Industry and cross-cultural engagement with Vietnam's burgeoning fashion industry was the focus of a recent study tour.
Students from the Bachelor of Applied Science (Fashion and Textiles Merchandising) - now known as the Bachelor of Fashion (Merchandise Management) - spent 10 days in Ho Chi Minh City on the tour.
Their main focus was a research project for the French fashion brand, Song, a lifestyle label inspired by fine handmade Vietnam traditions.
The third-year students' empirical research included undertaking focus group studies with the fashion brand's major clients and interviewing several Ho Chi Minh City retailers such as Zalora, L'Usine, and Tips & Toes - stimulating critical thinking skills in both an academic and professional context.
During the study tour, the students also gained insight into Vietnam's fashion industry through collaborative efforts with RMIT Vietnam University fashion students.
RMIT Fashion and Textiles lecturer, Yuping Li, said the Vietnam study tour was established to create opportunities for talented young fashion and merchandising students to not only foster global and practical experience in Vietnam, but gain an advantage in the "Asian Century".
"Students are able to establish their own industry connections through the partnerships developed by RMIT and RMIT Vietnam," Ms Li said.
"Aside from completing their major research project and putting forth recommendations to the fashion brand, Song, the tour enables students to develop a better understanding of the different aspects of the supply chain.
"They also gain insight into potential employment opportunities and career directions possible within the industry that the constraints of an academic setting don't illuminate."
In the past, the study tour - which has been running since 2009 - has collaborated with Song on product development and business-to-business consumer strategies.
The students' trip was fully funded through the AsiaBound Mobility Grant, an Australian government initiative that supports students working across Asian cultures on real-world projects to encourage cross-cultural industry engagement.
Student Georgia Polistina said winning the AsiaBound Mobility grant - which provided $2,000 towards the study tour - provided an incredible opportunity to gain global experience in the competitive fashion industry.
"We've met with both international and local brands operating in Ho Chi Minh City and also visited manufacturers and observed retail operations," Ms Polistena said.
"It has been such a great experience to see how a fashion company runs their business overseas, which I believe will help me with career development and equip me with better decision making skills.
"It was also very rewarding to meet with and interview such inspirational people, especially those from L'Usine and Zalora.
"The opportunities through the study tour have enabled us to use what we've learnt in class and apply it to a real life scenario."
The students' participation in the program's annual study tour expanded and built on the foundational knowledge gained over their past two years at RMIT.
When the students weren't engaged in academic or work-related activities, they also had the opportunity to engage in other cultural activities in Vietnam such as exploring Ho Chi Minh City and visiting the Little Rose Shelter, which offers support and assistance to disadvantaged young girls.
Now back at home in Melbourne, the group are busy working on a business-to-business strategy recommendation for Song and applying their newly gained global experience.
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