Course Leader for Fashion Marketing – Jason Forrest


Jason Forrest


Course Leader for Fashion Marketing


University of East London


Time with the company:

7 months

Please introduce yourself & your company

My name is Jason Forrest, course leader for the B.A Hons Fashion Marketing course at the University of East London (UEL), a career-led institution founded in 1898.

The university’s strategic 2028 vision is centred on courage, diversity & inclusion. In reimagining the role of higher education, three pillars apply to my own lived experience. I use my industry experience as an educational learning tool to nurture the next generation of fashion marketers.

What is your morning routine?

I like to start my day between 5 and 6 am to be well prepared. I meditate, which is later followed by a smoothie. I run 5 – 10K 3 days a week to clear my head and maintain my well-being.

How did you become involved with the luxury fashion industry?

I have always admired visual presentation within retail environments, specifically within the luxury and premium market sector. After graduating in 2002 in fashion design. I knew my career was best placed within a brand presentation.

I started my career as a menswear sales consultant for Harvey Nichols Birmingham; my focus was to join the visual merchandising team. Six months later resulted in a full-time role within the Knightsbridge store. After three years I made the transition to Burberry, where I was implementing in-store and window displays within the UK & Italy, which later resulted in pursuing leadership roles in House of Fraser and Bally Ltd

What was your journey that led to your current role?

Throughout my career, I have delivered several guest talks on the importance of visual merchandising within further and higher educational institutions, providing an insight into the role and responsibility of this silent seller, which I enjoyed.

At the age of 40, I started to re-evaluate my career and personal values, whilst identifying how I could use my industry knowledge and admiration for education to nurture the next generation.     My parents were firm believers in the Nelson Mandela Quote.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
A quote that now underpins my academic practice.

What is your main responsibility?

As Course Leader, I have a 360 responsibility for the delivery and management across all three years by ensuring the student experience is aligned with the universities strategic plan ‘Vision 2028’ following the Institutional policies and procedures. Implement rigorous frameworks and theoretical modules to support the assessment feedback applicable to our student’s progression.

I review reading lists following module and industry standards. Plan field trips and industry talks to contribute to developing our students’ critical skills in conjunction within specific modules. Defining how the course is marketed to which borough and demographic, plays a crucial role in future outreach and recruitment. Communicating with students and staff on the delivery of course content is vital to improving the course profile and representation.

What is your typical day/week like?

A typical day and week consist of back-to-back meetings, delivering and planning course content, along with course-related administrative duties. A typical week involves building relationships with external stakeholders and department heads to enrich our student experience. Checking the well-being of my team and pastoral support for our students plays a critical role as a course leader, future scoping outreach initiatives for new applicants, and reviewing our course offer under industry standards.

What’s the best part of your role?

Some of the best aspects of my role include building relationships and arranging both guest talks, and live client briefs. The aim is to enrich our student experience and employability. The objective is to nurture their confidence and resilience throughout this process when pitching directly to the client. Also, receiving affirmative feedback from both parents and partners, along with students obtaining jobs post-graduation. This produces a real sense of achievement as a course leader.

L6 Fashion Marketing Students Pitch directly to Fashion Minority Report (FMR) Founder Daniel Peter, to launch the learning hub associated with this platform.

What’s the worst part of your role?

Challenging behaviours & short deadlines

What is / are your most memorable work moment?

I have been privileged to meet some of the most influential CEO’s and Creative Directors for the below brands. They have all appreciated the work executed in accordance with their vision and business strategy.

Burberry: Angela Adherent & Christopher Bailey

Bally: Michael Herz & Graeme Fidler

Harvey Nichols: Janet Wardley

Throughout this process, I have worked in teams to merchandise the store layout and window displays for London and Milan fashion weeks. Along with showroom setups for the buying season in the same locations. I appreciated all the feedback and experience obtained, and now apply this to academia and on occasion, freelance consultancy.

Receiving affirmative feedback from both parents & partners, along with students obtaining jobs post-graduation, makes this job worthwhile. Young people crave the knowledge & experience to become change-makers of the future. Especially those from underrepresented groups. Below are some of the memorable work moments within academia. They are addressing the importance of inclusivity in the fashion curriculum.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in the same profession?

Suppose you are interested in making a difference in the lives of young people. Teaching within Higher education could be a viable profession. You will enjoy an exciting environment for knowledge exchange and seeing the evolution of the student journey.

I have autonomy through the delivery of curriculum content, which provides variety throughout the day. Overall, it is a rewarding opportunity. However, there is still a need for more diversity within the academic staff, to provide a true reflection of our global majority cohort.

portrait photo credit: Will Cheng 

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A few words about the article author

Dwayne Ferguson is Head of Digital at Outside The Box Recruitment.

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