Thomasina R. Legend
There are numerous ways in which anyone can develop their fashion knowledge and skills for free and in this era of technology available to all, it’s so much easier to learn. Here are a few ways you can develop your fashion knowledge and skills for free
YouTube has become the go-to free platform to learn about anything and everything from fashion to tech, entertainment and more. There are many videos that give you a step-by-step guide on designing, cutting, sewing, and even educating you on the history of fashion. Utilise the platform for the great wealth of educational content that industry experts have uploaded. Research the best accounts to follow and subscribe to and begin your free learning journey.
Libraries are great starting points, too, if you have great ones in your area. If there are no libraries close to you, you can borrow from people you know who have the books you need. Alternatively, you can invest in some fashion titles from Amazon, eBay and other sites that sell fashion books. These sites also sell preowned books at very reduced prices, and they are just as good in quality. You can also ask for them as either birthday or Christmas gifts. These books will serve you well and aid in your knowledge about all things fashion, design and business.
Social media is such a powerful tool to use to advance your knowledge about all things fashion. Follow brands, individuals and educational institutions that share relevant content and information regarding fashion and the industry.
Blogs are still thriving platforms to gain knowledge and information. Many educational institutions and other individuals use their blogs to share valuable information and knowledge on all things fashion. Research some of the best blogs and follow them. Some great blogs to follow that will provide you with great information and ‘how to’ articles include and are not limited to CIAFE Blog, The Fashion Student Hub, Vogue, Diet Prada, The Fashion Law, African Fashion Guide, African fashion Foundation and more.
Subscribe to great platforms like the business of fashion, FashionRedef, Lauren in the afternoon by Lauren Sherman, The Cutting Class, Fashionista, and others to get up-to-date news and reports as they happen.
Internships & Apprenticeship Programs:
There are brands that offer internship and apprenticeship programs and are always looking for individuals to apply. Most apprenticeship programs are not free in Africa, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for brands and businesses that waive their fees as a form of giving back to their communities and training individuals who are interested in learning about fashion from design to branding and everything in between. You can also be innovative and reach out to possible brands and individuals that you feel will provide great knowledge and experience. Most might not need the extra hand, but you never know who would and accept to train you and teach you all you need to know.
Mentors & Coaches
Getting someone to mentor you or coach you is another excellent avenue to gaining the knowledge and skills you need. Be aware that time is precious, and individuals who are experts in their field within the fashion industry are very busy people, and time is very precious. Don’t be a time-waster. If you’re opportune to get someone willing to mentor and or coach you, always be on time to all meetings, be ready to learn and soak up every information and knowledge imparted to you. How do you get a mentor or coach? The best way is to email people you admire and know do what you’re interested in learning. Reach out to them and give them a clear and detailed message of how and what areas you seek mentorship or coaching. People are busy and can’t afford to spend a lot of time on people who don’t know what they want to do. Be clear and direct with your needs and if they can assist in any way, shape or form, they will get back to you and let you know.
Pinterest is a great tool to collect educational content and pin to inspirational boards that you can go back to. Pinterest has become more than just a pinboard. The platform has grown to great heights where creatives and brands are using it to create visibility and brand awareness, share industry knowledge and expertise, create resources for built communities, and highlight their community members and what they do. So use Pinterest to collect and collate educational information on the areas that you are interested in. Again, research is vital in knowing which creatives, brands and educational institutions to follow.
Museums, Galleries and Fairs:
Make it a habit to visit museums, galleries and art & fashion fairs. There are a few that give access to the public. There is so much to learn from the past that informs the present and future where museums are concerned. Delve into a world that can greatly inform you on the history of fashion that scales down to the present.
Volunteering your time, even once a week for brands with shopfront, will give you access to learning everything there is to learn about the business and operational running of a fashion business. You will also be fortunate to see how the brand leader leads the team to success in every aspect of the business. These are valuable information that can’t be accessible anywhere else.
At the end of the day, put everything you learn to practice. If you read from blogs, watch YouTube videos or fashion documentaries and films, put it to practice. You have the platforms available to start your blog, YouTube channel or Pinterest boards. Use them to practice what you learn, develop and grow. The more you put the skills acquired to use, the better you get. As you practice, seek guidance and feedback to enable you to improve and practice more in areas you are not that skilled at. Challenge yourself to create simple fashion items like handbags, shirts, skirts, etc. Practice is essential to developing your acquired knowledge and skills. With experience comes confidence, and you never know where that could lead. For fashion media and writing, do the same. Create a blog to practice writing for fashion. If photography, videography or other media jobs are of interest, don’t be afraid to apply the knowledge and skills by practising and developing those skills. No one can make you better but yourself, and you have to be willing to put in the work and the time to build and perfect your crafts and skills.