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Fashion and Art at St Andrews: How Students Fill the Gap

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

For a university without a fashion program, St Andrews is certainly not lacking the presence of the fashion industry. Even without knowing about the many charity fashion shows that take place here — Don’t Walk, FS, VS, and Sitara as a non-exhaustive list — when just walking around the Royal Burgh it is evident to see that attention to fashion lies at the heart of many St Andrews students. This is one of the best dressed communities I have ever lived in, which was so unexpected for a seaside town in the middle of Fife. I find myself altering the way I dress when running the simplest of errands here. The fashion week-worthy outfits seen in the queues for local coffee shops aside, I want to ask why is fashion so prominent here? 

I have two guesses: the first is that St Andrews as an institution attracts a wealthy crowd, and that wealth enables an indulgence in high fashion. My second guess is more optimistic: when institutions do not offer programs in the visual arts, students create their own opportunities. One of my favorite things about St Andrews is the initiative demonstrated by our student population. It is truly my belief that all people have a need for creative outlets in their lives, and this is reflected by the many, many opportunities created by students, for students to showcase their creativity whether it be in music, visual arts, graphic design, or fashion. When no creative outlets are offered, they’re made.

The established fashion shows here have become institutions themselves as a testament to student-run projects concerning the visual arts. But creative projects in this town span beyond just fashion. There is a gap in the market created by the university’s lack of proper creative outlets for students, and the students here definitely seize that open market. I spoke to my friend, Camille, who is an artist involved in leading several creative projects, including the Art Project. The Art Project focuses on printing, promoting, and selling student art, as well as creating social spaces for creatives to come together. It’s refreshing for student artists to have a way to make money doing what they love, especially at a university with such a corporate-oriented path coming out of St Andrews, according to Camille. The Art Project creates opportunities for student artists to grow and see the value in their work in a space where creative projects can take a backseat to future planning. But it doesn’t have to! The goal of The Art Project is to expand as well as involve alumni, and is effectively filling the previous lack of a student art market. For Camille, realizing the value in both her own and other student’s creativity has shaped her career, opening up her sight to new doors of opportunity. We agreed that although it is unfortunate the university does not offer art classes, the silver lining of students taking responsibility to create the projects they want to see outweighs this shortcoming, and offers students the opportunity to generate experience as leaders in the creative sphere. 

The fashion shows are one of the most anticipated events of the year, routinely selling out tickets, so clearly there is a demand. Although the aspect of philanthropy may be central to why fashion shows thrive here, they definitely enrich St Andrews student culture by being pillars of creativity that drum up observable excitement each year. There is a market for the arts in St Andrews that rests on the backs of the students who live here.

Ella Bernard

St. Andrews '25

Ella is a third year studying Archaeology and Social Anthropology. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism when she’s not captaining her own sailboat on a voyage around the world. In her free time you can find her at the farmers market, gathering fresh ingredients for her next dinner party. She is especially passionate in writing about travel, women’s health, and wellness.