We recently sat down with Donald Potard, Chair of Fashion to get his take on the future of fashion. He sees a revolution coming and gave us his insight into how it will manifest, and what skills fashion designers will need to succeed in this new era.
What is happening in the fashion industry today?
The fashion industry moves very quickly: there is a revolution every ten years. The two previous ones were in fashion distribution (90s) and marketing (2000s). Today, a new pattern is emerging. Fast fashion and over-marketed products are not going to last for long; the public is getting tired of “normcore” fashion and basic products being worn every day by too many people. There is a strong and growing demand for innovation and for the newest and most interesting products.
How can you predict the direction fashion is going to take?
Fashion is sociology: it reflects not only the way people want to dress but also how they think and behave. The best researchers in fashion and sociology are able to predict a brand-new area and field of research for the near future. We are preparing students to face this next revolution.
How would you describe upcoming fashion revolution?
It is clear that it will come from technology. For example, when Joseph-Marie Jacquard invented the first earliest programmable loom (the “Jacquard loom”), in Lyon in 1801, nobody anticipated that it would change the whole way people would dress for the next two centuries — in addition to playing an important role in the development of other programmable machines, such as computers. Soon 3D printing, intelligent and micro-encapsulated textiles and connected garments will become part of our daily lives. We will prepare our students for this evolution.
What kind of challenges will the industry face in the upcoming decades?
With the arrival of new technology, the whole business of fashion is going to be rethought. Designers and other fashion professionals will grapple with questions such as: Is this the end of ready-to-wear as we know it? If mass-customization becomes the norm, how will distribution be affected? Will we still need shops or only show rooms? Are dressmaking salons (or e-dressmaking salons) going to be the future of retail? What is the future of e-distribution? In this program, we will work with experts in the field to confront and find creative answers to all of these questions.
Why is Paris the best place to learn these fashion skills and techniques?
France is an industry leader in cosmetotextiles (Lytess) as well as technology companies (Lectra, Dassault system) and robotics. Furthermore, since the XVII century France has been a leader in luxury products and haute couture, excelling in both creativity and know-how (i.e. technique). French fashion and luxury represent 25% of the world’s total luxury business, with a turnover of 50 Billion euros per year (80% exported), making France the largest actor in the industry.
In Paris, we are able to combine both traditional and technological expertise in order to pave the way to not only create new couture but to improve mass customization, both of which are going to influence creativity and distribution in the near future. Moreover, Paris is a wonderful place for arts and culture. There are 137 museums, including two fashion museums as well as fashion exhibitions all year round in different venues throughout the city. Finally, Paris is the only place in the world to host 6 Fashion Weeks per year (Haute Couture, Women’s Ready-to-Wear and Men’s Ready-to-Wear).
How would you describe PCA MA in Fashion: Haute Couture | Haute Technology and what makes it unique?
The Masters in Fashion: Haute Couture | Haute Technology prepares students to confront the newest trends in fashion regarding style, technology and distribution.
Who are the teachers of the Fashion MA program?
The faculty at PCA is recruited from among designers and engineers who are experts in fashion and technology. They have worked to create new fabrics, new shapes, and/or new computer programs. They have all graduated from the best design schools, and the lead teacher is Elisabeth de Senneville, a famous designer and recognized specialist in utilizing new technologies in fashion design. We insist on the fact that all faculty members are also working professionals in the field, ensuring that they are always up to date on the latest trends and technology.
Who is the ideal student for this program? What are the prerequisites to apply?
The program is open to any student who has successfully completed an undergraduate degree (BFA, BA, BSc, BID, BArch, etc.) with a studio component, or has acquired basic technical skills (fashion drawing, design, flat and 3D,) through other educational or professional experiences. Students’ technical skills and creative potential will be evaluated through their portfolio and interview.
What makes PCA the ideal place to launch this MA?
PCA is the only art school in Paris founded on a multidisciplinary approach; whether for BAs, BFAs, and now our Master’s programs. There is a dynamism that is generated when students from the different departments collaborate that emulates the reality of working in the world of design. For example, in Fashion Design we will collaborate with the MA in Fashion Film & Photography and MA in Accessory Design departments to bring in prestigious guests for workshops and lectures, providing a global overview of all fashion fields.
What are the professional prospects for students who complete this program?
The demand for designers with these new skills, who can master the latest techniques, is rapidly increasing every year. The PCA Fashion MA program prepares students for these future jobs in fashion — as fashion designer with the cutting edge skills, for modern couture and ready-to-wear houses. The program we offer at PCA is unique, far ahead of what is being taught elsewhere. Upon completing this program the future will be yours!