Mumbai: This was a no ordinary week at Whistling Woods International (WWI), as Asia’s premier Film, Communication and Creative Arts institute hosted back-to-back masterclasses on the fashion and retail industry. These exclusive sessions, which were part of the Career Week, served as the ideal showcase of the industry and saw both local and international industry veterans share their combined wisdom and experience with the enthralled students.
The first masterclass featured an interactive Q&A session with a panel of designers and brand managers from leading names of the nation’s fashion retail industry. Comprised of Mr. Raj Nagaonkar – Head of Design, Men’s Wear at Shoppers Stop; Ms. Sanghamitra Samaddar – Ex-Brand Manager, Pantaloons Fashion & Retail, Shoppers Stop, and Reliance Trends; Ms. Archana Panda, Business Head at Shoppers Stop, and Ms. Madhumita Datta, Chief Design at Future Retail India, the experts detailed the inner workings of the sector to the eager students. Among the key topics discussed, were efforts towards environmental sustainability, the importance of understanding both the business and design aspects of fashion, and industry expectations for freshers and interns.
Mr. Adrien Yakimov Roberts, International Director of Education at the Accademia Costume & Moda in Rome, Italy and International Trustee of Graduate Fashion Foundation, GFW, London, UK, subsequently brought a global perspective to the conversation during his masterclass and shared his views on portfolio enhancement and international career opportunities with the students. Over the course of the the session, he highlighted the importance of building emotional connections with one’s work and stressed the need to remain original over the course of the career. Describing his personal journey from being fashion student to a fashion designer, he shared, “You should learn every day. Research is the key to all success.”
The next masterclass explored the topics of contemporary design and illustration under the guidance of Mr. Akshat Bansal, the Creative Director of the ethical luxury clothing brand, Bloni. The guest began the session by outlining his vision of fashion as a force for change. He went on to emphasise the importance of creating designs that are accessible to everybody, for as he pointed out, “Fashion needs to be more than just dressing people and making rich people look better.” While describing the path to success in the industry, he stressed the need to have a plan for the future, and the key roles played by perseverance and luck. While ending the session, as a final word of advice, he said, “It is important to understand clothing when you wear it. Emotional value to the brand is super important. You need to touch the heart of the person when they are relating to it.”
The final masterclass of the tremendous week witnessed Mr. Kunal Vora, Co-Founder and Partner, ABND (branding agency), take to the stage. During the highly interactive session, the guest captured the imagination of his audience by walking them through various branding challenges and scenarios that tied into the fashion industry. After quizzing the students on their definition of branding and receiving a wide variety of answers, he provided his own definition, stating, “Branding is not a logo. A logo is a part of branding, influenced by people, PR, social media, news media, etc.” As he went on to explain, “Branding is more than a name and symbol. It’s like a child, you have to nurture it.”
As each of the insightful sessions ultimately reached their end, the guests were presented with tokens of appreciation by Mr. Jewellyn Alvares, HOD, School of Fashion Design amidst the applause of a packed auditorium.