The Fashion MA programme asks for a disruptive critical approach leading to new aesthetics and responses about the practice and industry of fashion.
We look to create a new generation of thought leaders/designers; future fashion designers with a combined skill-set of designer-led innovation, underpinned with that critical approach and collaboration situated within new technologies, offering specific fashion insights and understanding of new engineering, digital and scientific paradigms.
A shift in authorship, materiality, economic structure and communication allows new patterns of work and aesthetics. Equally, integrity, ingenuity and play are essential within this new fashion practice.
Our alumni have worked at Nike Futures, Alyx, Tom Ford, Hussein Chalayan, Onassis Centre, and Jacquard Project residencies; Material relations with Kaihara DENIM, Shima and Bio at Open Cell; projects with Porsche, IFF and Cern.
Students apply to one of the following specialisms:
- Adaptive wear
- Bio wear
- Footwear, Accessories, Millinery and Eyewear (FAME)
- Human wear
Students have access to the College’s workshops, with traditional facilities for woodworking, metalworking, plastics and resins, including bookable bench spaces. Computer-driven subtractive milling equipment is available, as well as additive rapid prototyping.
Our alumni form an international network of creative individuals who have shaped and continue to shape the world.
- Alice Potts
- Alice Robinson
- Bianca Saunders
- Fen Chen Wang
- Kanghuyk Choi
- Saul Nash
- Staff Only
- Supriya Lele
- Xiao Li
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
In your first year, you take three units within the Fashion programme.
- The Platform-based unit ‘Thinking’ (20 credits) helps you develop new perspectives on your work.
- On ‘Material’ (20 credits), you’ll develop your independent research through materiality, provenance and form.
- Finally, studio-based ‘Practice’ (20 credits) develops your overarching vision as a fashion design thinker.
In addition, you’ll take both an interdisciplinary, cross-School project, the ‘Grand Design Challenge’ (20 credits), and Critical & Historical Studies, 40 credits.
In your second year, you build on your person practice through the units ‘Initial Practice’ (30 credits) and ‘Critical Practice’ (30 credits), culminating in your final project, ‘Independent Practice: Total Landscape’ (60 credits).
All students present two completed looks or objects as part of their final assessment, selected from a number of completed prototypes, in addition to a portfolio of all final work and other relevant projects completed at the RCA. A complete language, iteration, prototype and manifesto of self.
Footwear, Accessories, Millinery and Eyewear Specialisms
Integrated within the Fashion MA but with their own dedicated studio facility machines and technicians, our Footwear, Accessories, Millinery and Eyewear (FAME) specialisms offer students the platform to explore these niche areas of study that form the backbone of the fashion industry.
First established in 1996, the exciting new addition of eyewear opens up a whole new vision for fashion design, incorporating VR, AR and mix of realities that are yet to be fully explored by the industry.
The FAME studio has its own machines specific for leather, fur and plastic, with cutting tables, glue and sanding rooms.
FAME is led by hat and accessory designer Flora McLean, supported by specialist RCA technicians who currently include Natacha Marro, celebrity footwear designer, and Stephanie Freude, luxury bag designer and leather crafter. Workshops, masterclasses and visits are held throughout the year by industry guests and master craftsmen. Recent visitors include Florence Druart, Rob Goodwin, Benjamin John Hall, Tom Murphy and Atalanta Weller.
Many FAME alumni boast prestigious jobs in high-end luxury fashion footwear and accessory labels, while others work on innovation and sustainable research projects examining the leather economy, waste, the re-purposing of fashion accessories and future systems for footwear.
Our alumni are currently designing at Vivienne Westwood, Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Tom Ford, Aquazzura, Adidas, Reebok, Issey Miyake, Sophia Webster, Burberry Accessories and Sunshine Bertrand Eyewear.
How to Apply
Applicants should apply for the Fashion MA, specifying their interest in a FAME specialism in their statement. You should ideally have an undergraduate qualification in one of the areas, or experience in the fashion, product, jewellery, metal design or hat industry. Your portfolio should focus on your chosen specialism and demonstrate a passion for this area.
Today knitwear is radically changing in its perception. Possibly one the most sustainable methods for producing fabric, knitting has evolved from a traditional craft into a highly technological process that has changed the economies of many high-end fashion global businesses. Students from the RCA over the past few years have investigated various realms of our social fabric through the eyes of knit, analysing the relationship between the analogue and the digital, the ‘hand-crafted’ versus the ‘technological’, exploring narratives around communal design, the female gaze and the molecular structure of the yarn itself. Our mission is to push forward in new ways that might add to this gamut of investigation.
The RCA Fashion programme has a radical edge, pushing students on the programme to critically assess how knitwear can evolve as a medium through cross-discipline contaminations and technological interactions. As a student you will be invited to reflect on how the wealth of information that you bring to the course such as your cultural background, your life experiences and your overall creative skills can be understood through larger social narratives and you will be invited to evaluate your design position in the industry of the future.
Key lead is Carlo Volpi , creative director of UPW, a freelance knitwear designer who has previously worked for various Italian fashion houses as well as his own label. Carlo also contributed extensively to the ‘Spazio Ricerca’ at Pitti Filati, designing and making experimental fabrics and show pieces for the trade fair every season. Knitwear industry experts regularly teach on the programme, bringing their wealth of experience to enrich the students’ learning journey. Knitwear students are equally introduced to a diverse range of equipment and technologies, not strictly related to knitwear, that allows them to broaden their thinking and have a more imaginative vision of what this craft could become in our future society and industry.
Our alulmi work at: Nike, Tom Ford, Celine, Burberry, Label hood, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Calvin Klein, Kenzo.
Other alumni have gone on to set up their own labels:
- Archie Dickens, based in Lisbon
- Katharina Dubbick, working through curation, scent and knit
- Congregation, led by Marie Maisoneuve with sustainability core to each project, valorising social and natural resources at every stage
- Shasha Wong and her elegant pieces from Shanghai
- Alex Po of Hong Kong co-creative director of menswear label Ponder.er (liquifying modern masculinity)
- Kahn Ngyuen and his new innovative design studio space in London
- Rebecca Marsden, who was a finalist on the Santoni Pioneer Programme & Woolmark Performance Challenge 19
- Krystal Panigua and her Puertorican routes
- Lingxiao Luo who researched how knitwear could evolve alongside 3D printing.
RCA alumni have shown to be consistent winners of Feel the Yarn and Wool Mark competitions.
How to Apply
Applicants should apply for the Fashion MA, specifying their interest in a Knitwear specialism in their statement. Your portfolio should focus on your chosen specialism and demonstrate a passion for this area.
Critical & Historical Studies (CHS)
All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.
What you need to know before you apply
Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process considers creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.
We want students who wish to articulate new perspectives, develop their imagination and advance an enquiry about their discipline, practice and industry. You’ll be self-motivated, determined critical thinkers and passionate about their discipline, as well as technically curious and independent.
What's needed from you
Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.
Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:
- Creativity, imagination and innovation
- Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
- Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
- Technical skills appropriate to the work
- Potential to benefit from the programme
We are looking for your unique vision.
How you present your work whether by filming for the atmosphere, sound, 360 degree reveal or the graphic layout for a future magazine, screen or publication, please consider everything you choose…
Fashion is a design language of communication so what might inform as this proposal will be viewed as your complete world and language.
- What are the steps in your process? Have you ever considered drawing-up a schematic of this?
- What materials are important to your work and why?
- When you design how much do you consider the body? And do you show the specificity of that body and form – scale culture gender.
- How do you choose to investigate your design through make? Do you create multiple iterations or focus on the engineering of a few prototypes?
- Can you present your experimentations and then show us how you edit and curate from these for the next steps in design?
- Show us what you considered to have failed and why.
Please use the following to guide your ten spaces:
- STRONGEST CLEAR IMAGE about your unique LANGUAGE in design
- Video of what you research, what you believe and why including a personal sketch
- Video of process how you make draw consider view touch experience showing methodologies and intuitive process
- Video of work on body in appropriate movement and situation including garment/ artefact imagery edited from fittings or editorial visuals
- Video of design work a selection including recent work, research and design development, in-depth research about material to application of concept, rendered illustrations and flats of at least four projects/ concepts
- Images of iterations of design process thinking
- Image of design concluded
- Images of iterations of design process thinking
- Image of design concluded
- Image of final work that shows your known or explored digital approaches, showing method of design or communication
If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.
You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.
If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.
For this programme
Fees for new students
Fees for September 2021 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
Overseas and EU
New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.
Overseas and EU
* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.
Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.
There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.
Change your life and be here in 2021
The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.