There is more to fashion than just glitter and glamour. Creativity and hard work are the basic requirements of anyone willing to make it big in this industry. Jebin Johny learnt this lesson first-hand while doing his MA in Fashion and Textile Design from the University of Northampton.
Edugraph caught up with Johny, who is also the founder of Jebsispar, a womenswear clothing brand, to know about his experience in the UK.
Edugraph: What sparked your interest in Fashion Design? Why did you choose to pursue your MA in Fashion and Textile Design in the UK?
Jebin Johny: I was passionate about fashion, moviemaking, acting or anything related to the arts right from my school days. But I have always felt a special pull towards Fashion Design. After my Class XII board results were out, I got into Angel College of Engineering and Technology, Anna University, Tamil Nadu, and pursued a BTech in Fashion Technology for the next four years. I always dreamt of going to the UK for my master’s. Some of my family members live there — my grandparents’ friends, brothers and sisters are all settled in the UK. So, I had been aware of study opportunities available there.
You got a scholarship from the University of Northampton for MA in Fashion and Textile Design. How did you get the scholarship?
Jebin Johny: I went to the UK through an agency in Cochin, Kerala, that had helped me a lot in choosing the right university. The agency identified for me the UK universities that give scholarships to international students based on their academic merit.
What do you think is the difference between your MA course from the UK university and what you learnt from your BTech course in India?
Jebin Johny: My BTech course helped me to see things from a more technical perspective. But it hadn’t taught me how to judge and assess things from the viewpoint of a designer. In contrast, the MA course in Fashion and Textile Design enabled me to think like a designer.
Did you enjoy the cultural diversity and exploring the region as an international student in the UK?
Jebin Johny: I was the only one representing India in my class. But it didn’t deter me from exploring every aspect of student life in the UK. I never felt that I did not belong there because the university was very welcoming. The students’ union organised welcoming classes for international students; these classes gave me the chance to interact with people from other streams and classes. It was an amazing experience. I made some lifetime friends from there.
What can Indian students expect once they land in the UK for higher studies?
Jebin Johny: The UK education system is totally different from what we have here. If you are open to working really hard and learning new things, a postgraduate course in the UK would be a fantastic experience. Postgraduate students in the UK get hands-on training and are allowed to see things from their own perspectives.
You also have a stay-back option after completing the postgraduate course. So, it’s worth spending the money on your education in the UK. On completion of your course, you can either find a job in the UK or choose to come back to India to get a lucrative job or start your own venture.
The MA course in Fashion and Textile Design in the UK taught me to think like a designer and see things more from the viewpoint of a designer rather than only from a technical perspective.- Jebin Johny
You have launched a sustainable fashion brand — Jebsispar. How is it different from other such brands?
Jebin Johny: It’s a sustainable brand, which means we don’t use plastic or any hazardous chemicals and reduce the carbon footprint of the fabric. This idea sets the brand apart from others in the market. The brand name — Jebsispar — reflects the ethos of a tight-knit family. If you break the name down to three syllables, you’ll find Jeb for Jebin, sis for my two sisters and Par for my parents. I work with the weavers of Kerala who make the finest handloom and fabrics. My ideas are based on my perspective and upbringing.
You’ve been featured in fashion magazines like Elle and Vogue and have worked with celebrities like Sonam Kapoor and Vidya Balan. What has been the experience like?
Jebin Johny: Elle magazine covered us when we were selected for Lakme Fashion Week. It’s been a huge opportunity. Naturally, top celebrities get attracted towards your work if your brand and products are unique. That’s how Sonam and Vidya approached us and wore my clothes. Sonam is a fashion icon. When she wore our clothes, it felt surreal. Things literally changed for me after that — the business just exploded. That’s the impact you have when someone so influential wears your clothes.
What role did the British Council play in your academic journey?
Jebin Johny: I am currently preparing for a PhD course. The British Council has been very helpful in keeping me updated with relevant information. It also provides some good scholarships for Indian students.