PK Gera, DG, NIFT: “Focus on loopholes of fashion edu”

WITH all pride, Prem Kumar Gera, Director General of NIFT says, “My institute offers the cheapest fashion education in the country.” When you raise the issue of fashion institutes mushrooming in the country, he questions the quality of their presence in the market. “These small institutes will have simple sewing machines with no quality of faculty to teach students,” he retorts.


Q. How will you differentiate NIFT from emerging fashion institutes in India? 
A. With 15 campuses in India, NIFT provides cheapest fashion education in the country. Initially some capital was given by the government, but gradually it has withdrawn from all kinds of support. IIT still gets Rs. 400 crores, but we don’t get a single penny. We are managing everything through fees. Unlike private institutes like Pearl Academy which costs bomb, NIFT fee is Rs. 10,000 per year and total gross fee is roughly 1, 40,000.

We give holistic education in fashion. Students come here with fantastic sense of art. The selection is on the basis of their creative skills. We provide all-encompassing knowledge on fashion and design, be it apparel, textile design, knit wear, accessories design.  We have a wonderful programme on craft cluster visit. Our students spend 6-10 days to various craft origin places in the country. The NIFT students document what they learn from craft communities. This intervention helps them to improve and modify their own design.   

The fashion design course of NIFT is primarily skilled building course. Since abroad doesn’t recognize diploma, NIFT replaced diploma into 4 year Bachelor’s of Design degree on various specialization – apparel, textile design, knit wear, accessories design. 

Q. What are the loopholes in the dissemination of fashion education in India?  
A. The loopholes in fashion education are that we need to set some kind of standardization. Today anybody has the audacity to open fashion education shop with just 10,000 to 5,000 square feet space. These small institutes will have simple sewing machines with no quality faculty to teach students. Fashion & design is not simple tailoring business. It’s about sense of color, history of art and how the subject evolved. The reach of fashion education in the country should be supported by quality.  We are not regulated by AICTE, but earnestly there should be a body to regulate fashion education. I have told many of the fashion institutes that why don’t we organize a national federation of fashion technology institute?  This kind of national federation will set standardization and give recognition. Just like medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy council, there is a dire need of fashion council?
I believe that every state should have fashion institute. We are in the process of mentoring fashion institutes like Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT, Mohali), School of Fashion technology (SOFT), Pune.

Q. Often fashion studies are correlated to elite class. Is it true? How will you assess the participation of girls over boys?     
A. Our great alumni Sabyasachi, Samant chauhan were not rich before showcasing their talent to market. In majority, all those students who got immense popularity are men. Ironical, we have more girls more than boys. They are high as 75% against 22% boys. The major problem is that after graduation most girls get engaged in domesticity. They move into their comfort zone and by the time they come out market is not lucrative enough. There is cut-throat competition in the fashion and glamour industry.  The key to survive in this industry is good networking.   

Q. Why some designs fail to get patents?
Patenting a design is very challenging as getting it registered in India at least take two years. Courts take a long time, so we need reforms. Can we have separate patent acts or courts? The gestation period is too long. In India, if rights gets respected the research will automatically increase.  In India the ideas must get value. If they know that what they produce will be copied by someone else then very few people will be motivated.

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