BoF Global Institutions List lacks Global Insight

The Business of Fashion published a ranking of the top 21 undergraduate and the top 10 graduate fashion programs in the world.  And to a large extent, it was a no-brainer.

The list published by BoF is not surprising given their top schools list has graduates with the most recognizable names in the industry. So basically we could have listed the top designer brands by revenue, taken the names of each of their creative directors and then listed their graduating university.  No real formula needed.

Oh, and surprise surprise, London universities dominate the BoF lists. (I’ll give you one guess where BoF was founded.)

Back to business:

The BoF review evaluated each program against three factors:

  • Global Influence  The global reputation and influence of a school by survey of industry professionals and HR professionals around the world, assessment of the selection process of admitting applicants, and analysis of the finalists from 6 prestigious international fashion prizes.
  • Learning Experience — Evaluation of students experience while in school by survey of their satisfaction with the caliber of fellow students and the quality of the lessons and resources available at the institution.
  • Long-term Value — Assessment of student preparedness for the real world, based on student graduation rates and assessment of student satisfaction about employment opportunities, careers preparedness and access to alumni.
Top Schools Breakdown

Unfortunately the quantifiable metrics for this ranking lack depth which is disappointing because this list could be of great value to future generations of fashion designers.

The interview by Barbara Franchin of the International Talent Support gave a more thoughtful ranking of fashion institutions on the global market and unsurprisingly was much more inclusive of GLOBAL institutions.

The fact is many new self-taught designers are reaching the new generations but at a whole new level, especially if comparing influential designers like KTZ (Central Saint Martins graduate) to new designers like Gypsy Sport & Hood By Air (self-taught designers). I mention this because designers have begun to shy away from big fashion universities because they do not feel supported properly. This too was revealed in the BoF research and yet these institutions still made top 5 rankings.  This goes to show that there isn’t a “one size fits all” design school and that the BoF criteria may be too institution-centric.

Hood By Air by self-taught designer Shayne Oliver
Hood By Air by self-taught designer Shayne Oliver

I am a big fan of BoF but I do not understand what the end goal is for this list.  Who will benefit from it? What is the take-away for an investor or a budding designer?

I only hope that in the future they take lists such as these with more care than survey’s of industry and HR professionals and “prestigious” international prize holders.

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