Educating Fashion Designers for a Creative Economy

Amanda Bill

Senior Lecturer. Institute of Design for Industry and Environment.
College of Creative Arts. Massey University.
Wellington, New Zealand.


This paper discusses the future of fashion education in the context of near universal tertiary participation and new globalized, co-creative production systems that muddy the distinction between producer and consumer. This has implications for tertiary teaching and learning in countries where most young people expect to gain a degree and where creative, entrepreneurial work has high social status. In order to explain how these factors impact on fashion design education, the discussion draws upon post-structuralist ethnographic research into a ‘creativity explosion’ in New Zealand tertiary institutions in the years 2002–2006. Firstly I argue that neoliberalised education systems (and the way they are managed) generate skill shortages, while at the same time producing new types of flexible workers for a creative economy. Secondly I outline a model for tertiary fashion design education that takes into account the different needs of creative industry and the apparel manufacturing industry. This enables the links between these to be made explicit for fashion design students.