations are key aspects of the industry and I feel fashion students should be required to take an industry focused writing course. This could also include a focus on utilizing our Women’s Wear Daily and WGSN resources as required daily reading. Although all students are encouraged to use these resources, it is imperative for fashion communication students to be informed on current issues and happenings in the industry.
This year, the department has made advances in improving the structure and curriculum of the major, with new changes set to begin by next year. There have been smaller changes leading up to the restructure, as well, with current freshmen and sophomores working from a curriculum with a stronger emphasis in communications. While it is frustrating these changes did not happen in time for me to experience them, I applaud the various professors who have prepared me for a quickly approaching career and for aiding in my search for internships and other opportunities.
I only hope opportunities continue to flourish and connections within the fashion communication realm become as strong as the ones for design and merchandising. Certain professors in the fashion department have been essential in this quest, serving as a voice for the fashion communication and promotion major and fighting for improvement in courses, connections, and opportunities. Fashion COM majors deserve more attention from the fashion department.