It’s kick-started the careers of Badlands blogger Talisa Sutton and Gary Pepper Girl’s Nicole Warne and is often touted as one of the top global fashion schools – but what is it about FBI Fashion College that sees its students being put on the map of a notoriously difficult-to-crack industry each year?
To find out, we spoke to founder Selena Marzuran – who opened the college in 1994 after rising through the ranks at David Jones as their youngest ever buyer. Here, she tells us about past students, how digital has changed the fashion industry, and key career lessons for bloggers.
Can you tell me a bit about the concept behind FBI?
There was no dedicated fashion business school, so there was a market niche. I started with offering courses in fashion business subjects – Fashion Marketing and PR, Fashion Styling, Fashion Buying, Fashion Journalism and Fashion Events and it just grew from there.
Why did you originally decide to launch the college?
Whilst there was a lot on offer for fashion design, there was no education on the business perspective, which is such an integral part of the industry. We needed to educate the future generation.
Did you ever imagine it would be the success it is today?
No, I just followed my heart and am so happy with it!
What do you offer courses in and how long does each run for?
We offer courses in Fashion Business and Fashion Design. A combination of both is a perfect match! Courses range from six months to four years in duration. All courses are part-time and flexible for busy people and allow them to keep part time jobs or internships while studying. They can also take advantage of the vast internships and workplace training programs we organise through the FBI Careers Agency.
You’ve been ranked as one of the top 50 fashion schools in the world. What makes FBI stand-out from its competitors?
Longevity. I think it’s important in fashion and education for people to see that you’re not going anywhere. We have seen some major fashion and education businesses close down in the last decade. It’s pertinent that your customers know that their time, effort and money have been invested wisely. It also comes down to quality – we have ensured that everything we do is implemented with professional precision which is shown in our results as we have now placed almost 1500 students into fashion jobs.
What have been some of the college’s key highlights?
Each year we expand and grow into bigger and better spaces for our students to share and create. Seeing students progress through the fashion industry and learning of their success is so rewarding.
How has the industry changed since you first launch FBI?
It’s really day-and-night – the change has been huge. There was no such thing as bloggers or social media influencers in the beginning, and now the nature of fashion marketing and PR is mostly online. In the beginning, I literally had to beg companies to take on students for workplace training as it was such a new concept, now companies know the value of taking on students and training them. We have an average of 80 students working with fashion companies each week.
Who are some of the students you’ve had through and what have they done with their career?
- Gary Bigeni: Designer
- Brent Wilson: Designer
- Nicole Warne: Fashion blogger
- Charlotte Stokes: Stylist and creative director
- Talisa Sutton: Influencer/fashion blogger
- Jules Sebastian: Stylist
- Dan Jones: Designer
- Heather Cairns: Stylist
- Chloe Hill: Stylist and fashion market editor, Oyster Magazine
- Jessica Discipio: Founder BIG INK Magazine
- Ashleigh Leech: Founding partner Luxe Duo
- Ilona Hamer: Fashion director, Unconditional Magazine and co-founder, Matteau Swim
- Lauren Jones: Buying consultant
The past few years has seen you add a fashion blogging module. Why was there a need for this?
The rise and rise of digital is everything! You need to evolve and keep up with what is happening, otherwise yourself and your students get left behind.
What is included in this module?
How to equip yourself for a career in blogging and all things social media/digital.
What benefits do bloggers get from attending the college rather than gaining hands-on experience?
It gives them the skills they need to do it and also the confidence to know that they can do it – along with the backing from the college!
You’ve helped teach key Australian bloggers such as Nicole Warne and Talisa Sutton. Could you tell right from the start they were going to be successful?
Yes I did. They are both very smart and impressive young women. Their success is a testament to their natural brilliance.
What are key take-outs from the course that you have seen these top bloggers adopting?
Competence and understanding of the machinations of blogging. Also, I think 50 per cent of success in the fashion industry is the belief that YOU CAN DO IT. The teachers at FBI instil confidence.
What’s next for FBI?
We are currently looking at a second FBI headquarters. Stay tuned!