Making Fashion Education Relevant

Big Idea: TaylorMade Solutions™ (TMS) is a concierge-professional services firm focused on the US Fashion Industry – most specifically the growing number of university and college fashion departments that are struggling to remain competitive and relevant given the significant change in the fashion industry.

TMS’s managing partner, Stephanie Taylor, has more than twenty-five years of experience as an innovative and progressive educator and administrator in fashion schools in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Charlotte and Milan Italy. Prior to that, Ms. Taylor held merchandising and buying roles in lead retail establishments. In these assignments, Ms. Taylor established working relationships, professional connections, and a respected reputation as a facilitator, problem-solver, and catalyst in the fashion industry.

TMS specializes in connecting groundbreaking advice and recommendations to educators and retailers alike by leveraging their industry knowledge and established industry relationships. TMC provides a virtual bridge between fashion schools, their graduates, and a host of fashion industry businesses.

Opportunity: The fashion industry is now synonymous with rapid change. All aspects of this sector of our economy are challenged to be flexible, responsive, and innovative in their approaches to winning and maintaining customers. Four levels of the fashion industry; (1) designers, (2) manufacturers, (3) retailers, and (4) consumers, are adjusting to new technologies and market dynamics. These changes suggest that rapid change, agility, and responsiveness are essential elements of any successful fashion business strategy. Given this rapid change in the fashion industry, college programs need to adjust, improve, and update their approaches to teaching fashion students.

The retail fashion apparel and accessories industry is growing at a 4% annual rate. In the US alone, this industry generates in excess of $250 billion in sales and employees more than 4.3 million people each year. Fashion departments and specialized fashion schools in the US graduate more than 10,000 students annually with credentials in fashion design, merchandising and retail management. Unfortunately these graduates face an uphill battle in finding full time work in the industry or in pursuing entrepreneurial interests they may have. On average only 10% of recent graduates are able to find full time work in fashion. An even smaller percentage of young designers and fashion professionals (due to the lack of business training, unfamiliarity with business planning techniques, and lack of access to capital for start-up ventures) develop small businesses.

In both cases, the graduates and fashion industry businesses suffer due to the lack of resources dedicated to linking emerging skills and talent with existing and emerging opportunities.

Services: TMS provides a range of services designed to link specific resources with specific opportunities. These connections are built to satisfy the driving needs of each of four key stakeholder groups:

  1. Training Institutions: this includes colleges, universities, high schools, and technical schools with specialized departments or programs focused on fashion, design, merchandising, and/or retail management.

  2. Graduates and Professionals: this includes recent graduates or professionals in the fashion field who are seeking employment or new opportunities.

  3. Entrepreneurs: this includes fashion related individuals with specific business concepts that they are seeking to develop into viable businesses.

  4. Fashion Businesses: this includes established businesses that are seeking new retail product opportunities, new manufacturing opportunities, or new sourcing partners.

TMS for example, understands the special needs associated with transforming novel designs from sketches and ideas to commercially viable products. TMS strives to help young designers and manufacturers get a leg up in the fiercely competitive industry by making connections that lead to successful business relationships.

TMS also recognizes that training institutions, colleges and universities are challenged to increase their placements rates of graduates into meaningful, career-related jobs in industries directly related to the graduates’ course of study.

TMS is especially aware of the need for business planning support for entrepreneurs. TMS offers business planning, commercialization, and capital sourcing services for entrepreneurs who have products or services that show commercial promise.

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