A Catalyst in Fashion Education

Tanu Kashyap, IAS Director General at NIFT on the institution's commitment to staying at the forefront of fashion education through experiential learning opportunities

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Published: Fri 26 Jan 2024, 11:18 AM

Established in 1986, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) stands as the trailblazing institution for fashion education in India, consistently leading the way in providing professional human resource to the textile and apparel industry. Recognising its pivotal role, it attained statutory status in 2006 through an Act of the Indian Parliament, designating the President of India as its 'Visitor.' With fully developed campuses spanning the nation, NIFT has evolved into a cornerstone of fashion education.

As a premier institute in the realm of fashion education, NIFT has achieved a noteworthy global ranking, securing the 9th position among fashion institutes worldwide. With a widespread presence across India, NIFT boasts 18 campuses situated in various states, and includes four-year undergraduate programs across seven disciplines, two-year postgraduate programs in three fields, and comprehensive full-time and part-time doctoral programs catering to PhD scholars.

Excerpts from the interview:

How has NIFT adapted to the evolving landscape of the fashion industry in recent years?

NIFT has recently restructured its curriculum and adopted a format of majors, deepening specialisations, minors and general electives. The Interdisciplinary minors assist students to develop complementary skill-sets in order to design their individuated career pathways. General Electives allow co-curricular growth of students and assist in enhancing overall personality and soft skills. Increased industry interaction by way of classroom projects, internships, part transaction in the industry environment has strengthened the overall learning process.

How is NIFT fostering innovation and creativity among the students to stay at the forefront of fashion education?

Teaching at NIFT incorporates a cohesive, contextual and nurturing environment for learning. The emphasis is on self-motivated learning by using information, experience and practice. The pedagogy aims at using the inputs from core functional areas to inter-disciplinary issues and problem solving. Students undertake classroom and workshop assignments, conduct field observations, undertake visits to craft clusters, make presentations and participate in group discussions and seminars and are encouraged to develop industry linkages.

What steps is NIFT taking to ensure that its graduates are well-equipped to navigate and contribute to the global fashion landscape?

The NIFT curriculum is comprehensive, innovative, and adaptable to the ever-evolving fashion and textile industry. It endeavours to balance creativity with practical skills, preparing students for a wide range of careers in the world of fashion. Increased industry interaction by way of classroom projects, internships, and graduation projects strengthens the overall learning process of the students. Recently the Ministry of Textiles has taken a proactive step by constituting a Committee that will guide and implement strategies to upgrade NIFT and make it a truly global fashion school.

How does NIFT stay abreast of emerging trends in the fashion industry to ensure that its curriculum remains relevant?

The education programmes at NIFT are extensively integrated with fashion business. The intense and dynamic interaction between the industry and academics provides requisite insight and appreciation of business diktats. Internship and industry visits as well as live industry projects, seminars and interactions provide opportunities for students to appreciate and understand the working of the industry.

Furthermore, the consultancy projects are viewed as a dynamic opportunity for the faculty to share their specialised expertise, and for students to gain an invaluable learning experience. Participation of students in projects provides an opportunity for experiential learning, thus strengthening teaching and research activities.

How does NIFT envision the future of fashion in India and its role in shaping it?

India’s main strength lies in its wide repertoire of designs inspired from the rich craft traditions. The availability of skilful workers who can execute handcrafted techniques such as embroidery, appliqué, patchwork, block printing and other embellishments gives a competitive edge to India. The use of the design intellect of our brigade of talented NIFT designers coupled with optimum utilization of skilled manpower can definitely catapult India’s position in the global trade.

Any new courses or projects in the pipeline?

NIFT has received in principle approval from the Board of Governors to initiate 5 years integrated Masters Programme. The Institute is also planning to design new programmes in order to expand the domain vis à vis India’s strength. NIFT has undertaken many mega projects over the last five years. Few examples are Center of Excellence for Khadi (CoEK), under the Ministry of MSME to address the needs of the Khadi & Village Industries (KVIC) in India. The objective is to help Khadi Institutions (KIs) to effectively design, produce and market high quality differentiated khadi products in the Indian and global market. The Trend Insight and Forecasting Lab, is sanctioned by the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India under the Research & Development scheme to develop an Artificial Intelligence based deep learning model enabled to forecast fashion directions for India. The INDIAsize project sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India endeavours to develop standard body sizes for Indian apparel sector to address the prevailing disparities and inconsistencies in provided fits. The Repository of Indian Textiles and Crafts, vastrashilpakosh.in was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 7, National Handloom Day 2023. The project has been implemented by NIFT under the Craft Cluster Initiative of the NHDP programme of DC (Handlooms & Handicrafts).

— kushmita@khaleejtimes.com

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