Programme: Fashion - BA (Hons)

Year: 2019

For Brian, studying Fashion at ECA gave him an array of skills and knowledge of fashion systems beyond aesthetics which, since graduating, he has been able to apply to a range of industry projects.

Brian exhibited his work, alongside his course mates', at Graduate Fashion Week in London. Here he was presented with multiple awards for his developments in sustainable fashion design including the Gold Award for ‘Collection of the Year’. Since then Brian has been hired to work in costume design for an Apple TV production and has since moved on to work on an upcoming Disney film.

Why I chose to study Fashion - BA (Hons)

In my youth I always aspired to study abroad, hoping to expand my horizons and develop my independence. Scotland seemed a very attractive option due to the wonderful educational funding relationship with the EU, meaning that prospective European students were offered free fees. It was my mother who suggested the University of Edinburgh, aware of its global reputation. I, being naïve to the university experience, applied without undertaking much research. I was fuelled by romantic notions of living in such a historic city. Frankly, it was only after my acceptance that I began to research ECA more seriously and I was astounded to discover the exceptional standards of the school, and the countless successes of its lauded fashion department. Being welcomed into a faculty of such high esteem was a daunting but thrilling venture. Having graduated in 2019 I can say that I am eternally delighted with my choice. However rash it may have been.

Image of Brian Mc Lysaght
Image courtesy of Brian Mc Lysaght

"ECA promoted a functionalist design approach, training us to be able to tackle any task from consumer-oriented mass-market design to experimental high-fashion, equipping us for whatever our future careers may demand."

Brian Mc Lysaght, Fashion - BA (Hons) alumnus

My time at ECA

The degree I studied was simply called Fashion as it took a truly holistic model of study, expanding across fashion design, brand development, business organisation, sustainability, and anthropology. ECA promoted a functionalist design approach, training us to be able to tackle any task from consumer-oriented mass-market design to experimental high-fashion, equipping us for whatever our future careers may demand.

We were encouraged to think critically about fashion systems beyond aesthetics, which proved very attractive to me. It expanded my understanding of the globalised industry and its incredible power to do harm but also to do good. As part of the ECA network I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Mumbai, India, a once in a lifetime fieldwork trip to examine sustainable fashion production and labour organisation across the region. Here we visited factories and social enterprises, conversing with artisans and activists providing me with an intensely personal understanding of the industry, and a highlight of my four years at ECA.

Image of degree show work produced by Brian Mc Lysaght
Image courtesy of Brian Mc Lysaght
Image of degree show work produced by Brian Mc Lysaght
Image courtesy of Brian Mc Lysaght

My experiences since graduating

After graduating, I, alongside my BA Fashion classmates, progressed onto Graduate Fashion Week in London to exhibit our respective degree projects. Here I so fortunately was presented with multiple awards for my developments in sustainable fashion design including the Gold Award for ‘Collection of the Year’. This was an exceptionally fulfilling moment for me, which garnered generous press, helping to launch my career. Off the back of this success, I was quickly hired to work in costume design for an Apple TV production. Here I gained great insight into the world of film and costume and found myself captivated by the rapid-paced and highly collaborative industry. I have since moved on to work on a very exciting upcoming Disney film. Costume design had not been my vision when studying fashion at ECA, however I have found it to be a fascinating experience where I have thrived. Fortunately, the diversity and depth of education at ECA has prepared me to apply my design skills in whatever field I may be working, and to perform to the highest standards alongside industry leaders.

My advice to new and current students

My advice for someone entering first year is to appreciate the fact that you have three years to grow and experiment and create without having to worry too much about grades. Before your degree, cherish this time of freedom to foster expansion of mind and spirit.

My advice for graduating students is that a marriage of precise planning and fearlessness is the key for success. And enjoy yourself, that’s ultimately the most important thing.


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