The Global Fashion Concentration at Bunka Gakuen University is such a unique and wonderful journey. The course is very international, offering the chance to learn from instructors and peers with diverse backgrounds. The strength of the program lies in the chance to explore things that are special to Japan — including cultural traditions, field trips, exhibitions, and of course, the world-class fashion and retail industry. However, since it is a young program some challenges are to be expected. The biggest obstacles, personally, were cultural barriers and expectations; with limited guidance and support, the program is best suited to students with independent working styles and strong research/technical skills. That said, I had a great experience with the graduate project. My dissertation explored creativity and meaning-making through cultural heritage crafts; I had the pleasure of conducting fieldwork on location at a beautiful indigo plantation in the mountains of Kanagawa, learning from an indigo expert and working with participants from around the world. After completing the degree, I was hired as a senior trend analyst at a fashion forecasting firm in New York, consulting with major retail clients on fashion and consumer lifestyle trends in North and South America. The global experience and interdisciplinary knowledge gained at Bunka certainly gave me a strong competitive edge. In looking back, the two years spent in Tokyo was well worth it. It was a transformative experience, filled with new insights, unforgettable memories, and lifelong friendships. I would highly recommend the program to anyone looking for a memorable and one-of-a-kind fashion post-grad experience.
— Christine Wu, March 2017 graduate
I entered the Global Fashion Concentation master program at Bunka Gakuen University with the goal of proceeding to the PhD level under the supervision of Prof. Takagi. I came from an art historical background (with a major in Japanese Studies), so the course provided a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the practical part of fashion and its design through the program’s ideal of bridging theory with practice. The program was versatile, and was the perfect place for both students and teachers from different backgrounds and disciplines to gather and exchange knowledge, which made the whole experience so much richer. Furthermore, being able to speak and understand Japanese, I had the opportunity to participate in MA classes outside of the GFC program, which allowed me to experience the Bunka Gakuen grad school from different angles. It needs to be noted, however, that the program is still relatively young; there are still opportunities for growth and development. Nevertheless, it was the perfect environment for me to develop my research topic from an interdisciplinary angle. I wrote my dissertation on the topic of Art Nouveau promotion in kimono by the department store Mitsukoshi, a theme I later further developed during my PhD. While working on my MA research, I had the opportunity to do a curator internship at the National Art Center Tokyo from 2016 to 2017, where I assisted in the preparation of the Mucha 2017 exhibition and the development of the exhibition catalog. As an Art Nouveau specialist, this was beyond doubt a precious experience! After GFC, I continued to do my PhD at Bunka and was able to obtain my degree within the set three years, thanks to the extra time I could spend preparing during the GFC course. Upon graduation, I was offered a full-time position as Assistant Professor at Bunka Gakuen University. The academic and practical experience I gained through GFC gave me a competitive stance in a world that increasingly requires experience from multiple disciplines. Therefore, I recommend GFC to anyone who wants a stepping stone to expand their horizons for a future academic and/or creative path.
— Saskia Thoelen, March 2017 graduate
I studied at Bunka Gakuen University in 2016-2017, and was part of the first double degree promotion, with the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. This master’s degree between two programs, the Global Fashion Concentration and the ENSAD Fashion and Textile departments, gave me a wide and transversal view of what is the profession of a fashion designer nowadays. As a creative, GFC was a unique environment for experiencing different fields of fashion, from history to industry, from creation to product. During this year in Tokyo, I had the chance to work as an intern for the Japanese brand Aseedoncloüd, led by Kentaro Tamai, in which I collaborated on colors, textiles and garments details. For my second year of the double degree, I spent one year in ENSAD-Paris, designing my graduate collection entitled Hors-champ, infused with Japanese notes and philosophy. After graduating, I continued my path within fashion as an independent designer, and since two seasons, I design for Lemaire menswear collections, on jersey and print categories. I warmly thank the GFC program teachers for sharing me their passion for fashion, from both academic and artistic angles. If you look for a complete education for becoming a future fashion designer or head of creation, then Bunka-Ensad double degree is definitely for you!
— Adrien Testard, June 2018 graduate
Recent work by Adrien: https://us.lemaire.fr/pages/fw-the-shibori-print
After completing my BA Honours degree in Fashion Design at Edinburgh College of Art, I wanted to further my studies by doing an MA. Because my graduating collection was heavily inspired by Japanese culture, in particular by kimono construction, pattern, texture and print design, I decided to look for a Fashion Masters course in Japan. The Global Fashion Concentration course allowed me not only to carry on my fashion studies, but also to further my knowledge on Japanese culture, experience it first hand during lessons and workshops at the University and field trips. During the course I was able to attend lectures on kimono design, Japanese textile techniques, architecture, religion, tea ceremony and indigo dyeing workshops. The most rewarding of these experiences was the opportunity to work with weaving and jacquard factories in order to produce unique and personal fabrics for my graduating collection. Once the collection making process started, we also received design collection feedback from a teacher, who is also a fashion designer, through weekly tutorial sessions. Portfolio feedback was also available at a later stage. All of this support and insight from a professional was very rewarding. Furthermore, the course organised special presentations from industry guests, such as visiting professors from Art and Design institutions and design veterans from Yohji Yamamoto brand. Through this contact, I was able to intern at the Yohji Yamamoto atelier during holidays and term time alongside my studies, which has been an incredible once in a lifetime experience.
— Irene D’Antonio, March 2020 graduate
I am currently a second year student of this course, writing my thesis on Japanese Street Fashion in the media. Having a BA degree in Japanese and an interest in Japanese fashion led me to the Global Fashion Concentration course. I currently run an online magazine called The COMM, which provides a platform to creatives in the Japanese street fashion community to showcase their various talents. In doing so I’ve gained a lot of experience in creative direction, project management and the Japanese street fashion scene, but I felt I needed to further my learning of the Japanese fashion industry, and deepen my knowledge of fashion in general. Being on the Global Fashion Concentration course means I have access to a wealth of fashion related resources, my personal favourite being the library. The fact that I am able to access resources, and have classes, in English while simultaneously living abroad and experiencing another culture, makes the course unique. I have also been introduced to various areas of fashion aside from the theoretical, such as garment design and Japanese art and design, which provides me with a wider perspective of the fashion industry. This course has made me to think independently, research proactively, and push my creativity. Aside from the obvious academic knowledge, I am also honing valuable, practical skills that will be of use once I graduate. I hope to put these skills to use in order to continue my online magazine and pursue other creative fashion projects. I recommend this course for those wishing to get a taste of life in Japan, and explore their passion for fashion in a diverse and global setting.
— Chloé Michaud, current GFC student