Published: 26th June 2019
Fashion and all that jazz: WHy NITTEFTID is the place to be
Dr Sandhya Ravi, Principal, Nitte School of Fashion Technology and Interior Design about the new techniques they are implementing in order to make fashion more sustainable and eco-friendly
Fashion is not just wearing designer clothes and walking on the ramp or posing for pictures. It takes a lot of effort, creativity, time and patience from the fashion designer to design clothes. Nitte School of Fashion Technology and Interior Design (NITTEFTID) have truly been inculcating these skills that a fashion designer would require to make garments look unique and eco-friendly. From starting with six students to today, admitting over 40 students for their degree programme, the institute has come a long way. This wouldn’t have been possible without skilled staff members and a principal like Sandhya Ravi. Sandhya says, "India has been a hub for fashion and it will continue to be the same in the future. We will need skilled and sensible fashion designers who can really make an impact on society. And I think our institute is on its way to nurturing such people."
Excerpts from the charged interview:
Tell us about the journey of this institute.
Nitte School of Fashion Technology and Interior Design started in 2016 with an idea to provide quality education, job skills and real-time experience to make students employable after their graduation. Also, an Interior Design branch did not exist in Bangalore University. Professor N R Shetty discussed the idea with the registrar and we started the degree course in Interior Design. In fact, we were the first ones to launch a degree programme in Interior Design whereas other institutes only offered a diploma course. My journey started in 1999 when Bangalore University launched the course in Fashion Technology for the first time. I was part of the core committee that designed the curriculum and since then, we have grown tremendously in this field.
What changes have you observed in the curriculum from 1999 to 2019?
I think we have brought in a lot of changes in the curriculum and have made it more challenging and practically oriented in terms of projects and internships because that is how students are going to gain knowledge. Apart from this, we have started to offer more subjects like Environmental Sustainability, Eco-friendly Dyeing, Recycling of Clothes and so on. In the realm of recycling denim, we want our students to learn how to alter an old piece of cloth and give a unique look to it. We believe that preparedness should be imbibed among students when it comes to environmental concerns and issues.
Practical learning: Interior Design or Fashion Technology involve more number of practical classes than theory classes at NITTEFTID
Take us through the three-year degree programme in Fashion Technology.
In the first year of their degree programme, students learn about the many varieties of fibre and fabrics. It is essential for fashion designers to know the behaviour of fibre because sometimes, manufacturers blend varieties of fibres like cotton with silk, polyester, modal fibre and so on. They must know the ratio in which they can blend the fibre. Only then, the students can be confident about designing garments like bridal wear, beach wear or casual wear. These days, people also look at colour combination, aesthetics, comfort based on the region they are from and season.
In the second year, students learn the art of making and designing garments. They learn the nuances of how it is manufactured on a large scale and cost of the material. They also learn about how to design clothes when it needs to be custom-made for individuals. Students are also taught draping styles which is the current trend when it comes to fashion garments across the world. In draping, the amount of fabric that flows is very high. So we teach them how to minimise it, whether to do on-grain or off-grain.
In the final year, students have to complete an internship in different companies and work with fashion designers. It is a 45-day internship programme and based on their learning and the problems that they encounter, they submit a project. During their last semester, they submit a portfolio which depicts their interest. For example, a student can design a garment where they use the Mexican colour combination in Indian patterned dresses. Mexican dresses are bright and flowery and combining them with our Indian style makes the garment look unique. The students have to design five wearable garments and one non-wearable garment out of plastic, leaves, newspaper and other such materials. When they do these portfolios, they study about the fibre and colour combinations of other countries too.
Our students have interned in companies like Arvind, Madura Fashion and Lifestyle, Texport Overseas and others. They have also worked with famous fashion designers like Krishna Mani, Deepika Govind and Namrata G.
Tell us about the academic achievements of the college.
When we started the programme in 2016, we only had six students. Today, we have over 40 students who opt for our degree programme. It has been only three years since we started, but we are doing good academically. The total aggregate marks of the students stand at a CGPA of 9.7 which clearly shows that we are academically strong. Apart from this, we have participated in various national-level fashions shows. We have bagged the first prize for three years consecutively in the handloom category of the show organised by the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology. Similarly, our students have been designing garments using handlooms and showcasing them at various exhibitions and competitions.
What is the ratio of boys and girls in the Fashion Technology programme?
This course is not just for girls. The ratio of girls and boys is 50:50 and I have observed that boys sketch better than girls. The garments and designs that boys make are bolder than what girls make. They are open-minded and always wants to design something exclusively for the red carpet. Our students are working on designing clothes for the LGBTQIA+ community which will be out soon.
Students' strength: Around 40 students have taken up BSc in Fashion and Apparel Design at NITTEFTID
How do you integrate fashion and technology?
We are introducing students to new methods of dyeing clothes and lot of eco-friendly techniques instead of synthetic dyes. Since our college is located in the outskirts of Bengaluru, surrounded by forests, we are conducting research on testing natural dyes obtained from tree barks and leaves. More than anything else, we are looking for advanced procedures to design the same cloth in different sizes in a short period of time. We are also bringing in 64-bit embroidery machine in our college which will help us make different motifs and use varied colours on clothes. This will also help us save time.
Have you introduced any new courses lately?
Yes, we have launched a new course in Fashion Communication in Journalism. This course was launched specially to train students in writing about lifestyle and clothing in the media industry. If you have trained manpower, then it becomes easy for them to write for common people about textiles and how one can build an image around clothing.
Which companies have come forward to hire students from your institute?
This time, we had Marks & Spencer, Jaquar and an interior design firm called Aakruthi. These companies deal with sanitary ware, electric appliances, but they hired our students to project and market their products creatively. We have also approached Asian Paints, Shahi Exports and Arvind, who have also shown their interest in hiring young students from our institute.
Towards Sustainability: The college is conducting a research on various natural colours to avoid synthetic colours on the clothes
Do you conduct workshops for students?
Apart from classes, workshops play a key role for students who are pursuing a degree in fashion. Last time, we conducted eight workshops for our students. Among all of them, the workshop by the Toda tribe from Nilgiris was noteworthy as our students learnt their kind of embroidery. We have also conducted a workshop on Banjara embroidery and terracotta jewellery which is also called green gold. At the end of the workshops, our students were able to sell the products that they created.
For the interior design students, we organised workshops on glass etching, glass painting, lampshade-making and more. This year, we will hold lampshade-making classes using artificial leather. By doing all this, we are trying to bring in different and innovative methods by using eco-friendly products like palm leaves and corn fibre.
Are there any outreach programmes that you conduct for women?
Yes, we conduct several outreach programmes for women living in the surrounding areas of our institute. We conducted a Sewing Machine Operators course for six months during which we taught them how to stitch blouses, salwars and dresses. This course helped them earn money and support their families in rural areas. We were happy to make a positive impact on villagers in Mylappanahalli. In future, we will be conducting many such programmes that are women-oriented.
While BSc in Fashion and Apparel Design is a three-year course, while the diploma programme is a one-year course. Will the students who pursue the latter match up to the skills of degree pass outs?
We started diploma especially for students who want to get into jobs soon or they weren’t able to clear class X or XII exams. Such students continue to stay idle. In order to bridge this gap and help them use their creative skills, diploma in Fashion and Apparel Design was started. From the past three years, we are seeing a good number of students taking up this course too.