Want to succeed in today’s fashion world? Learn to code

Only knowing how to sketch, cut and sew is no longer enough for today’s fashion students

Dina al-Shibeeb

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Only knowing how to sketch, cut and sew is no longer enough for today’s fashion students, according to the director of a large design institute in Florence, the birthplace of the renaissance.

The tech revolution is bringing sweeping changes to fashion design courses – and the city’s Instituto Europeo di Design hopes to lead the way.

Alessandro Colombo, the institute’s director, said that ushering in change has not been easy to students used to traditional design methods.

Several perplexed students asked him: “We are studying fashion, why do we need to develop an app?”

In May, fashion design students at the institute were tasked with developing a mobile app for the Guggenheim Foundation.

With social media taking center stage, fashion design, technology and commerce are no longer separate disciplines especially for art students.

Today’s graduating students have to learn to promote their future brands and creations in both brick-and-mortar and online markets. As well as app development, the institute teaches students web design.

To stay competitive, “it is absolutely important” that fashion students gain more skills, Colombo said.

“We are developing a brand inside the school and the brand will be developed by every student of the 37 courses we have,” he said.

With 11 campuses spread across Italy, Spain, Brazil, and China, the institute offers a wide variety of courses to suit different schedules, with courses ranging from one month all the way to a full undergraduate degree.

“We need to prepare the future e-commerce managers,” the director said. “Our focus this year is on the future of retail, how people are going to buy within 5-10 years.

The design institute was the first in Italy to introduce a master’s program in e-commerce after what the director saw the changes happening through what he described as “the online revolution” which “made sure that the customer rules.”

Asked what is his best advice for the students, he said that the most important thing was not be merely be updated, but having the “attitude to stay constantly updated.”

Georgia, an accessory and jewelry designer, has to learn some programming.

“I was bad in programming but it is getting better,” she said. “Technology is a big thing. In our field, we are always more connected with technology, we want it to be part of us.”