Jun 06, 2012 3:41PM

Billy Blue's Branded Fashion Course

Won't turn you into an Olsen twin but will make you good at fashion.

This week, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen took out the CFDA Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year with their label The Row. Being a genetic anomaly and having hundreds of millions of dollars has undoubtedly aided their success, but you too could be the next 'I'm kind of a big deal' in fashion. Billy Blue's Bachelor Degree in Branded Fashion won't give you a twin, but it will hook you up with mad skills to be able to design AND make cash money.

Dr Mieke Leppens saw a gap in local fashion education, so developed the course. She noticed that the Australian fashion industry is mostly made up of high street kind of stuff (think Topshop and ASOS) who need a certain type of designer — "someone who designs quite fast, is a cool hunter, and who picks up on trends very quickly." These kinds of designers earn between $100,000 — $130,000 with a few years of experience under their belts, so the Branded Fashion course is all about setting you up to enter these kinds of careers by embracing graphic design, fast fashion and costing.

The course will not only teach you the practical skills from technical garment construction to production, but it will also teach you all the equally important bits about the integrity, positioning and marketing of your label. Tumblr fiends will rejoice, as social media and keeping up with the internet also plays a big part in the course.

We went along to the open day, caught up with Mieke, and got all inspired up in there.

Tahlia Phillips: From a branding perspective, can you give me one or two labels whose branding is really unique?
Mieke Leppens: Well, the high street fashion label would be Gucci. I think that’s a true brand, rather than just a design label. Here in Australia, I would say a strong brand would be Sass & Bide, or it would be Ksubi. But they are different, one is street and one is more about young creators.

Any favourite fashion quotes or pearls of wisdom?
A favourite fashion quote would always be Coco Chanel. It’s about how you always stand on the shoulders of the person that came before you. So, originality belongs to no one, you always stand on someone elses shoulders.

Who are your two favourite Australian designers?
I love Ellery a lot. I know Kym and I love her work a lot. For me, she is really very creative. But I don’t see her as a brand, she is a designer. The next one I admire is Ksubi, because they’re such a clever, with-it label. They’re branders, and I think that’s great.

If you had $20,000 to spend on one item of clothing, what would you buy?
Oh my god! On one item of clothing? $20,000? It probably would be a vintage item. And it would probably be Balenciaga. In actual fact, it would be a vintage Balenciaga gown.

Ingrid Kesa

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