3 questions for . . . Dominique Jacomet General Director, Institut Français de la Mode

Dominique Jacomet assumed leadership of the IFM in 2007 after having held a variety of posts in the fashion industry, including Board Of Directors member for Lacoste (Devanlay SA), and administrator for numerous other companies. He has also served as President of Euratex (Association Européenne du Textile et de l’Habillement).

In what areas is the IFM active?

In 1986, at the initiative of textile professionals and the Ministry of Industry, in 1986 the IFM was developed as a new model for advanced studies that erased the boundaries between management and design. The school was designed to serve students with at least four years of higher education in different disciplines: management, design, engineering and general university studies.

The IFM, a Conference des grandes écoles member, is government certified and awards state diplomas for its principal Management Program. Every year, more than 160 students train in every sector of the fashion industry and in the creative fields. Joint endeavours with ESCP Europe, La Fabrique (ESIV in particular), HEC, ENSCI, Paris Sorbonne 1 and other institutions bring an added dimension.

The IFM is also a centre for continuing education with a range of personalized programs. A fashion, luxury and design research centre with a sociological and economic focus produces reports on consumer behaviour, markets and retail thanks to its economic commission.

At the end of 2008, the IFM moved to the Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design. Did this signal a new era for the Institute?

Location is important for a school. The IFM took up residence in a site that not only lets the school welcome a greater number of students to conferences and training programs, but also represents modernity and transversality. Fashion is more than an industry, it’s a system that spreads out into several economic sectors. Fashion is everywhere, and the Docks are an expression of that truth.

At the Docks, the IFM is even more open to the outside world, thanks to a well stocked, easily accessible library. A full calendar of seminars, conferences, events and exhibits brings fashion professionals together to share ideas, take time to reflect, and gather information applicable to their constantly changing fields.

This ‘openness’ is also expressed by a greater number of advanced degree programs which include three management programs and a design program with three different majors: apparel, accessories and image. A summer university helps orient high school and freshmen students in the world of fashion.

‘Openness’ also means – and this is essential – scholarships; 40% of our students receive financial aid. We want a select and diverse student population; that’s what businesses need.

What are your future projects for the IFM?

One project is to continue developing internationally and to foster stronger ties with our partners: the Bocconi University in Milan, the University of Arts London (London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins), the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Tsinghua University in Beijing, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and other schools. Another project is to welcome a greater number of international students who are attracted by French fashion and by Paris. They’ll help push forward the international development of French fashion. Our student population is made up of 33 nationalities.

As educators, we must also continue to adapt to the latest needs of businesses and professionals by putting more focus on retail management, digital technology, creativity and excellence in manufacturing, both artisanal and industrial. We need to put more studies and information online, and help designers who want to develop their new business by offering specific (both individual and collective) training. That’s also true for our studies and reports; we must improve our analytical tools for analyzing the market, consumption and retail.