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Are brands the future of fashion schools?

What Gucci's new Masters with UNIMORE and Polimoda tell us

Are brands the future of fashion schools?  What Gucci's new Masters with UNIMORE and Polimoda tell us

Some things will never change, and one of them is that in June, when the school year draws to a close, we start wondering about plans for September. Those who are considering a study path in the fashion industry should know that it is a constantly evolving educational model. This is the context for Gucci's recent initiatives, which in recent days has announced a Master's degree course entitled Retail and Omnichannel Fashion Management in collaboration with Polimoda and an agreement with UNIMORE (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) for the Master's degree course in Data Analysis for Economics and Management (ADEM). This is not the first time that the Kering brand led by Marco Bizzarri has actively contributed to the training of young talent - in 2018 it inaugurated the first Master's degree in Fashion Retail Management with the school located in the heart of Florence. Aware of the constant changes affecting the luxury industry, the brand is preparing to write a new chapter in specialised education, introducing a teaching model that could prove to be more relevant to corporate training. This raises the question of whether brands could be the future of fashion schools. 

«The Master's in Retail and Omnichannel Fashion Management in partnership with Gucci aims to teach the new generation about the luxury fashion industry and its main players, products and services» are the words that, on the Polimoda website, introduce a "unique and hands-on [practical]" course of 80 credits in total, including field experience, a mid-term project and a final exam, for a total of 700 hours in contact with industry professionals. On the one hand, Gucci will have the opportunity to work directly with the students, contributing to their training, as well as being the first choice for their own internships; on the other hand, the students will be able to experience first-hand what it really means to work for a major brand, preparing themselves for professional life in a concrete way. It should also be borne in mind that one of the main demands placed on fashion schools (especially private ones, due to the high fees) is that they guarantee their students a place in the world of work, not only in terms of skills, but also by directing them towards the best job positions. Bearing in mind that it would be better to choose to invest in one's education for the training itself and not only to gain access to prestigious companies through a preferential channel, it is evident that, based on a system of mutual exchange, a training course realised in collaboration with a brand has all the credentials to prove to be a win-win option.  

Imagining that fashion houses could indeed take the reins of a specialized degree, guiding young talent along with mentors and teachers - often in fashion schools, lessons proceed hand-in-hand with mentorship paths with creative directors and other industry names, a question arises: can such a course, in close contact with a luxury brand, really provide an open-minded education and convey to students a line of thinking that is not solely that of the brand in question? Because, as Camila Abisambra wrote in 1Granary in 2018, "there is not just one way to become a top brand". On the contrary, a good business leader is the one who manages to think outside the box, intercepting the needs of consumers, looking at the whole picture and adopting a freer approach and sometimes even relying a bit on his or her instincts. In this respect, the answers will only come with the passage of time. What is certain is that, today as on the occasion of the first episode of the partnership between Gucci and Polimoda, the intervention of such a big name in the luxury fashion industry in support of young talent has sent out a positive message. And it did not go unnoticed.