3 questions for ... Sophie Cristini Quintana, as Director of MOD'SPE Paris
Three questions for Sophie Cristini Quintana
As Director of MOD’SPE Paris, the fashion school established by the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin in 1993, Sophie Cristini Quintana advocates professionally-oriented training. The curriculum prepares students to work for the fashion industry in business, marketing, and communication jobs, and its 360° vision. MOD’SPE Paris has a human-scale, is located in the heart of Paris, the fashion capital and the school diplomas are registered with the Répertoire National de la Certification Professionnelle. Five bachelor degrees give graduates the skills for entering the workforce; and four masters degrees assure an international, strategic vision. Another distinguishing factor is the school’s insistence on promoting international mobility for French and foreign students. This is accomplished through partnerships with universities, particularly in the United States. This strategy has been successful; today there are 1,000 MOD’SPE Paris graduates working in fashion businesses, in fields from manufacturing to sales. Let’s take a closer look at the main pillars of this success.
In recent years have you observed changes in the business, marketing, or communication professions in fashion?
Yes, the market is undergoing significant changes. Businesses now want employees that can adapt. “Like a Swiss army knife” is an expression that keeps coming up. Additionally, there’s a demand for a double expertise. Today the industry is interested in people with knowledge about every step in production chains and about retail, an increasingly complex sphere. There’s also a need for data processing, which again involves all parts of the sector – from purchasing, to marketing, to managing customer relationships.
Given these changes, how do you adapt your courses?
To enhance our programs, we are in permanent contact with businesses, and these relationships help us anticipate their needs. That’s why digital technology, artificial intelligence, and Fashion Tech are constant threads in all our curriculums. These new subjects are, of course, complements to the always essential foundations (retail networks, supply chains, sourcing). Our students also take classes in design, patternmaking, computer graphics, and other topics to develop their artistic awareness and to understand the professional limits and typical profiles of their future colleagues. Someone who graduates from a business school will be extremely competent but, unlike our students, they won’t have been trained in fashion specifics.
And in an effort to meet our students’ needs, beginning with fall 2019, students at the baccalaureate + two years level will have the possibility of a work-study program. Our students, all part of generation Z, want to get going as soon as possible; they’re eager to put their theoretical knowledge from school to use in a business. Work-study is also a real plus for companies. It’s a way to make use of young talents. Out of concern for short-term savings, many businesses choose internships. For six months they train a student who will leave; and then they start again with another. Over the long term that’s a lot of lost time – and money. The work-study option is an excellent tool for creating loyalty. With a 12- to 24-month investment in a student, businesses can transmit their corporate culture and exact expectations. The result is that they add a completely efficient and motivated professional to their group. We think of generation Z as being volatile, but they really just need to be fully implicated before they commit themselves.
Are ideas about sustainability and responsibility now indispensable in your courses?
CSR, as well as digital technology, artificial intelligence, and Fashion Tech, are indispensable. Fashion businesses are affected by legal imperatives as well as demands from consumers who want clothing made ethically with sustainably produced materials. We’ve always taught CSR-related courses, but this year we decided to put even more focus on sustainable development, green marketing, green budgeting, etc. As students progress in their studies, these subjects are developed. Two expert-teachers are dedicated to these areas. It’s clear that our students have to play a role in the much-needed reinvention of fashion. In fact, many of them choose CSR-based topics for their theses – often at the request of businesses looking for new directions and solutions.