One striking fact, when asking someone from one of the fashion schools to tell us about the work of the institute, is always the first, more general, answer. “We are able to meet any student needs.” But what does that actually mean? What makes Bunka Fashion College stand out from other international fashion schools, Vice President Aihara? “Students who have an in-depth understanding of the fashion industry will certainly be able to enter this sector with a broader view. This is our main objective. The four specialisations offered by the school (Fashion Creation Department, Fashion Technology Department, Fashion Marketing and Distribution Department, Fashion Accessories and Textiles Department) cover all possible categories of work in the fashion industry. And without doubt, both theory and practice are important in this field.

To fully explore the potential of patterns and fabrics, students must search for their own aesthetics, coming up with completely individual creations. Nevertheless, nowadays, it is not enough to rely on creation alone. You need to maintain a balance between the needs of the consumer and the work of the industry, at the same time promoting the emergence of new designers who are also entrepreneurs. 
Tailoring classes form part of every course, even in marketing and distribution, for example. This is because we believe it is crucial to understand the creation of a piece of clothing and the structure of the human body, in the same way that it is important to grasp the technical stages of the creative process,” explains Vice President Aihara. There is a great focus, in fact, on the value of understanding anatomy and human forms, and it is no coincidence that every year, the Institute measures its student to create mannequins that offer an aesthetic representation of their average build. 
And customising tools is a very important value: “Our Institute has its own textbooks. – she continues – We are the ones who create the texts that we then use during classes, designed specifically for teaching and also translated into English and Chinese. And we boast 50 original publications covering 43 different subjects. As when teaching tailoring, we put the same effort into teaching the principles and theory of business. Our aim is to teach students how to make money by selling garments created by designers, without losing sight of consumer requests.”

But it is also the value of what we have to offer at post-graduate level that makes a difference between the various international institutes. “Bunka Fashion College offers its graduates the opportunity to continue their studies at the Bunka Fashion Graduate University (BFGU) – located within the same campus – to learn more about business in the fashion industry, supporting their individual personalities with the aim of helping everyone to start their own business, once they finish their course.” 

The only specialised school in Japan to offer Master's courses, about 30% of the students enrolled at BFGU this year graduated from Bunka Fashion College. Vice President Aihara continues: Many graduates from BFGU have achieved important results, founding brands and presenting their creations at the Paris and Tokyo fashion weeks.” 

Among the fundamental principles of the Bunka Fashion College educational model, the joint work of its students no doubt plays a major role: “The College has some of the best facilities and equipment in the world. In all the classes, there are three different types of sewing machine, for a total of 3,300 units. Thanks to our production system, as many as 200 students can work simultaneously. The daily commitment of our students is represented by the teamwork that comes together in the form of a fashion show organised every year in November. The show takes place over three days, during which the garments are presented no fewer than sixteen times to an audience of up to 20,000 people. 

And the continuity of the teaching method is a key factor in corroborating an educational system: “most of the lecturers graduated from Bunka Fashion College, and they include people of different nationalities. In other words, through their teaching, lecturers with practical experience in the fashion industry are able to simulate the real working environment and provide students with information that helps them start up a successful business. In addition, having lecturers that graduated from the same college ensures the continuity of our teaching method. Not to mention that these are people with a close link to the institute who are particularly dedicated to the students. All our lecturers have the opportunity to carry out research and participate in training programs, using the results obtained in their teaching.”

Knowing how to adapt reactively to sudden changes in the fashion industry is a key element for anyone operating in the sector and, moreover, it is a primary requirement for every fashion educator. “It is a fundamental factor” - explains Aihara - “Meeting the demands of the fashion world is a major responsibility for us. For example, by focusing its attention on graduate foreign students - who have increased significantly in recent years - Bunka Fashion College offers them considerable job opportunities in the Japanese fashion industry. It is also a way of contributing to the development of Japan, but also of their native country, should they decide to return there. And this is combined with the need to offer guidance on the subject of design. To rise to the occasion when it comes to this task, for example, we try to support and develop the design of new fabrics, to satisfy the most creative designers and raise awareness regarding the production of samples, fundamental for the work of the designers.” 

Images courtesy of Bunka Fashion College