Ask Alexandra: Last Month’s Mailbag

Ask Alexandra is my advice column. Have a question you want to ask me? Fill out the form here. Below are a few letters I’ve received recently that I thought I should answer…

Ask Alexandra, advice column, fashion school, start your own fashion brand, fashion courses

Scotch & Soda menswear.

Dear Alexandra,

I’m looking to start a t-shirt line for men using the best possible fabrics available on the market. I live in Los Angeles, CA but the best fabrics I’ve seen are from foreign brands such as Scotch & Soda and other UK brands. Where would I be able to get the same or close to the same quality of fabric the UK designers use on their clothing. If you have other info on Scotch & Soda and their manufacturing process that would be very helpful as well. Thanks!

Dear James,

This is meant to be an advice column on general fashion queries, not a specific sourcing and manufacturing helpline. So no, I can’t tell you about Scotch & Soda’s suppliers or manufacturing process (although I can assume that they are similar to most other manufacturing processes), and the fact that you are asking me this question raises concerns about how much you know about the garment industry… I’m also suspicious of “best possible fabrics on the market…” Anyway, I don’t encourage people who have no fashion industry experience to start their own brands, but if you insist (or perhaps you have experience?), then I would suggest you read up on how to source fabrics (I’ve got some info here) and be prepared to face a lot of frustration because sourcing suppliers for a new fashion company is no easy task! (It’s a hard task for me, and I have industry experience.) And by the way, Scotch & Soda is based in Amsterdam, not the UK…

Ask Alexandra, advice column, fashion school, start your own fashion brand, fashion courses

London – looks great from the outside but those mouldy, overpriced apartments aren’t so fun…

Hello, Alexandra!

It’s and old dream of mine to study at CSM, but only now in my late late 30’s I can go to London to really dedicate myself to what I like most: fashion. What kind of advise would you give me? How should I start living my dream?

Hi Mariana,

Start the same way as everyone else: put together a portfolio, apply to schools, and pray you get into a good one! The downside of being a mature student in London is that slumming it in an expensive city is much less fun once you are over the age of 25. But hopefully your adult years have resulted in a nice chunk of savings and maybe you’ll have enough to be able to afford a decent flat when you get to London (unlike the leaking, freezing apartments we lived in.) And as for applications, I’m under the impression that mature students have a slightly better chance of getting in because there are less of you applying and more likely to be successful graduates since you’ve had a lot more time than most  to figure out what you want to do. And one more thing – London is a great city to be in your thirties and fourties and party! It is definitely the least ageist city I have ever lived in. I wish you the best of luck!

Ask Alexandra, advice column, fashion school, start your own fashion brand, fashion courses

The campus at SCAD. Looks nice!

Dear Alexandra,

I am applying for SCAD’s MFA Program in Luxury and Fashion Management. I have no prior experience in this field. I need help with portfolio making.

Dear V,

It boggles the mind that you (and many other people that contact me) think that you can get into an MA without the necessary qualifications. Would you apply for an MA in Chemistry without a BA in science? No. So let me clarify – fashion is a specialized field, it is not one that you can just waltz into because you want to (unless you are a celebrity or a daughter of a rock star, if that is the case, you can sadly do whatever the hell you want.)

That said, maybe you have a BA in finance and that might make you eligible to apply to the MFA you speak about. If so, I suggest you start by improving your communication skills. Don’t write a letter to someone asking them for help, without any specifics on the help you need (or even an explanation of what you need to do! A portfolio? That could mean a lot of things!) And secondly, learn to read instructions. Mine clearly state that I only answer general questions on this column, not specific ones where I help a student (whom I know nothing about, since you only wrote me a 2 line email) make a portfolio (whose requirements I do not know) for an application to a specialized course. Sorry! If you have a question that more than 5 readers can relate to – then feel free to send it over! And best of luck.

London images from here.

  • R.S

    Lol evidently some people haven’t read the previous post. Before I got into my college I prayed that they’d consider me. When I had completed my foundation, I prayed they’d let me onto the BA course that I chose. All through my first internship interview I prayed they’d be willing to take a chance on me. I can’t imagine ever thinking I could sail through anything just like that. (I got everything I wanted in the end, though)
    Maybe I’m just not that talented, or maybe some people really, really need a reality check. Read this blog carefully! It’s taught me a lot.

  • R.S.

    Or if you are interested read this trashy book called Fashion Babylon/Material Girl (it’s been re-titled for some reason) by Imogen Edwards Jones. Low-brow but it’s actually quite relevant when it talks about the basics of production and the fashion cycle. Beware of tons of name-dropping and characters who say daaaahling a lot though. You’ve been warned.

  • Allison P

    I love you! That is all.

  • jaspy

    oo sounds GREAT!