YKK Initiatives for Students Seeking a Career in the Fashion Industry
Insufficient skills and talent to respond to changing times
In recent years, fashion industry needs have been diversifying as work on SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) has advanced.
The search for universal design solutions for persons with disabilities, which we introduced in Episode 8, is one such example. Moreover, there has recently been growing demand, especially from the millennial generation, that companies demonstrate sustainability and transparency in their organizations and supply chains.*1
As the environment in which the fashion industry works changes, new initiatives and approaches are being launched.
One example is 3D printer manufacturing. This technology not only reduces resource consumption in manufacturing plants, but also promises to cut energy usage through shorter manufacturing lead times.*2
Similarly, fabric material manufacturers are engaging in initiatives to ensure the reliability of traceability information through tamper-proof data created using blockchain technology.*3
But as the fashion industry takes on new initiatives, such as the use of digital and other kinds of technology, it is increasingly facing shortages of the requisite training and talented people with specialized knowledge.*4
In a global survey of major manufacturers and brands (2018), 63% of the respondents--representing people engaged in design, planning, merchandizing, sales, and other fields--replied that the lack of specialized skills and the difficulty of hiring people were problems.*5
In this context, and considering the future of fashion industry sustainability, it is obvious that the industry must have environments in which employees can acquire the appropriate experience and skills. But going beyond that, there is also a growing need for initiatives to develop future talent before hiring.*6
Forming partnerships to solve the issue
As the need grows to establish environments for the purpose of talent development, we are seeing successful examples of companies undertaking initiatives for students who want a career in the fashion industry.
At the London College of Fashion (LCF) in England, an initiative has been launched in which students can participate in Microsoft projects. The students receive instruction from specialists while interacting with cutting-edge technology such as AI and IoT, and thus are able to develop their digital awareness and skills.*7
As an example of the results, a number of ideas for the future of the fashion industry were presented at the Degree Show, including one in which the life cycle of clothing was measured by embedding RFID yarn in the fabric.
Denmark's Design School Kolding encourages students to participate in paid internships and to join projects. As well, the school supports students looking for a career in the fashion industry by building networks that connect freelance designers and by creating collaborations between graduates and current students.*8
One more example is Germany's AMD Academy of Fashion and Design, which emphasizes making points of contact with the fashion industry at early stages, and works on student development not just through internships, but with involvement in research programs that involve fashion companies and cultural institutions.*9
YKK initiatives for students seeking a career in the fashion industry
YKK also runs initiatives around the world to address shortages in talent and skills.
In 2017, YKK Metal ve Plastik Urunleri Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. ran a project to create fashion items using YKK® zippers together with students from Okan University.*10
The project provided students the opportunity to express their creativity, and won acclaim from people involved in the fashion industry when the created items were displayed at the company.
Europe and surrounding regions, where Okan University is located, are faced with immigration issues, increasingly mobile workforces, and high unemployment. Against this background, students need to acquire skills in order to find work, and we are tackling this issue in cooperation with the university.
2015 saw the opening of the YKK London Showroom*11, in London, England.
The showroom hosts diverse events, including exhibitions of works from International Graduate Fashion Week*12, a fashion design competition for students that YKK has been cooperating with since 2017. Through such events, students and industry participants are provided with a venue for expression and the opportunity to network.
In the United States, YKK has been supporting the Arts of Fashion Foundation since 2007. The Arts of Fashion Foundation is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to fostering international cultural exchange through the creation of a variety of educational programs meant to facilitate critical thinking and advance the field of fashion among artists, designers, scholars and students.
In Japan, the home of our headquarters, we have been hosting the YKK Fastening Awards*13 since 2001. This fashion design contest focuses on fastening products and is open to students aiming to become designers.
Many students from fashion schools in Japan have entered the contest, and of those who have had that experience, many now work in the fashion industry as business partners of YKK.
Meanwhile in China, YKK has been helping to support student development since 2003 through our sponsorship of fashion shows at Donghua University, famous for its apparel design programs.
In addition, we founded Craft Lab by YKK*14 where visitors can learn about the history and construction of our products. Staff members at Craft Lab by YKK engage in a range of work, including holding lectures at design schools.
Through our business and products, we believe that our responsibilities include providing opportunities to young people who want to work in the fashion industry to learn and display their creativity, to support the talent that will drive our industry going forward, and to make the fashion industry even more appealing to young people.