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The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, KADK, is an educational art institution in Copen- hagen first established in 1754. Since 2011, KADK has provided educational courses in architecture, design and conservation. The academy is located close to Copenhagen’s harbour, in buildings that once housed the Danish navy.

Photography Chris Calmer
Josefine Gjortsvang Dyring, a fashion design student at KADK, is in the third year of her bachelors’ degree. The decision to pursue a fashion career came naturally, having engaged in creative projects ever since she could remember. She long wanted to feel challenged and achieve a higher level of creativity, so being accepted to KADK was a dream of hers.

Are you happy with your time at the school so far?

— In general I am really pleased with the education, I keep developing from project to project. We have great and experienced teachers, who themselves have been working as designers for many years; it gives us a lot of knowledge about the industry.

Gjortsvang Dyring is interested in making clothes that hold relevance for others. This is an aspect of design that the school helps her to accomplish, thanks to the teachers’ regular use of theory. It can feel unnecessary, but ends up giving projects more meaning.

What are your personal goals as a fashion designer?

— To make clothes that people fall in love with, feel good wearing and never want to lose. I don’t want to be a part of the mass production of clothing we don’t need. I think I’ll consider not working in the commercial end of the industry, and that we will see more brands in the future that don’t follow the ”seasons”, but make their own timeline.

If you envision a more sustainable model, what would it look like?

— Envision a world without physical stores, but instead showrooms. In that way we could de- crease the production and maybe educate consumers to have more patience and to consider every buy, and stop the impulsive buyer behaviour. People need to get more knowledge about sustainability, and what our way of consuming effects the industry and planet. But I am not sure if the designer can achieve that goal. As designers we need to focus more on the materials we use and where the production takes place.

Mathias Brochorst is another student at the KADK academy, and is in his final and fifth year of a masters’ degree in fashion design. He’s always been drawn to expressing himself through fashion and how it can be a form of communication between strangers, like a language where the vocabulary is constantly expanding.

Have your expectations of fashion education changed since you started studying?

— Initially, I was curious and really wanted to learn, I didn’t have any knowledge on methods and techniques. School helped me understand these aspects, encouraging me to further develop my own ways of doing things. I’ve learned which techniques to utilise when, which help me reach the best results in specific situations. I’m quite satisfied with the way I’ve been taught, and I couldn’t dream of a better workspace. We also have the opportunity to interact with other workshops, like wood and metal.

Is there something specific you want to learn more about?

— During my time in school I’ve had the chance to develop my creative skills and expand my network. But to be honest, economy, business strategies and the whole communication side of the industry aren’t my strongest forces. Learning more about this while avoiding becoming a business school would’ve been beneficial.

Have you found your own identity as a fashion designer?

— The space between the identities we carry, personal or professional, are interconnected, so to truly try and describe one’s identity as a designer can be difficult, or possibly even counterproductive. But my hope is that the outcome of my work can be identified and recognised and pinned to me as someone with a specific identity.

What are your thoughts of the part of the fashion industry that include press, buyers, bloggers and influencers?

— There is no doubt that they have a certain impact on the fashion industry, and they are an important and great tool to deliver a message. But it is also important to use them wisely so that the message is delivered rightfully and in the right context.

Ann Merete Ohrt was once a student at KADK herself, completing a four-year BA degree from KADKS former School of Arts and Crafts, and a MA degree in design. Today, she is the Head of MA Fashion Design within the institute of Architecture and Design. After more than a decade as senior fashion designer in the Danish fashion house ”Margit Brandt”, Ann Merete decided to use her experience to become an educator of fashion students, seeing it as the most interesting, inspiring and rewarding way to work in fashion.

What's your definition of fashion?

— Fashion is communication; it is a language that communicates identity, time, and culture. Fashion is the storytelling through garments, a form of expression without words and a way to express your identity. Fashion is also a big business, much too fast paced, and we must therefore educate young designers to be both very talented fashion designers and game changers of the fashion system. At KADK, fashion theory plays a big role, and students are introduced to it from their very first semester of a bachelors’ degree. The fashion education is built on three legs: professional practice, artistic research and academic research. Around 25 percent of the programme is academic studies, and KADK thinks that practice and research goes hand in hand with strengthening the students’ practice-based design work.

What qualifications are requires for a successful fashion career, and how do you work at KADK to meet these requirements?

— It is our goal to educate strong individual fashion designers who also have a strong personal artistic voice, and who knows their craft and are confident in making their own decisions. We try to educate critical designers who understand that they can make a change in a design team, in terms of focusing on materials, quality, longer lasting design, re-use, re-purpose, local X global production. The young generation is concerned and generally very interested in sustainability, and all students have to relate their work to the UN Global Development Goals. KADK collaborates with the fashion industry for students’ projects, and all students intern abroad or in Denmark for about 4–6 months as part of their studies. Latest industry collaborations include brands as By Malene Birger, Wood Wood and Designers Remix as well as Christobal Balenciaga Museum and Archives in Spain, and bigger fashion industry events such as Copenhagen Fashion Week.

How do you work with fashion in relation to art? Are they always connected?

— We discuss the relationship between art and fashion a lot and how we can address artistic development in our criticism. Personally, I think that fashion should have an artistic approach in order to be relevant and interesting, and not just endless, indifferent products.

What do you think the future of fashion education will look like?

— As mentioned earlier — fashion has to change. In my opinion, we have to change fashion education in order to educate fashion students who are critical and prepared to take on the task of changing the game of fashion. I think we can all agree that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. The industry is producing too many low quality garments, and the working conditions are often bad, and wages low etc. Produce less — pollute less — consume less — re-purpose. Pay more — buy quality — use longer — re-purpose. Designing fashion with care, quality and originality.