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Negotiating an Elite Fashion Design Education: an Autoethnographic Study

In this PhD research project, I utilise autobiographical narratives which present my lived experiences as a school pupil, fashion design student, professional designer and academic lecturer. These texts are complemented by library research around key figures and situations relating to the narratives. Fashion education raises issues of power relations and cultural differences in both academic delivery and professional practice. Autoethnography has assisted me in investigating the role of ‘self’ in fashion education at elite institutions and in the fashion industry, offering insights into the experiences of being an Asian student studying art and design at UK universities.

The methods that underpin this research are evocative autoethnography and discourse analysis. I have selected a mixed-method approach as this has enabled me to integrate subjective and objective data in order to examine the key issues that arise for Eastern learners experiencing Western fashion design education. The narratives describe critical moments within industry settings and educational learning in higher education studio contexts in London and Taipei. The inclusion of contextual information, primarily from fashion journalism and educational texts, has helped to contextualise these narratives and relate the personal experiences they contain to wider social frames.

The analysis is built on two key theoretical concepts: Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital and symbolic violence and Foucault’s concept of power. I have utilised binary frameworks: teaching versus learning, professional versus amateur, and success versus failure in order to draw out some initial insights. This examination leads to the consideration of a key question: what do Asian students need from UK fashion education providers? This reflective exercise explores the implications of the initial interrogations of the autoethnographic narratives and demonstrates the wider relevance of these findings. Finally, the study provides some insights and reflections into the role of the pedagogical practice of power within fashion education and the fashion industry and how the cultural differences identified in the study impact on Asian students’ learning in the UK fashion education system.

Keywords: autoethnography, narrative, fashion design, fashion education, power.


More about Yu Lun Eve

Yu Lun Eve Lin is completing her PhD in Arts & Humanities at RCA focusing on the dynamic interaction between fashion education and industry seen through the perspective of power and symbolic violence in international fashion design pedagogies. She became a fashion entrepreneur after graduating from Central St. Martins BA and MA 2004–9, selected as Taiwan NewGen Designer in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

She has received the Red Dot design award in 2014 (by publication)and 2018 (by Educational) for her illustration works. She was formerly a design consultant for Asia-based TEXMA Corp. and has taught fashion design in London, Shih Chien in Taipei, FIT in New York and in China. She is the author of Practice of Fashion Drawing, which is one of Taiwan’s national textbooks for fashion courses and used throughout Taiwan's vocational high schools. She is also a resident columnist for CACAO art and design online magazine. She is a fashion lecturer and a Year 2 leader in Fashion Design and Development (BA) at London College of Fashion.

Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, UAL, 2018

PGCert Academic Practice, University of the Arts London

MA Fashion Design Womenswear, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, 2009

BA Fashion Design Womenswear, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, 2007

Fashion Design Lecturer and Year 2 leader, FDD (BA), London College of Fashion, London, 2019–present

Visiting Lecturer, MA Textile and EAP, Royal College of Art, 2019-2020

Visiting Lecturer, MA Fashion Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 2017

Fashion Design Associate Lecturer, FDD (BA), London College of Fashion, London, 2017–19

Fashion Design Tutor, Artscom, Short courses, London College of Fashion, London, 2015–18

Senior Lecturer, Shih Chien University, Taipei, 2010–15

Founder/Designer, Eve. Lin design studio, Taichung, 2010–18

Design consultant, TEXMA corp, Taipei, 2014–15

Design consultant, Def.it Denim, Taipei, 2013–14

Red Dot Award, Education Illustration, 2018

Red Dot Award, Publication Illustration, 2014

Chinese Costume National Design Award, First Prize and best-skilled award, 2002

Red Dot Award, Red Dot Design Museum Taipei, Taiwan, 2015

"Back to 18", Nominated by ELLE Taiwan as top Asian NEW GEN designer, ATT 4 Fun, Taipei, 22nd July 2014

"All About Eve" Fashion Exhibition, Eslite Book Store, Taipei, Taiwan, Sep 2014

"Beyond" Womenswear/Menswear Collection with Taiwan Textile Federation, Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, September 2013

Paper Fold Fabric, Taichung Culture Centre, Taichung, Taiwan, 2013

"The girl who still worries too much" Illustration exhibition, Eslite Book Store, Taipei. May-June 2013

"Beyond" SS Collection, Shanghai textile expo, Shanghai, April 2013

"Pause" Menswear Collection, Focus Taiwan, New York Fashion week with Taiwan textile federation & H.P.France Group. HPGRP Gallery, 13th September 2012

"My dear page turner" Collection, Roomslink, Tokyo Fashion Week, Japan, April 2012

"Fold, unfold" Collection, Invited by ELLE Taiwan as NEW GEN designer. Eslite exhibition centre, Taipei. March 2012.

"Fold, unfold" Collection, Focus Taiwan, New York Fashion week with Taiwan textile federation. Chelsea Market, September 2011

"Geometry gone insane" Collection, Taipei Fashion week in Floral Expo Centre. Taipei, March 2011.

Eve.Lin 2010 AW Womenswear, Coningsby Gallery, London, UK, 2010

Practice of Fashion Drawing, 109147, 2020

The Girl Who Worries too Much, ISBN9789868751835, 2012

"Working Moon: An Innovative Case Study of Arts Pedagogy for International Students in HE, working with Chinese Students and Teachers in six cities in China" Presentation, Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference, 2019

" Play" presentation and workshop, RE: ACT Forum, Royal College of Art, 12th February 2018

"Play" seminar and workshop, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 30th Jan 2018- 1st February 2018

"Play" co-presented with Tim Stephens (UAL Education Developer [Curriculum] ), Research_Alive Symposium, Royal College of Art, London, 9th June 2017

FTC 2017, " Made in Taiwan " Royal College of Art, London, 4th May 2017

"Play", 'Progress in Research_Play, Pause, Forward and Rewind' presentation, F&T PGR WIP 2017, Royal College of Art, London, 22nd January 2017

"Made in Taiwan" , Research_Alive Symposium, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 15th June 2016

" rite of passage" presentation, F&T PGR WIP 2016, Royal College of Art, London, 21st January 2016

CACAO Columnist, Fashion and London, 2020-2021

Midnight Royal Podcast co-creator, 2020-2021