London College of Fashion
International Preparation for Fashion
September 2021 –
Preparation for Study Abroad
Q. What made you decide to study in the UK?
I grew up thinking that I would go to university in the US, but when I heard about UAL, it convinced me straight away that London was where I wanted to pursue fashion. London is packed with creatives and I am constantly inspired by the clothes and people I see as I simply walk around the city. In the long run, I know that gaining experience in London will help me in my personal pursuit of my fashion career.
At the time, I had never visited the UK so the thought of moving here felt like a significant risk. However, since my old school was also quite diverse and international, I knew I would quickly feel comfortable in a highly transient city like London. From my experience, London is safe as long as you are careful and cognizant. The transportation system in London, like in Japan, is efficient and reliable so it was not too difficult to get accustomed to the city.
Q. Why did you choose University of the Arts London (UAL)?
UAL was the only university that I applied to because it provided the specific courses that I was seeking (specifically in fashion). I started studying art and fashion quite later in comparison to my peers, so I knew that I needed to take a foundation course to prepare me for a more intensive curriculum.
UAL offers such a wide range of courses within fashion design, fashion media & communications, and fashion business which can be a bit overwhelming. The Pre-degree (foundation) courses offered at UAL allow all students to fully explore their creative potential. Through my experience in the foundation program, I was able to get a clear understanding of what specifically I wanted to pursue within the fashion industry.
Furthermore, I chose UAL for the amazing hands-on learning opportunities and the incredible access to the fashion industry. During the BA courses, the university provided many opportunities to gain invaluable real-world work experience with notable brands that allowed me to expand my professional network. Finally, the fantastically diverse community at UAL was a key factor as well. Many, if not most, of the students are international, which offered countless opportunities to exchange ideas and collaborate with students from various backgrounds and perspectives.
About your course at UAL
Q. What do you learn on IPF?
During the first term, we had a week to experience coursework in fashion design, fashion media and communications, and fashion business. We were given assignments during the week to make a bunch of A3 sheets recording the work we have completed during the class, which was quite tough, especially at first. Coming into the program not knowing which BA I want to pursue, the opportunity to explore all these different pathways allowed me to realize that I did not want to study design or business.
In the second term, we got to eliminate one of the pathways and focus on two (e.g. media and design) and eventually narrow it down to one in the subsequent term. In my case, I chose fashion media so since January that is what I have been studying. I have gained so many valuable digital skills as I seek mastery in the Adobe Creative Suite products (Photoshop, Premiere Rush, etc). Moreover, I have learned so much about different artists that play significant roles in fashion media space, all the things I could potentially create (films, magazines, styling plans, zines, etc), and so much more. In fashion media, the overall concept is to disrupt the system and challenge your creative abilities, so I have been able pushed and encouraged to dig deep and learn more about myself as an artist in order to discover what I truly want to achieve through my work.
Q. Can you tell us about your weekly schedule?
Although the classes are more intensive towards the beginning, it calms down after some time. I currently go to campus about 3 times a week (sometimes only in the morning or afternoon) and will have an online session once a week for digital skills and cultural and historical studies.
It does not sound like much, but we still get work assigned during the week and it is important to stay on track, so you have enough time to develop your projects. I found that if I keep up with the work during the week, I often have plenty of time to have fun on the weekends!
Q. What are the tutors like?
The tutors are quite different depending on the pathways, but in my experience, the design tutors tend to be quite intense… The business tutors seem to be more relaxed as well as the media tutors, but everyone is there to help you and make sure you get the most out of the course :)
Usually, the course consists of lectures and discussions and as you progress further into the term, you get more studio time to work on personal projects. My current tutors (for media) are/were involved with photography and have a lot of knowledge in the industry, not only in the fashion aspect, but also in terms of how to be successful as a creative.
The tutors here are unlike any that I have met before as they treat all the students as equals, making it incredibly easy to talk to them. They hold significant value in the idea of “being disruptive” and going against social norms, so not following the rules and breaking the system is accepted and encouraged. It is certainly a strange class experience, especially at first, but I have never felt more like I belong and comfortable to be very involved and engaged in the class.
Q. What are your classmates like?
As it is an international course, I would say almost 80% of the student's helm from China. I only know of 2 Japanese students in my course, but I have found it exciting to meet people from places I have never even heard of. Many of the students are around my age (19), but I would occasionally meet people in their mid-20s or 30s.
My classmates are relatively quiet, but there are several students who are more vocal in class. Considering how laid back my tutors are, the dynamic between classmates and tutors is very casual and fun. The classes are not that big as well, so it is a lot easier to speak up in class and to talk to the students individually.
Q. Due to Covid-19, classes are now conducted in a blended learning (online and in-person) environment. Could you tell us about any advantages you have found with online classes?
I have been lucky enough to only have a few online classes, but it has been rather convenient since you get to cut down the transit time. The nature of my online classes (e.g. digital skills class or cultural and historical studies) do not require being on campus since it mainly consists the tutors giving tutorials or lectures.
Q. On the other hand, were there any difficulties or disappointments with online classes?
The only thing that is challenging about the online classes is that it is harder to get people to participate. Sometimes the tutors will ask a question or try to start a discussion, but no one will respond so one person will have to carry the conversation. This is really up to the individual students and how much they want to get out of the class so I say don’t be shy!!
Q. How were the school's facilities and equipment managed under Covid-19?
In my experience, COVID hasn’t affected the facilities or equipment I needed in class.
Life in London
Living in London is SO MUCH FUN. There are events constantly happening and so much to see. Living in student accommodations allowed me to make so many friends outside of my course and made it so much easier to come out of my comfort zone. I was lucky enough to be put in a flat with amazing people, so I spend much of my time with them. I quickly came to consider them my second family! I share flat with 3 people all of whom come from different cultural backgrounds, so we are all constantly shocked bythe differences in our lifestyles, but we make it work. Although I got very lucky with my flatmates, I realized that I really have to put myself out there and put in a lot of effort in making in order to make new friends and avoid loneliness. This commitment to step out of my comfort zone proved imperative as that is how I met some of the best people :)
Having studied at UAL
Q. What were the positive things you gained from your study at UAL?
I realized what specifically I wanted to study and what kind of impact I wanted to have within the fashion industry. The nature of the courses allowed me to be experimental and encouraged me to challenge the boundaries of art.
Q. Could you tell us if you can think of someone or a type of person who would be a good fit for UAL?
If you do not want to follow the standard system!! UAL looks for people who want to explore concepts that have never been explored before or tackle subjects no one dares to approach. If youdo not want to be told what to do and have full freedom over your work, I think UAL would be aperfect fit. The tutors will never tell you what to make or will even help you direct your work simply because they want to see something 100% authentic.
Q. We would love to hear about any positive experiences you have had with the support of the UAL Japan Representative (beo)!
Hearing other people’s application process to UAL, I’m so glad I had the support of the UAL
Japan Representative (beo) because it honestly made everything so much easier and faster for me. All the submission documents and processes were managed by my representative, and she made sure that everything ran smoothly.
The webinars and sessions really helped me decide that UAL was the university I wanted to go to because it gave me insight of the school that was not publicly shared online. There were many opportunities to listen to the tutors speak and hear the experiences of current students during the webinars and that was really helpful.
Q. Could you give any advice or messages for those who are thinking of studying at the UAL?
Put your all into the portfolio because that is where you get to show off what you are capable of. If you’re confident in your work, they will be able to see that and will recognize how you will impact the class. Make sure the portfolio you produce is a representation of you in some way and the tutors should be able to recognize that it is your portfolio just by reading your personal statement and your artworks. Good luck!