This is the transcript for the video Fashion and Textiles

Timo Rissanen:

Good afternoon, everyone. I’ll just let a few more people to come in. I can see that the numbers are going up still, so I’ll give it a few more moments. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all so much for being here. My name is Timo Rissanen. I am the course director of the bachelor of design in fashion and textiles at UTS. I’m also an associate professor, and I’m also joined by one of our honors students, Frances Harvey. Thank you so much, Frances, for being here. I will begin by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora nation upon whose ancestral lands our city campus now stands, and from whose lands I’m also joining you today. I’d like to pay my respects to elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for this land, and I want to pay my respects to any Aboriginal people joining us today as well.

First, this session is now being recorded. Excuse me. We will only record audio and screen share. We will not be recording any video from you. Any further information that you provide during this session is optional and will be captured by UTS for teaching and learning purposes for staff involved to share questions and responses that may be important with the broader community, and to build an online text catalog of questions and answers for the benefit of other prospective students. By taking part in this session, you understand and acknowledge that your information will be used for the purpose detailed above. Further to this, the recording of this session may be published online, in addition to an online text catalog of questions and answers. In being involved, you’re consenting to the recording being publicly available. You may withdraw your consent at any time by contacting the contact below.

If you do not wish to be involved and be recorded as part of this webinar, you may contact instead to discuss any questions that you have. How to ask questions, type them into the Q&A box, which is at the bottom of your screen, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions at the end. I will be presenting about the course for the next 15 minutes or so, and at the end, we will attend to all of the questions in the Q&A. So, UTS fashion and textile design, I also have our Instagram handle on there, so please do make sure that you follow it on there. It is a real privilege for me to be the course director of this course. I am also a graduate of this course. I graduated from the course in 1999, and I have taught in the course for about eight years, seven years in the 2000s, then I was somewhere else for 10 years, and I returned to UTS year ago. It really is a great privilege and a joy to work in this extraordinary course as director and as an associate professor.

All of the courses in the school of design at UTS are grounded in this question, what does it mean to study fashion and textile design in the school of design at a public university of technology on Gadigal land during the Anthropocene? As you can see, it’s an incredibly complex question with lots of layers to it. There isn’t one answer to it, but posing this question in different contexts and in relation to different subjects, for example, is what guides our work in this very unique moment in history where there are all kinds of challenges that we’re facing, that we haven’t previously faced as a humanity, and that design in particular, including fashion and textile design, is well-placed to take on.

But first, why UTS fashion and textile design? The bachelor of design in fashion and textiles is internationally recognized for its outstanding reputation, with its continuing success and demand demonstrated through its high ATAR. The degree provides students with systems thinking, conceptual knowledge, and garment making skills required to transform creative fashion and textile visions. In various rankings, we’ve done very well, including the business of fashion rankings from 2017 that you see here where we were ranked 13th in the world and 1st in Australia, and we do have really strong links, both domestically and internationally. We have had graduates working for companies such as Alexander McQueen, Kenzo, Chloe, Helmut Lang, Burberry, Adidas, and many, many others.

By the way, all of the images that you see throughout are from graduates from previous years. Coming back to the question that I post earlier about studying fashion and textile design in a public university of technology during the Anthropocene on Gadigal land, that has direct links to sustainability and social justice and fashion. Some of you probably know, and I know this from various email conversations with you and the chats and so forth, many of you have knowledge about these issues and interest in these issues. We very much embed these ideas into the course, and I’m not going to be going through all of the text in the slides, because I have quite a few things to get through. The slides of this presentation will be made available and will be available to you next week. So, you can go through in more detail. But we really take a holistic view of sustainability and social in fashion and textile systems, N that guides the work that we do.

Just to give you a quick snapshot of the program, what that looks like, again, I’m not going to go through this subject by subject, but just to give you an overview, in each semester through the three years, you have a core studio. In terms semesters, you have actually two studios, because you have some textile studios as well. There are a number of theoretical subjects, and you also take four subjects in a stream called design studies, which is one of the things that really sets us apart from many other fashion and textile courses. In design studies, you really learn to situate yourself as a designer in different contexts, as far as cultural context, political context, but also see your agency and ability as a designer in the kind of challenges, but also opportunities that today’s world presents to us. You also do two electives as part of your degree in the second and the third year. We have a number of really wonderful electives, for example, machine knitting, one on textile dyeing and so forth.

I just wanted to give a quick snapshot into who we are as a teaching staff. The work that you see here is from the six of us who are the full-time academic staff. So, myself, associate professor, Toby Slade, senior lecturer, Cecilia Heffer, senior lecturer, Todd Robinson, lecturer, Donna Sgro, and lecturer Alyssa Choat. This is work, both published work, and also creative works from all of us. We all have both active creating practices, as well as academic publishing that we all do. We also have incredible sessional staff, all of whom work in the industry and are really just extraordinary industry professionals and really amazing teachers. The fact that many of our sessional staff have taught with us for 15 years while working in the industry also speaks to the kind of commitment that they have to the work that we do.

This is just a snapshot of some of the skills that you will gain in the program. You learn creative skills in fashion and textile design that are underpinned by an ability to contextualize design in systems and in transitions. You learn a lot of technical skills of garment making textile construction and surface design, and also illustrative and digital skills. Particularly in the professional practice subject in third year, you also learn to situate yourself within the industry as a design professional, and you also learn collaboration and teamwork skills, as well as communication skills. Collaboration and teamwork, particularly in the design studies and also a little bit in the professional practice, and then communication skills throughout the course in different subjects where you really learn to talk about you and your work as a designer.

There are material costs related to the course. The course is material intensive in the sense that the things that we design and make are physical things, and they come with costs. The costs are primarily related to the more practical studio subjects. In the first year, the investment could be around $800 to $1,000. This includes things like the pattern making kits, materials for creating toiles, prototypes, illustrative and drawing equipment, as well as digital printing of portfolios and so forth. We highly, highly encourage reuse and recycling of materials and equipment. Our industry networks also provide some in kind sponsorship.

For example, just before the current situation in Sydney, we received fabrics from a company in Sydney, which we’re now trying to figure out how to make available, given that part of our campus is a little bit inaccessible. We also, particularly in the first and second year, we purchased materials in bulk for students, so students can then purchase it at a wholesale price to save money. But I would also say just exercise creativity in this as well. I’ve had students do projects where they’ve set the parameters for themselves at the start of the semester that what did couldn’t cost any money, and they then worked with that limitation through the semester. Really, your imagination is the limit in that sense.

You’ll learn more about the facilities that we have in a different presentation today, so I won’t spend too long. I just wanted to show these two images to also remind ourselves that [inaudible 00:12:13], because we have obviously, like everyone else in Sydney, have been at home for some weeks now. There are a number of scholarships and other opportunities that we offer. For those students that choose to go and do postgraduate study after UTS, there is a scholarship from the Carla Zampati Design Foundation, which is $25,000 to go towards fees at a master’s degree. We also have various materials scholarships from the Australian Wool Education Trust, or AWET, Kulla Karishma in India, as well as ISKO Denim label in London, and others. We have historically, we’ve had really strong global studio electives.

So, for example, two different ones in India, one on block printing, another one on weaving. We’ve also had an experience at Polimoda in Italy, as well as one in China in Hong Kong. Obviously, over the last year-and-a-half, we haven’t been able to do these because of the border closure, but as soon as the border begins opening, we will begin planning these again, and you see some of the work there. Then where do our graduates go? Our graduates are employed in a broad range of roles, both locally and overseas, as fashion designers, as textile designers, knitwear designers, design assistants, stylists, creative directors, fashion editors and journalists, fashion forecasters, and so forth. Some of us also become academics after we graduate.

We also have really strong links with leading brands locally, like Hanes, Lorna Murray, Zimmermann, and many, many others. You also have the opportunity, as I mentioned earlier, to continue your studies into masters programs, which may come with full or partial scholarships. We have a graduate currently in the MA fashion design women’s wear program at Central Saint Martins in London, and a number of alumni in the MFA fashion designing society at Parsons School of Design in New York, just to give you two examples. We have great relationships with the fashion media here in Australia. This is from Vogue earlier this year, featuring one of our graduates from 2020, as well as another one from 2019. Nicole is from 2019, and Cara is from 2020. I believe we’ve been in Vogue three times this year, which is quite remarkable.

Just finally, this is where my slide end and I’m going to hand over to Frances in a moment to sort of talk about her experiences. But I get that for many students, given the high ATAR, there’s a concern about alternative pathways, and absolutely, they do exist, and many of our students come through these other pathways. So, if you take a year out, you can apply as a non-current school leaver, and that includes writing a statement and presenting a portfolio of original work. There is then also an interview that follows. The image that you see on the bottom, the small image, is just a snapshot from a portfolio.

There are also other pathways. So, for example, through UTS college, which was previously known as UTS Insearch, and sometimes students come to us having done some other studies at a TAFE, for example, or at one of the private colleges. So, there are a number of different ways in which you can arrive at UTS.