Fanshawe Fashion: How far can fashion take you?

Header image for the article Fanshawe Fashion: How far can fashion take you? Credit: ILHAN ADEN
Explore Emma Anderson's creative journey though fashion as a recent grad turned Fanshawe employee.

The first moment I was paid to piece together an outfit was in a retail setting. I will never forget the sense of accomplishment and creative fulfillment I felt in that moment; from then on, I was hooked.

I let it simmer in the back of mind as I pursued other interests in school, but nothing felt better than the excitement from styling and merchandising. I began to reconsider my then program of study while planning my career in retail.

I started climbing the ranks within the fashion retail world, trying to make my mark. It was during my luxury retail days I had a chance encounter that forever changed my trajectory with fashion.

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A professor of fashion marketing and management was an out-oftown regular long before my start date. Eventually, I began assisting her, as our clientele was small but loyal. We started talking about life; slowly, my aspirations outside of work dominated our conversation. I mentioned my interest in pursuing fashion through the academic route since I amassed quite a bit of retail experience already.

I was met with kind but patronizing eyes. She placed her hand on my shoulder, tilting her head slightly to the right, as though I was a child who did not know any better. She told me I should stick to wearing cute outfits, it isn’t worth pursuing and it would be too competitive for me. Those words pierced through my fashion loving heart rendering me lost and astray from my then “perfect” plan.

I let her words get to me. Even after in-depth research as to what a career in fashion would look like with academic accreditation, I couldn’t shake the impression this professor had left on me.

Truth be told, it was a blessing in disguise.

Her words allowed me to forge my own path and nurture all parts of my creativity, not just the fashion side. My personal creative journey has expanded beyond the realms of what school could teach me. It also taught me not to care what others have to say about my goals, dreams and aspirations.

Still, I sometimes wonder how far fashion could have taken me if I went the academic route vs. my own personal creative journey. Luckily, I have this column to explore just that thought.

This is my inspiration for this edition of Fanshawe Fashion.

Let’s explore where fashion can take you through one student turned Fanshawe employee’s creative journey.

Emma Anderson

Creativity and fashion go hand in hand for Emma Anderson. With both her parents heavily involved in the ‘80s punk scene, Anderson’s style mixes the old with the new.

“I’m not the craziest dresser by any means [and] I don’t just buy the same [thing]. I’m not afraid to try different things and I think that’s telling. I’ve always loved fashion and I’ve always found it to be the best way to express myself. It’s the best way to show my creativity,” Anderson said.

Having experienced a year of university, Anderson quickly realized the lecture and self-study structure was not for her. With a preference for hands on work, Fanshawe was her best fit. Graduating from the fashion marketing and management program in 2017, she continued with marketing, receiving a post-grad in marketing management.

Today, Anderson serves as the technologist for the fashion management and marketing program, acting as a support and liaison for faculty and students.

Although her current job does not leave much time for passion projects, she seeks creative fulfillment through other means.

“I love helping students with projects because it brings me back to being in the creative sphere. It’s still nice to be in that space where creative things are happening all the time. I find it’s really inspiring,” she said.

Her fearlessness in trying new creative outlets continues to expand her artistic craft.

Coming to Fanshawe with a love of photography, Anderson had the chance to hone her interest through her program. This allowed her to explore and expand her interest in fashion, spearheading her curiosity of silk screen-printing.

“I like finding new projects all the time and learning new things in the creative world,” she said.

Prior to her academic pursuit of fashion, Anderson knew very little about the industry.

“I never was really into high fashion before [but] learning all sides of the trade has opened my eyes and made me really appreciative of all sides of the industry.”

With an imperative need to love her job, Anderson is determined to use her acquired skills in the world of fashion. Like most young recent grads, she is currently trying to find where she best fits.

“I could be happy in the small business sector, but I could be happy in a head office for a major fashion corporation. Really, it could go either way,” she said gleefully.

Widening her scope of the industry through her academic career, Anderson hopes to utilize a newly added program for graduates of fashion marketing and management. It is a one-year program in the UK giving students an opportunity to enhance their knowledge while networking in larger fashion circles. With visits to Paris and Milan Fashion Week along with additional elite fashion events, this will be a dream come true for Anderson. Upon its completion, she would receive a degree in fashion communication.

When asked for advice for those interested in pursuing a career in fashion, Anderson was full of insight.

“When it comes to the schooling, it was a great place for me to start my career in fashion. It really has made me feel like I do fit in this industry. I don’t think you have to go to school to be successful [but] it’s great to [build] a business mindset. I do think if [fashion] is a part of who you are and something you want to pursue, go for it, even if it’s a side hustle! I think it’s super rewarding bringing new fresh [ideas] into the world.”