Whistling Woods International (WWI) has always been proud of creating a holistic environment for its students. As an institute for film, communication, and creative arts, most of the WWI programmes are practical-oriented. The theoretical knowledge with practical application enables WWI students to be industry-ready at the end of their tenure with the institute. This approach has helped over 2500 alumni to make their mark across every branch of the media & entertainment (M&E) industry, in India and globally. The placement record for WWI School of Fashion stands at 83 percent with its students and alumni being placed at key organisations and brands in vital roles in the fashion industry, namely, Cherry Tex Fab Pvt Ltd, Kiaasa, IAN Fitness Ventures Pvt, Chanakya International, The Souled Store, amongst others. “While several of our alumni have secured admissions in leading colleges, globally, for further education, several others have gone on to work and collaborate with renowned fashion labels & houses as well as some have started their own entrepreneurial ventures,” says Jewellyn Alvares, HoD – School of Fashion, Whistling Woods International.
At the helm of employability-endeavours is the versatility that students from WWI are equipped with. Exposure to the different schools within WWI, exchanging knowledge and skill through common learning practices, empower students to learn and don multiple hats while gaining experience in specific fields in-depth. “We constantly try and review our strategy to encourage students to develop their creative process. It ranges from self-driven conceptualisation to engagement with various forms of media resources, even if it is not about the fashion industry alone,” shares Alvares. At WWI, classroom conversations revolve around developments and innovation in every sphere. Alvares adds, “We explore faculty-to-student as well as peer-to-peer feedback and critique, as its is a healthy way of acclimatising the students to accept feedback in a positive manner and use that to enhance both the process and the outcome. Encouraging to review the process at regular intervals greatly helps students to learn and evolve.”
Collaborating with the Industry
WWI’s USP is the industry exposure offered to the students via weekly masterclasses, 5th Veda sessions, workshops, practical performances, and industry visits. Each medium is a unique platform that builds a dialogue between the students and the industry in multiple ways. Alvares opines, “Industry interface is inevitable and is a major part of effective pedagogy in acquainting the learner with the working of the industry and its ways, ahead of their initiation, so they can brace themselves for either a smooth or turbulent landing but eventually setting a firm foot whether in a job or entrepreneurship.”
The institute organises various events on campus like Alumni Engagement Month & Career Talks, where students can interact with industry professionals – some of whom are alumni WWI. Workshops are conducted on topics that are not necessarily about fashion or design but also ones that focus on holistic wellbeing, to name a few. Alvares says, “We encourage inter-department projects and collaborations, which aids in the learning and enables fashion students to understand the various aspects of the media & entertainment industry.”
On the other side, WWI teaches an overview of business and entrepreneurship through an effective business of fashion curriculum. Case studies are evaluated, real and hypothetical scenarios are presented, and critical analysis based on facts, research, forecasts and projections are topics that engage the students. Owing to the holistic approach, several students have ventured on to their entrepreneurial journey. Nuum Bags by Nidhi Gala, Elvira by Pranali Oswal, Love Desi Love Pop by Rashmi Singh, are Selcouth by Richa Shah are some of the ventures started by WWI alumni.
Handling Pandemic Disruptions
“The Indian education system can be completely reshaped with the introduction of new technologies, learning process, and service. Though we have a long way to go before we fully utilise and put in practice the revised systems, the current COVID-19 scenario has enabled the education sector to embark on this journey of revolutionised methods,” opines Alvares. Irrespective of the given situation, WWI has ensured that the education of the students is not compromised. Adhering to government and UGC guidelines, the institute started with online classes and sessions for its students, enabling the faculties to cover the theoretical portions. Though no one has finite answers in the present scenario, Alvares and his team at WWI are hopeful that things will settle soon, and the campus will once again be buzzing with the students’ zeal and enthusiasm. “As and when we can have the students come back on campus, we’ll align their practical sessions, ensuring and adhering to the safety guidelines issued,” shares Alvares.
Presently, WWI is conducting online teaching and sessions to offset the fact that students cannot be physically present on campus. On the one hand, online education has its limitations, yet it also comes with great benefits and learnings. Though few disadvantages of online learning are the absence of face-to-face interaction, a sense of connection and the practical aspect of learning is missed. Alvares says, “Our major learning with regards to online teaching has been to witness and utilise it as an opportunity for better education of WWI students. Online teaching has enabled us to bring quality education to our students, breaking away from geographical boundaries.”
Today, WWI brings in industry experts from across the globe to conduct masterclasses or guest lectures for the students. “Another major learning has been witnessing our students being flexible while working on their talents,” shares Alvares. WWI students and alumni have come up with some amazing work during the lockdown period, showcasing their creativity and unlocking their potentials. Alvares adds, “We at WWI believe, if you are agile and not stuck in your mind, which this generation of students is not, as they are happy to explore latest technologies and learn new skillsets, it will enable them to have extremely successful careers in the field of creatives arts like fashion designing.”
The Way Forward
At WWI, faculty members always share their personal experiences and journey to enable the students to stay focused. Alvares explains, “Students, today, look up to their mentors as a pathfinder, shining a light on the possibilities that they can dare to tread on without fear. It is imperative to constantly show a vision and reboot the roadmap for updates and upgrades to help the students achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.” WWI’s vision has always been to create leaders and professionals in the industry. The institute has been able to achieve this through its versatility and state-of-the-art facilities at its disposal. “We focus on the future of the industry just as much as we consider the present. We will continue to align ourselves with reputed institutes and organisations like CILECT, Google, Reliance, RGNIYD, TISS, and many more,” states Alvares.
WWI intends to further its evolution by pushing the educational advancement envelope through new programmes and dissemination. “Our goal is to provide vocational training in media and creative arts to students of smaller towns and cities all over the country, and thanks to our university partners, Rajiv Gandhi national Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD) and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), this will also continue to grow steadily,” shares Alvares. With the Mumbai campus well established, WWI is strongly looking at expansion in terms of both programme verticals and campuses. The newest addition to our academic repertoire has been the School of Event Management. Additionally, WWI is at various stages of establishing additional campuses both within India and outside, in partnership with governments and other like-minded organisations. “We at WWI believe every aspirant who wishes to make a mark in the M&E industry should be able to attain the world-class education and be successful in what they do,” concludes Alvares.
About Jewellyn Alvares, HoD – School of Fashion, WWI
From being a renowned fashion designer to an expert in designing couture, customising bridalwear, and more, Jewellyn Alvares, is a man who dons many hats. For more than two decades, his specialty in bridal wear, under the brand name ‘Jule Bridal’, has made him an expert in finer nuances in high-end tailoring practices that pan pattern making, construction, and fine embroideries. In 2018, at the Lakme Fashion Week, he launched his menswear line under the eponymous label, Jewellyn Alvares. He is also a trained footwear designer, and his creative repertoire has been seen in international brands like Catwalk and Pavers England. Subjects of his interest include Haute Couture practices, Fashion forecasting, and he takes a keen interest in reinventing pedagogy used as effective teaching tools in fashion academia.