It seems appropriate for a fashion institute to be located on Delhi’s Fashion Street, and that’s exactly where the International Institute of Fashion Technology (IIFT), one of the premier institutes offering designing and merchandising courses, is. Visit South Extension-I to discover the head office of IIFT. Replete with smartly dressed secretaries and futuristic sketches hanging on the walls, it looks more like an office. So it comes as a surprise to find students in the building.
IIFT doesn’t have an actual campus, just three adjacent buildings where different classes are held. But that isn’t a drawback, considering the unique nature of this institute.
Established in 1990, it has been flourishing ever since, with 70 branches worldwide and five other Indian branches. It is recognised by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and is currently the biggest fashion institute in New Delhi. With Mumbai stars like Shilpa Shetty, Neha Dhupia and Mallika Sherawat — and ex-student Gracy Singh — walking the ramp at the annual IIFT fashion shows, and even occasionally picking up an exclusive student design for their wardrobe, it isn’t surprising that this is the first choice for most serious students of fashion.
The courses on offer are varied, with the two most popular ones being fashion designing and apparel merchandising. Students can opt for BSc degree courses, a two-year postgraduate course or a one-year diploma. The one-year diploma, that costs Rs 45,000, is popular with students who want a speedy training process that prepares them for jobs in the fashion industry.
Crash courses on offer allow students to make full use of the extensive library and the faculty, whose members are accessible any time of the day.
Ashish, a recent graduate of IIFT, says proudly that his professors actually give out their cellphone numbers to students for them to call up whenever they need help.
The students are taught in batches throughout the day, and even on weekends. There is a personal interview for admission, and/or an admission test.
Candidates who wish to apply must fill out the form which can be obtained on the IIFT website. They must apply three months in advance for the May/August/September sessions.
The number of seats vary according to the course selected but IIFT makes it a point to reserve a few seats each year for direct admission of deserving candidates.
Shaleen Mitra, member of the faculty, is an established young designer and teaches merchandising at IIFT. “Trends never go out of fashion,” he says. “Fashion grows because it is what we live in.” And what distinguishes this place from the others is the hands-on experience the students gain, he adds.
Apart from the institute’s own fashion shows, students also prepare for Wills India Fashion Week and Bollywood projects. Over 14 years, the students have put together more than 200 fashion shows.
The high point of IIFT is the fantastic career opportunities it offers. Thanks to an effective placement cell, students are guaranteed jobs in prominent export and buying houses. Due to the vocational nature of IIFT, most students take the one-year diploma course before interviewing with designers or high-end retail companies.
Mitra says that graduates are picked up by the biggest names in the industry, like Rohit Bal, and Santanu and Nikhil, who know that the institute turns out students of quality.
That’s precisely why companies such as Super Fashion, Nexus India, Ace International, and Touch of India, among others, visit the campus regularly for recruitment.
On a rampage
Student Monica Madhu, who has just completed the fashion-designing course, got an interview call from Tanishq. “That is why IIFT was my first and last choice,” she says.
“I knew about the excellent placement I’d be getting. The placement cell is really helpful — they send out CVs to all the major companies to get you these interviews.” And the teaching faculty' “They’re very supportive,” she holds. “They take it upon themselves to fulfil our dreams.”
The workload is manageable, according to the students. At the same time, the institute prepares them to handle the pressure of meeting deadlines, which is part and parcel of this high profile career.
There is one sore point, however — students complain about the poor electricity supply during the day!
At the end of the day, IIFT does exactly what it sets out to do. It offers young men and women who are interested in making a name for themselves, viable and flourishing careers.
No fashion faux pas, this.
Priya Alika Elias
WHAT IS IT' An institute that offers graduate and postgraduate courses in designing and merchandising.
WHO’S THE BOSS' Ratnadeep Lal is the CEO.
Does it provide hostel accommodation' No.
When do the sessions begin' In May, August and September.
When was it established' 1990.
Where is it located' H-12, South Extension-I, New Delhi.
Phone: 011- 24629370