For nine Media Arts students, life in the tertiary lane has left a desirable lasting impression – one that can be carried close through the remainder of their studies and beyond. Aspiring creative Emma Ayson visited Thailand from July 2-10, alongside eight fellow course-mates and two tutors, as part of the Bachelor of Media Arts Fashion Design pilot pathway. Wintec’s partnership with the Thailand Institute of Fashion Research (UTK) opened the door to their study tour, which showed them how the Eastern fashion industry operates and introduced them to a scale of factories and practices foreign to New Zealand soil.
Emma recently spoke with us about what the trip entailed, the ways in which it’s changed her perception of the fashion industry, and how it’s helped to shape her desired career pathway.
How was the daily itinerary organised? Did you all have to stick to a busy schedule from day one, or was it quite relaxed?
Our days were pretty jam-packed – we would meet in the lobby most mornings around 8am, jump on the bus, and wouldn’t return until after 6pm. For the first couple of days we had a schedule to stick to because we were visiting factories, but toward the end of the trip, it was more relaxed.
Were you based in Bangkok for the majority of the trip? What other destinations did you visit in Thailand? Which was your personal favourite and why?
For the majority of the trip we were based in Bangkok, but for the more touristy side of things, we travelled a little out of the city. On one of our last days, after we had visited all the factories, we went to Ayutthaya where we rode elephants and visited the Wan Mahathat, which is an ancient Buddhist temple. Personally, I just loved the whole thing – being immersed in the culture.
I just loved the whole thing – being immersed in the culture.
Tell me about the factories and other fashion-related destinations you visited throughout the trip – what stood out to you most and why?
We visited factories that specialised in lingerie, men’s shirts and leather, shirts, woven textiles, and traditional-style silk. We also went to a fabric market, garment manufacturers sourcing expo, the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACICT), and an indigo dying workshop and trend forecasting class at UTK.
One of my favourite parts would have to be the Thai textile visit, as we got to see how the fabric was made from beginning to end, from raw cotton to woven fabric. It was such an amazing opportunity to see this as we don’t have anything like it in New Zealand.
Did your initial expectations of the trip differ a lot from the actual experience you got? If so, how?
A major thing that stood out to me would be the hospitality from UTK. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about travelling to a foreign country, but we had students from UTK with us everywhere we went. They made sure we were safe, helped us with anything we needed, and we just great company. I don’t think our Thailand trip would have been as great an experience if it wasn’t for them – and from it we have gained awesome friendships. We had students from UTK with us everywhere we went. They made sure we were safe, helped us with anything we needed, and we just great company. I don’t think our Thailand trip would have been as great an experience if it wasn’t for them – and from it we have gained awesome friendships.
What has the trip taught you about the fashion industry? Has it changed the way you perceive it, and how you intend to use your degree career-wise?
I’ve learned that the fashion industry is a lot bigger than I thought. The international side of it has a very big outcome on the fashion world, and I have probably only seen a small part of it. I know I have a lot more to see and learn. In terms of my future career, I have gained knowledge about the industry that I can use for my benefit, to help grow my career. I’ve learned that the fashion industry is a lot bigger than I thought. The international side of it has a very big outcome on the fashion world, and I have probably only seen a small part of it. I know I have a lot more to see and learn.
What was it like coming from a Western society, with predominantly westernised fashion norms, and entering an eastern one? What were the similarities and differences that stood out to you?
I have a newfound love for Eastern fashion. They are not afraid to play around and manipulate design to create interesting shapes and silhouettes. Many Thai women take a lot of pride in their appearance.
A slight difference I noticed was, in the bathrooms, the women weren’t ashamed of checking themselves out and spending time in front of the mirror to maintain their appearance. In New Zealand, women don’t tend to do the type of appearance maintenance I saw in Thailand, in public view.
Did you know what to expect in terms of Thailand’s manufacturing conditions/practices and general fashion culture? Did anything shock or surprise you?
We were told the factories we would be visiting were nicely run, and they were. From what I could see, the staff were well looked after and the work spaces were clean and tidy. Something that I was surprised about was that WACOAL (the lingerie company) are very environmentally friendly.
Do you feel your own perception of the fashion world has been diversified by this experience? How so?
The trip has definitely opened my mind to the sheer scale of opportunities that come with working internationally.
What pathway in the fashion industry do you intend to take? Do you see yourself working nationally or internationally in the future? Has the trip influenced this?
Eventually, I would like to have and run my own fashion label. I can see myself working with international businesses – this trip has helped me see that there are more design opportunities overseas, as they have the tools, equipment and scale that we simply don’t have in New Zealand.
What’s the main thing you’ve learned from this experience, in relation to your studies?
I’ve learned that there are a lot more opportunities out there than I once thought.
Emma would like to give a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in making the trip possible, and we would like to thank Emma for sharing her experience with us.
Head to our website to find out more about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts, Fashion Design.