FBI – Australia’s first college to offer Fashion Business – has been providing flexible and part-time training for over 20 years. The private college and registered training organisation delivers fully government accredited and nationally recognised qualifications at both Certificate IV and Diploma level. There is an option to focus on Business or Design or to study a combination of course. FBI has produced some of the Australian Fashion Industry’s most successful and hardworking Designers, Publicists, Stylists, Marketers and Buyers. With FBI, fashion is possible.
Do students require any pre requisite knowledge before they start?
We accept students over the age of 18 with a HSC or equivalent. A keen interest in the Fashion industry is a must. In saying that, everything else is taught from scratch. The business course scope covers a mixture of relevant and skills-based subjects. The certificate IV business modules include subjects such as Fashion Styling, Buying, Journalism, Visual Merchandising, PR and Marketing. Students enrolled into the Diploma then move onto advanced modules in these areas.
Our design courses have a strong focus on construction and it is a requirement that 80% of a student’s final collection be manufactured by the student themselves. We believe that to be a successful designer you need to know how to produce a collection from the ground up, in order to be able to convey that to manufacturers once your business (hopefully) makes that stage! This means that students are guided through the entire design process, beginning with Fashion History and eventually constructing their own collection, presented on the runway at our annual parade and graduation.
Do the teachers at FBI help develop the own person style of their students – or is the course design requirements heavily influenced by a set curriculum?
The course requirements meet Australian government standards in order for us to provide accredited courses – this means that we address all competencies under the relevant qualifications.
However students at FBI are definitely given the freedom to weave their own personality and style into all of the work that they do by choosing how to present information and how to respond to the briefs they are given. Even our business modules have distinct elements of creativity – students are asked to create mood boards, design magazine layouts, create influential press kits and put together proposals for fashion events among other things. We acknowledge the individuality of all of our students and there is ample opportunity for students to harness their creativity and develop their own style throughout their studies whether in business or design.
What are the facilities like at FBI?
FBI is set in a beautiful terrace style building in Glebe – the centre of Student activity in Sydney. Initially we occupied just one level of the premises when we opened in 1994, but have since taken over the whole building and the premises next door – the iconic, heritage listed Glebe post office building. The high ceilings and natural light provide the perfect space for our design studio. There is a light filled business studio equipped with state of the art smart boards, a computer room with 18 brand new MAC computers, a Styling Studio with industry standard equipment and a comfortable student common room. We also have our own retail store Chariot stocking merchandise entirely designed by FBI Students.
Does FBI help to engage students in the practical aspects of the industry with work experience and intern opportunities?
On the job Workplace training is an integral aspect of all courses at FBI – each week there is in excess of 100 Students out on Workplace Training. We have a long held history of a successful careers department having assisting in placing over 1200 Students into roles within the industry since we introduced the department in 1998. The careers department comprises both our positions vacant and workplace training programs. We have witnessed the growth of this particular aspect of the industry and therefore understand its significance better than anyone. Sixteen years ago we noted the need for tertiary educators to ensure students are industry conscious by providing opportunities for workplace training and we really paved the way in terms of workplace training. We have spent years fostering strong relationships with companies in order to be able to provide students with the best opportunities.
Tell us about the work place opportunities you offer?
Students have the opportunity to assist at a number of amazing companies within varied markets. We have FBI students at magazines be it in the fashion or editorial departments, assisting on photo shoots, involved in the production of major fashion events, at PR and fashion agencies, with Australia’s best designers and within all areas of head office departments – including but definitely not limited to PR and Marketing, wholesale, dispatch, buying, operations and production.
Tell us about the application process, when can students apply?
We accept applications throughout the year, however positions are limited. Potential candidates must complete an online application which includes a fashion industry knowledge test. This demonstrates to us the passion for and interest in the industry which is absolutely essential. Candidates have the benefit of completing this in their own time so can really think about the answers to tough questions such as ‘Who is your favourite designer and why?’ Candidates are then invited into the college to sit for an interview. Given that we send a lot of our students out into the industry for job and workplace training opportunities, we want to make certain that all students of FBI have a strong work ethic and are able to maintain a standard of professionalism. If you are successful in your interview, you are then able to start classes immediately and begin chasing your dreams.
What differentiates your institution from others on the market?
FBI was the first college in Australia to offer education in Fashion Business, introduced in 1994. Initially there was a stigma surrounding a career in Fashion and a belief that the only career option was to be a Fashion Designer (and to an extent there still is!). In reality Fashion is a global industry with countless career options, as with any other thriving industry. We are currently the only institution in Australia offering fully government accredited and nationally recognised courses specifically in Fashion Business. We are also a Registered Training organisation.
Having been around for 20 year now, we have a stellar reputation and have established strong industry connections.
An aspect of the College that really stands out to students when they first begin studying at FBI is how different the atmosphere is to some larger institutions. There is a real community spirit and we aspire to know not only each student’s name but their story and their career goals and the steps required to take them there.
For those who aren’t sure if Fashion is for them, would you recommend one of your workshops?
Yes, definitely. We offer a fantastic Styling workshop which is an amazing insight into the styling and magazines side of the industry. We have recently had Mandy Shadforth of popular blog Oracle Fox act as creative director and assist Students with styling to a brief. This all takes place in our fully equipped styling studio on campus with a professional photographer and model, simulating a real day on set. Students walk away with quality images they can start to build into their portfolio.
We also run one-day Design and Business workshops that provide a glimpse into what it is like to study these fields. People who are unsure if fashion is for them can experience a day in the life of a Student at FBI. Even if they decide fashion is not for them, they walk away with essential skills that can be applied to other career options.