He founded thePearl Academy of Fashion (PAF)in 1993, with just 47 students. Today the institute is ranked as one of the leading private fashion schools in the country with campuses in India and abroad. Tairah Firdous talks to Dr. A.K. NAIR about the trends in fashion education and the upcoming international conference scheduled to be held in Jaipur in March.
The hot seat: Dr. A.K. Nair sat down to answer some questions about fashion education
How has fashion emerged as an academic discipline over the years in India?
For many years, fashion industry in India was in Cut, Make and Trim (CMT) phase, but now we have entered into creating and consuming phase. There is a high demand for highly skilled and creative professionals, which requires an advanced and updated educational system that fits the requirements of the industry.
What are the different courses that PAF offers, especially the specialised ones, and do you offer any scholarships for students?
PAF offers nine bachelors programmes in addition to Masters and diploma in Design (Fashion and Textile) and Fashion Marketing. Students who top the entrance test will get a full tuition waiver for the degree programme.
How much exposure does a candidate receive to get ready for the real world?
Fashion education is industry driven; it has to be practical experience and that is what we offer at PAF. Besides class room knowledge, PAF has made it compulsory for students to either do a project with a company under the supervision of a faculty member or participate in an exchange programme abroad in 25 universities that we have collaborations with.
How significant is the upcoming conference by the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes in Jaipur?
IFFTI conference brings together celebrated designers, style gurus and fashion educators from across the globe. It is an effective platform to network with people from the fashion industry. Leading names in fashion like Yohji Yamamoto, Romeo Gigli, Simon Lock, Jeffry Aronsson and Manish Arora will attend the event.
The changing mindset of the Indian consumer has brought about an expansion in the retail sector locally, nationally and internationally. This is likely to generate large-scale job opportunities in the near future.
With this in mind, a certificate course in fashion retail management has been designed by IIM-Ahmedabad. The areas covered in the course include overview of retail, store operations, visual merchandising, retail selling skills, inventory control, business analysis, loyalty programme, fashion product knowledge and IT, among others.
Pearl Academy of Fashion (PAF), has partnered with IIM (Ahmedabad) and Shoppers Stop to start this course. Tarun Panwar, head of department, retail, PAF, says, We would like to keep pace with the change and train people with the right skills who can direct and accelerate this growth and take retailing to the next level of evolution.
After nine months of classroom training, students would undergo a paid nine-month on-the-job training (OJT) programme at any of the Shoppers Stop outlets across the country.
The duration of the course is 18 months and there are 25 seats for the course. As to how the course will help students, Panwar elaborates that the skill-set that students acquire during this course coupled with onthe-job training will make them ready for any sales and marketing profile, even outside the retail sector.
This will help students explore sectors such as hospitality management, infrastructure management and marketing and sales, to name a few, he explains.