In a conversation with Careers360, Prof. Sanjay Shrivastava, Director, NIFT Patna shares his insights about increasing interest of aspirants seeking to enter the fashion industry. Prof. Shrivastava, who is also the additional in-charge of NIFT Bhubaneswar says, “India has a unique market and has potential to absorb all the graduates in different segments of fashion”. He mentions the challenges that this industry is facing.
In this interview, Prof. Shrivastava also talks about specialised fashion programmes and curriculum that NIFT Patna is offering at present and placement facilities offered. To aspiring designers, he suggests that students should pursue fashion and design only if they have creative mind, and are ready to face the challenges of this domain.
Read below the complete interview where Prof. Sanjay Shrivastava talks about the opportunities and challenges of this glamorous industry.
Excerpts from the interview:
Careers360: How has been the application trend at NIFTs over the past few years? Please share data, if any.
Prof. Shrivastava: NIFT has been gaining ground over the past few years. From last three to four years, the institute has witnessed increased number of applicants by at least 15 to 20 per cent. As a result, coaching institutes preparing aspirants for fashion and design entrance exams are also growing at a rapid pace. Moreover, parents are also realising that fashion is a good career option.
This region gives the maximum number of candidates for NIFT after NCR. Students from Bihar and Jharkhand comprise almost 20 to 30 per cent students across most of the NIFT campuses.
Careers360: Have you introduced or planning to introduce special course(s) at NIFT Patna? Please also name some of the other new programmes that have been introduced in the past few years.
Prof. Shrivastava: At present, NIFT Patna offers six specialisations. First batch of Textile Design and Fashion Technology will graduate in May 2017 along with Fashion Design and Masters in Fashion Management. Next year, we will see first batch of Accessory Design and Fashion Communication also joining the league of NIFT Patna alumni association. After 2018, we will be planning to introduce more postgraduate programmes.
Careers360: Please share significance and relevance of the offered programmes in today’s time.
Prof. Shrivastava: Textile has been always a strong economic contributor and will continue to do so. The fashion and allied industries are there to stay. The essence of food, cloth and shelter established long back still remains on priority on everyone’s mind, and if clothing is a priority, then there already exists a consumer in each one of us. Therefore, there will always be demand of clothes, thereby making fashion and demand programmes a necessity. All these courses will always have their own significance.
Careers360: Are you planning to bring any change in the flagship programme curriculum for the upcoming academic years?
Prof. Shrivastava: NIFT does a curriculum review after every three years. This year, we are trying to make the courses more dynamic by introducing more electives, which can be taken up across specialisations so that the design can be interpreted with maximum number of permutations and combinations. Playing fields for all design streams are dramatically opening into newer areas, and we are exploring all of these. We will be beginning design incubation of all types in the domain area and beyond.
Careers360: What are the key challenges that fashion & design education face today? How do you tackle them?
Prof. Shrivastava: Due to volatile changes occurring in the industry, future role of fashion designers will require ability to perform deep research in order to support design proposals. Fashion designers will be expected to create innovative designs, contextualise work and improve industry systems. As a result, academia is considering how to prepare graduates for this accelerated and highly unpredictable professional landscape by re-imagining the future of fashion design education. Educators are increasingly focusing on developing students’ conceptual skills and design processes within curricula that provide greater interdisciplinary opportunities. While this approach is being lauded by many, others, particularly those in the fashion design industry, stress the need for balanced education that incorporates the development of conceptual thinking and practical skills.
The future of fashion design education will require evolution in areas of pedagogy, mentorship and student development. We, at NIFT, try to do this by developing our faculty so that it learns new teaching methodologies and professional practices to ensure that graduates are prepared successfully. Faculty orientation and training is an integral part, and all faculty members are required to attend FOTD programs as a part of their professional growth at NIFT.
Careers360: How have fashion and design programmes evolved over last 8-10 years?
Prof. Shrivastava: Fashion and design education has now been recognised as serious business, and the industry would definitely agree to the fact that pillars of all successful design companies are pass outs from NIFT. The institute has expanded exponentially, and now has 16 campuses across India.
Fashion and design programmes have now many takers in both government and private institutes. The programmes, which primarily were looked at catering to a small segment of the industry, have now created a strong foothold in multi and cross disciplinary areas, and today indulge in all areas where creativity resides. The importance of the same has percolated to masses. Candidates are aspiring from tier two and tier three region to pursue courses and shape their dream career.
Indian fashion education has seen huge acceptance in international arena leading to significant opportunities for global collaboration with the leading design schools giving pathway to develop new programmes, students & faculty exchange and research across the countries. PhD is now being offered by design schools which itself is a great achievement acknowledging the scope and international acceptance of such programmes.
Introducing more postgraduate and Ph.D. programmes will further increase opportunities for international collaborations. The Government of India has been constantly offering increased support to design education by announcing and implementing initiatives such as establishing new NIFTs & other design schools, and assisting in R&D especially in handloom and handicraft sector.
Careers360: What are the emerging opportunities/new work areas for freshers in this field?
Prof. Shrivastava: Design is a growing field, and it is finding new corners and platforms apart from the established ones in the trade. Television and the numerous serials, to which Indian audience is glued up, have tremendous opportunities, and fashion stylists are in great demand in the domain. Wedding planner is another profile where the designers plan outfits for the entire family, along with decor and ambience for the wedding. Fashion photography, fashion journalism, designing of schools & hospitals, designing corporate wear for specific clients, logo designing, corporate stationary, packaging design, etc. are some of the emerging trends. Designing car seats, jewellery, leather & lifestyle products, toys, industrial design for various products, etc. are coming up in a big way.
Cluster studies are becoming a very strong area where the students get a chance to promote the craft of a region by doing design intervention and development keeping the market into consideration.
Careers360: What are the recent trends in terms of practical exposure, new fields, etc. in fashion education that you have observed in the past few years? How do you plan to integrate such evolving trends into your curriculum and pedagogy?
Prof. Shrivastava: NIFT has always taken into consideration the needs of the industry, and tweaked its courses as per the national and international needs. Practices and principles which are as per the latest trends have been identified and incorporated into the course curriculum. Intellectual Property Rights, CSR, entrepreneurship and case studies of success stories in areas of CRM, SCM and Quality have been incorporated, and students are given a choice through electives to take it up. Further, special workshops, seminars and expert talks are organised to keep the students abreast with the changing dynamics of the trade.
Resource Centre is upgraded every time with the latest forecast and other international and national subscription. Sites like EBSCO are made available to supplement and compliment the students learning within the campus. Industry trips are organised to give an opportunity to students to look into the way the industry practices and then relate with the courses that is being taught in the classes.
No two projects are same, and students’ skills constantly shift from one creative challenge to another. It is vital for them to understand that their developing creative skills and design thinking can transfer not only between the disciplines, but also beyond design into other sectors.
Careers360: How has been the placement trend at NIFT Patna? Please share below data on placements. Kindly also share any specific trend that you have observed this year.
Prof. Shrivastava: This year, there will be students from four batches who will be appearing for the common placements. Till 2016, there were only two. Students appear for the placements across various campuses based on their choices of participating companies. It is surprising that sectors that talk about livelihood and cluster development in handicraft and handloom are also opening up, and remunerations are also attractive.
Earlier at NIFT Patna, we had only two courses and the trend has been good; the students have got excellent opportunities till now. We are sure that the same will continue. Our students are making a mark in the industry and doing well at responsible positions in various companies across India and abroad.
For the UG students the average salary was Rs.4 lakhs and for PG students, it was Rs.5.5 lakhs. The highest package was of Rs.7.5 lakhs.
Careers360: How do you prepare your students for the placement process? What are the key areas where you guide them for interviews? Do you offer any specific preparatory module to your students prior to the placement?
Prof. Shrivastava: Yes, we do have sessions organised by professionals to help the students regarding things to keep in mind while appearing for GD and interview. The portfolios are also looked at for better presentation techniques. This is normally conducted in the 7th semester for the UG programmes and 3rd semester for the PG programmes.
Careers360: How important are internships for fashion students? How do you support them to get internship offers?
Prof. Shrivastava: Internships are an integral part of the learning curve. These are spread over for a duration from eight weeks for design to almost 12 weeks for technology. Industry mentors evaluate the interns on various parameters.
Each department has a database that is updated regularly, and students resumes are sent to several companies. NIFT normally places all the students for internship in India or abroad, but they are also free to approach their dream companies on their own.
Careers360: Do you facilitate alumni interaction with students of the current batch? Do they contribute in terms of placement or curriculum update?
Prof. Shrivastava: Alumni interaction is something that has been organised constantly by all the departments. It is an excellent platform which connects the industry practices to the leaning that we impart at NIFT.
NIFT alumni plays a great role in updating the curriculum keeping in consideration the industry scenario. Details are added, amended, deleted or introduced in different courses accordingly.
Careers360: What is your message for fashion aspirants?
Prof. Shrivastava: Government initiatives like Make In India and various start ups have always been an important part of the NIFT environment. All leading designers have been NIFT alumni, and the number of such successful stories is growing at a rapid pace. There are ample opportunities for aspirants in the industry. If you have the required creative element in you, then you can definitely make a mark in this field.
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