As a fashion designer and programme leader in fashion at LCCA, Silja Manninen is someone with a wealth of experience, both academic and industry related. Her work has featured in British Vogue, The Times and The Guardian, and she’s even had work exhibited at the V&A Museum.
Here, Silja details five ways in which her first-hand experience of the fashion industry have helped prepare her for a teaching career.
1. Creating a professional network
Sometimes your network is your net worth. In fashion, it is important not to burn bridges as you never know where an opportunity may arise from. Through professional networking, many opportunities present themselves, whether for myself or for those I have previously taught. My personal network in fashion gives me confidence when I am with students and allows me to get students involved in live projects or gain internships and insight into the industry.
2. Working with a variety of people to achieve a goal
Management and team leadership experience I’d gained from a previous position as head designer came in handy when I took up the programme leader position at LCCA. It has also helped when it comes to delivering lessons and understanding a variety of different people with different needs and skill levels. Team work and working to tight schedules has been of immense importance in my academic career.
3. Presenting information and ideas
Understanding how a collection is designed and manufactured for both runway and selling in the industry is essential if you’re planning on teaching fashion. You need to be able to provide students with accurate, contextualised information about the different processes. The skills needed to present ideas are also gained through working in the industry and have proved essential in having the confidence to determine the difference between good and bad practices in teaching. These skills and traits enable you to build trust and gain the authority needed when assessing student work and giving feedback.
4. Marketing yourself and your work
Promoting yourself as a design professional is an essential skill for anyone wanting to survive and strive in today’s competitive fashion industry. Working as a designer and running my own brand left me well-prepared for industry expectations. My stint as a PR assistant also opened my eyes to the different ways brands promote their products and has enabled me to advise and assist students with their portfolio preparation and lookbook shoots.
5. Understanding the needs and requirements of industry
My industry experience is undoubtedly the number one thing that has prepared me for teaching, giving me the knowledge and confidence to pass on information I have learnt to a new generation of eager designers.