Fashion education as it is known in the Netherlands and other European countries has just started to take shape in Turkey. Many designers that work in fashion are graduates of the local universities that have departments of fashion design or textile design.
Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts is one of the most reputable schools in Turkey. Many successful designers of the Turkish fashion scene today are graduates of Mimar Sinan University.
Istanbul Technical University has a faculty of textile technologies and design where fashion design is taught. Education, training and R & D activities of the Fashion Design Department are in the framework of cooperation between Istanbul Technical University and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT, New York) under the New York State University (SUNY). Accordingly, students accepted to the named department continue their education for 5 terms (first year fall-spring terms, second year fall term, third year fall-spring terms) in Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul and the last 4 academic term in FIT at New York. (Second year, spring-summer terms; forth year, fall-spring terms) They graduate with a diploma including the approval of both institutions. 30 students are accepted to this department each year, teaching language is English. Students who graduate from this department have work permits for one year in the United States.
According to unconfirmed data, there are sixteen universities and two academies (Lasalle International and IMA, Istanbul Fashion Academy) that teach fashion and fashion design in Turkey. Out of sixteen only four have a four year programme, like ITU in Istanbul, others run two year training programmes that can be classified under vocational higher education programmes. So far there are no Master programmes in Fashion and fashion management.
From discussions with Turkish designers who studied abroad it transpires that they enjoy the conceptual project based approach and the freedom to experiment in the European schools of fashion. Turkish system is more authoritarian, more technical and too dependent on test results.
Growing demand for fashion education and its importance for the national economy has spurred growth of private fashion education institutions.
Lasalle International Academy was the first to open in Istanbul in the 90-s and has been very successful since. The school has a very intimate, family style of teaching and interacting with students. The language of instruction is English.
Selim Cecen, the director, is a passionate industry visionary focused on teaching the business of fashion. Through well established links with the industry the graduates are either placed in the partner companies or start their own businesses.
Selim Cecen is very keen on establishing contacts with Dutch educational institutions. He expressed great interest in developing projects that could benefit students and promote exchange and interaction. As he pointed out “here at Lasalle we make decisions very fast, we do not wait for approval from the top”.
IMA, Istanbul Moda Academi, was founded as part of the Fashion and Textile Cluster Project, financed by the European Union, Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade and Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Associations (İTKİB). Academy’s aim is to contribute to the development of the Turkish textile and apparel industry. İMA commenced its educational programs at the beginning of 2008 with courses in fashion design, fashion product development and technology, fashion photography and media, fashion management and marketing in collaboration with the world’s leading fashion schools: London College of Fashion, Domus Academy (Italy), and IFM (France). The staff consists of foreign and local trainers who train fashion professionals of the future through professional development programs and academic programmes focusing on the industry.
Esmod Istanbul, the world oldest fashion school, will open its doors to Turkish students in September 2010. It is joining the international network of 21 other ESMOD schools from around the globe where students are trained with the unique “French expertise” to become future designers in their country. It will start with a three year programme in fashion design. Nadine Massoud, Esmod’s Director, has a long term vision for the school, and believes that Turkey has great potential in design and creation. “Local designers have impressive technical skills and savoir faire what they need is discipline, organisation and openness”, she point out. She sees poor language skills as one of the major obstacles for internationalisation of Turkish fashion. Since the language of instruction at Esmod is English, Esmod considers running language courses to help students cope with the curriculum.
Nadine Massoud, school’s director, is enthusiastically inclined to potential collaboration with Dutch Fashion schools. She admits to being a fan of Dutch design and fashion school.