FRA - First Term Fashion Fun, Grace Downs, Level 3 Fashion Retail Student

FRA First Term


My First Term at FRA, Grace Downs, Level 3 Fashion Retail StudentGraceful Couture

"So as many of you know from my about page, in September I began a new chapter in my educational life. Deciding that sixth form wasn’t for me and that I wasn’t happy studying English, Geography, Psychology and Media…blah, blah, blah. I applied for the Fashion Retail Academy, after realising that to be in the fashion industry is really what I wanted to do career wise. Although I have to admit, it was a long shot. This incredible college, opportunities, facilities and all, I was doubtful I would get in.

The time I visited the college was on the day of interview, funny enough, instantly I was so impressed. The interviewers were so lovely and we had a task to do, which didn’t feel like a task at all because I loved it so much, cutting high and high street fashion images out of magazines and finding information on River Island; what wasn’t to love! After this day I was even more excited and hopeful to come to this college, and then the letter arrived and I couldn’t wait until September.

Now I’m my first term in and I wanted to share some of my experiences, opinions and hopefully inspire some of you ambitious future fashionistas to come visit the college and maybe even apply in the future. First of all the building had a re-vamp over the summer and everything was spick and span, white and shiny and of course full of fashion inspiration. The classrooms for starters are truly state of the art with long white tables and american lecture desks as well. The canteen area is incredible as well, not your standard run of the mill school canteen. White long benches and tables with little vases and flowers and the food, healthy and delicious, the perfect combo. However my favourite thing about the interior of the college has got to be the library! Yes…I know what you’re thinking…the library, Grace Really? We never knew you were a geek! Well actually yes I can be…especially when it comes to a library full of books about fashion, shoes, designers, retailers, fashion business, fashion related DVD’s and a heaping stack of the best fashion magazines! All at the touch of your ID card! Now you can see why I get excited can’t you?

Now with regards to my actual college course…you know, what I’m actually there for…the work! The course is everything I dreamed it would be. My course that I do at the college is actually Level 3 Fashion Retail and Business which is essentially a little of everything in the business side of fashion. Although there are many courses available such as Fashion Design, Level 4 courses in Buying, Garment Technology, Visual Merchandising and many more, as well as a variety of short courses also. My course is split into four sections. Fashion Communication which is essentially communication skills for working in fashion, presenting, advertising etc and brand imaging as well as blogging and social media. Principles of Fashion which I have learnt a lot about retailers, PESTLE analysis, how stores are classified, how stores choose their locations and why as well as a recent project on Burberry and its history. Supply Chain which is about the process from designing the clothing to it being available in the store, how stores replenish their stock, technology systems used, customer habits etc. Last but not least Contextual Awareness which is about fashion trends throughout the decades and what factors affected the fashion trends of this era. With each of my lecturers being incredibly talented in their field, friendly and willing to help you in any way possible! Although coming from school it was a little odd learning to call my lecturers by their first name isn’t that right Mr McGrath…I mean Anthony? (who also writes an incredible and highly awarded men’s fashion blog, check it out, link at the end of the post)

Essentially this term what I have been doing is making a sketchbook with tasks I have completed in what I have learnt in each section displayed in a creative and interesting way. My decade pages are some of my favourites although it does require a lot of glueing, sticking, card, sparkles and pictures. It is all worth it when you have a stunning piece of work in front of you that you have created! As well creating tasks for the other sectors such as a presentation on a controversial fashion advertising campaign in front of the class, creating a digital advert for a brand, creating an infographic on the brand PESTLE analysis for Burberry as well as an interactive timeline on its history. Not to mentioning creating a magazine article on Oxford Street VS Carnaby Street, two of London’s most famous shopping locations. As well as of course blogging…which isn’t really work for me as you can imagine!

The only thing I will say about the FRA is that you have to be dedicated, motivated and ambitious. You cannot come in half-heartedly because it won’t be stood for. In order to create the level of work expected you have to be driven, willing and really passionate about Fashion and what you want to do. With lessons being from 9-5;30 in the centre of London, rush hour is a problem, train journeys are a problem, crowds are a problem but you get past that knowing you are coming to an amazing college,full of welcoming lecturers and people who want you to succeed. Although the college is only two days a week, there is a lot to cram in. I expected to be bored and having to get extra hours of my weekend job to fill my time but the work load surely will keep you going for the extra three days, making a sketchbook perfect now that takes time!

My first term of the FRA really has made me incredibly happy and I already feel like I have been there a lot longer than six weeks, with the amount of work I have achieved and created, all the friends I have made, all the exhibitions I have attended for inspiration and all of the coffee’s waking me up on the morning train!

The college is constantly having open days as well as having an incredible website for information so if this post has inspired you to let out your inner fashion business mind then do take the time to come down…who knows you might be in my place next year!


Anthony McGrath’s Blog –