Häme University of Applied Sciences offers a multidisciplinary study module called Global Fashion Business. The module is open to students of HAMK’s Business Administration, International Business and Smart and Sustainable Design degree programmes. In the summer of 2022, as part of the module implementation, an event called Fashion Day was organized, to which experts in international fashion trade from various organizations had been invited as visiting experts.
Perspectives on the different roles of the fashion business
Fashion Day was held on Friday, June 3rd at Stage in the Design Factory of Hämeenlinna University Centre. Some of the speakers attended the day live on campus and some online. The audience consisted of students and staff from the Global Fashion Business module. The first speaker of the day was Karri Jalkanen, who works as a project manager for Fashion Finland’s Fashion Trade Transformation project. Karri’s speech focused on the global change in the fashion world and the situation in the Finnish fashion organizations. Sofia Järnefelt, a freelancer designer and co-founder of the Hedvig Collection clothing brand, took the next turn. Sofia opened the field from a designer’s perspective and gave students tips about fashion trend forecasting.
After the lunch break, Fashion Day continued directly from Stockholm, when Nina Lindström, who works as a Business Controller at H&M group, shared her career story with the audience, which successfully combines the fashion industry and the commercial perspective. The last and thought-provoking performance of the day was given by Sari Kanti-Paul, owner of the Shadeshares sunglasses brand, who opened the story and values of her company to students.
Although all the speakers at Fashion Day represented very different roles and perspectives from the fashion world, the same unified trends were seen in the key takeaways of all the speakers. Here are three core messages from the day’s speeches:
- Ability to change and agility
- Networking and openness
- Digitalization and sustainability
Karri Jalkanen, the first speaker of the day, summed up one of the most important takeaways of the day: “love change”. From their own point of view, all the speakers emphasized the need for fashion brands to be able to change and agile to shape their operations in global competition and development. Brands shouldn’t stay still. Another key theme was the importance of networking, which should be remembered at both the personal and corporate ecosystem levels. When even a single Finnish fashion brand succeeds internationally, it always increases opportunities for others as well. The third core message combined two major themes: digitalization and sustainability. These are like a pair of radars: sustainability can be made visible digitally, and digitalization enables sustainability in business and design.
Guidelines for the future
At the end of the Fashion Day, the students and teachers of the module had a reflection discussion about the contents. All the speakers were appreciated, and the students found Fashion Day as an interesting addition to the module. The students said that they got inspiration for their studies, the project assignment of the module and guidelines for the future careers.
Some of the speakers of the day had a commercial background, while others had a design perspective on the fashion industry. The same is also intentionally visible in the background degree programmes of the students in the module. These two slightly different approaches sparked an interesting dialogue about what the needs and goals of the fashion industry are. The content of the day showed that an entity like the Global Fashion Business module has a clear place in developing students’ professional skills and future career readiness, but also in developing the entire Finnish fashion business.
Teachers of the Global Fashion Business module Anna Huoviala (Head of Degree Programmes in Design) and Ville Siipola (Senior Lecturer in Footwear Design)