16 April, 2021 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

TY Students Get Hands on With Fashion Buying

Fashion Buying and Merchandising Portobello Institute

Transition Year (TY) students from The Teresian School in Donnybrook have gained an exciting fashion buying qualification and forged new pathways for their futures through our Business of Fashion department. 

The Teresian School’s TY Co-Ordinator, Robert Mathews, set out to find ‘something tangible for later in life’ that the students could take with them.

After completing a fashion buying module which is part of our Fashion Buying and Merchandising course he said they are ‘absolutely thrilled’ with the delivery of the classes, what the students have learned and the increased interest in Business for the Leaving Cert.

This collaboration has not only taught the students about mood boards (pictured throughout this article) and the fashion industry, but it has nurtured their pathway to higher education by giving them the first hand experience of what it takes to complete a module to a third level standard.

“I think the idea of seeing the business side of fashion is huge, being able to see the work and thought that goes into setting up a boutique and laying out your shop, I don’t think any of them thought that much effort or work goes into it at all," Mr Mathews said. 

“The idea of cashflow projections was alien to many of them, the idea of developing prices and it not necessarily having to correlate as close to the cost production prices as they thought, Anne Marie showed them that if you are setting up a certain type of boutique customers will have a target price in mind based on the demographics that you’re tailoring to. They woke up to the idea that shops deliberately target a certain age group or certain gender or demographic in general.  

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Yesthere is a qualification involved which is fantastic, but to have that experience with professionals from outside of a school environment who work with people in fashion, to learn how this can help them progress on into a business world, that there are valuable careers in it and there is a lot they can get out of it if they want to. 

“Getting validation from a professional in a field that is not their regular teacher they see every day is huge because we can tell them that they’re brilliant till the cows come home but it’s the same old faces whereas having a professional come in and say you’ve actually done good work here and it is on par with higher education students is huge. 

We are absolutely thrilled with it. That is down to Anne Marie and her delivery in the classes, she is tremendous at what she is doing and makes it real and tangible for the girls.  

The idea of the qualification was essential and being able to achieve that is fantastic. For the girls showing them new ways of learning and showing them how they are going to be learning realistically when they are in college in two years’ time is brilliant,” he said. 

The Fashion Buying module was delivered by Business of Fashion Programme Manager at Portobello Institute, Anne Marie McAuley, who echoed the enjoyment of teaching this class and praised their ability to rise to the challenge of a higher standard of work. 

“The TY students were fantastic; they were very attentive in class and asked lots of questions and were really fun to teach.  

“The fashion buying module is challenging, and they all embraced the challenge with energy. Completing this course at their age exposes them to the opportunities that exist in fashion. At Portobello we offer ainclusive and dynamic methods of teaching, so the TY students were able to develop their self confidence in class with presentations and developing mood boards,” she said. 

Mr Mathews welcomed Portobello's approach to teaching people with mixed abilities.

"Anne Marie went out of her way to cater for mixed ability. Schools are big into mixed ability, but I think there might be slightly less of that with college because you need certain points or certain requirements to get into a course, everybody is at a certain level. 

We have students with all types of abilities, what you would call extremely capable students and others where something like maths might be a bit of a struggle and she went out of her way to make sure everybody felt appreciated, accommodated and able to do the work,” he added. 

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New Pathways  

This experience has encouraged many students to explore Business as a Leaving Cert subject now that they have gotten a taste for cashflows and how a business works, they see the diversity and potential to work in that area.  

"We had their subject options for Leaving Cert recently, parents had to sign up online to speak to whatever teacher. The business teacher was wall-to-wall nonstop the whole time with all the parents wanting to talk to her about the business course. 

“Business is a popular subject, it always is, but now you have almost everyone in the year knocking on the door of the business teaching going ‘Hi, can we talk to you about what’s on offer for the Leaving Cert?’. I don’t think you would have had the same level of interest if it wasn’t for a course like this showing how valuable it is.  

“Two students have come to say, without being asked or prompted by a teacher, fashion buying is something they want to look at after school for college and careers and they see a lot of value in it.  

“Some who were quieter students really got a lot out of being able to see the fashion element and really take ownership of how they appear to the world and not be restricted to what they are going in and buying because the others in my peer group are buying in the same stores.  

It’s a much more adult mindset you normally don’t see that with young people until they are in their 20’s in college and now they are getting exposed to that and taking action around that and expressing individuality in their own fashion,” he said.  

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What do the students say? 

“I have always had a huge interest in fashion and so when it was announced that we would be attending a fashion merchandising course I was ecstatic. The course definitely lived up to my high expectations. I loved every minute of it specifically trend forecasting. I personally got a huge amount of experience and insight into the world of fashion. Anne Marie was an amazing teacher, and her classes were always riveting. The assessments were hard at times, but they were always very interesting and enjoyable. I really loved this course and it definitely motivated me to fulfil my dreams of working in the fashion industry.” - TY Teresian Student, Maria
“I really loved the Fashion Buying course from Portobello Institute. It was incredibly interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. I had no idea what went on behind the scenes in the fashion world and this experience was a real insight into the hard work and creativity that goes into the designing and making of our clothes. It was also a lovely break from standard, everyday classes and I looked forward to it every week. It certainly was a challenge but in the best way possible and Anne Marie was always there to give you a hand when you needed it. The mood boards were my favourite aspect of the course. It was so fun to design collections of clothing and come up with ideas for fashion ranges. I also loved the presentation aspect. It was interesting to see other people’s ideas and share your own with the class. Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience, and I would recommend it to everyone.” - TY Teresian Student, Síofra 
“I have always been really interested in fashion and the opportunity to delve deeper with a professional guiding us was truly amazing. Anne Marie was so engaging during class and taught us so much over the few months - I really looked forward to each lesson. She made it really interesting and enjoyable to learn. The assignments we received were very creative and pushed us to develop our fashion merchandising skills. She has really opened my eyes to the vast world of fashion and all the potential careers I could pursue in this area.” - TY Teresian Student, Cosima 
“Personally, I very much enjoyed doing this course as I thought it was a different experience as it has not been touched on before in the school curriculum. I have had a keen interest in fashion from a young age so straight away I loved it. There were many areas in which this course overlapped with subjects such as business, home economics, art, and maths. We got to experience setting up a live business from start to finish using excel sheets for costings, budgeting, and advertising. I felt the course was of benefit as we now have this knowledge of the retail fashion business and what is involved in opening a shop/boutique. In the future myself and perhaps my classmates may set up a shop/boutique and will therefore have this knowledge. I also felt it was engaging as many of us have interest in retailing and merchandising (Zara, Penney’s, Topshop etc). I thought that the mood board was very interesting as you could come up with very broad ideas and then this would lead into your line of clothing.” TY Teresian Student, Johanna

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Get in Touch  

Do you have an idea for a TY group to complete a module at Portobello Institute? Or any group of people who are interested in gaining this valuable experience?  

We welcome any teachers, principals, career guidance counsellors, groups of students, TYs or otherwise to reach out to us about modules spanning any of our departments of interest to you with group rates available. 

Get in touch using our contact form here or give us a call 018920035.

Portobello Institute offers a range of courses from Early Years and SNA to Sport and Fashion. Register now for our virtual open evenings taking place next week from April 20 - April 22 here