Bunka Diary #1

Wool dress and Leather Backpack and Triangle-Bags by me

Wool dress and Leather Backpack and Triangle-Bags by me

I’ve been a student at Bunka Fashion College for a year now, and even though I always talked about writing something about my school life here at apparently the 2nd best Fashion School in the world, I never had the time to actually write something down.
This basically sums up the first year quite well: I never had time for anything else but school work. My blogging was cut down to a minimum and even though I regularly took outfit and other photos of things I wanted to share with you, I just couldn’t make time to edit and write entires – and when I had a little bit of time, I wanted to think about anything else but school.

But now my second year has started! While the first year in the Fashion Technology department is made up of a foundation course, from the second year onward you choose which specific direction you want to continue in with the options being Creative Apparel Design – which I continue in – , Apparel Design Techniques (Pattern Making), Industrial Merchandising and Knit Design.

But since I haven’t had a chance to talk much about the first year, but I receive a lot of messages about the student life at Bunka, I thought I could make a series of posts regarding how the classes are, how time management works, what you actually do, how technique vs creativity balances out, and much more!


So today I will start with the Fashion Technology course in general.
When I applied to study at Bunka I first looked at their pamphlet and made myself familiar with the different departments and courses offered. I wasn’t sure which course to take since a lot seems very similar at first glance, but after a reassuring interview before I handed in my application, I decided on the Fashion Technology department.

Read on for more details!


The Fashion Technology department is one of the biggest departments, because as I said earlier, first all students in the department have to pass the foundations course, so at first my department was made up of seven classes with about 45 students each. In comparison, my department now has 2 classes with about 50 students each.

Since in this first year you are mainly taught to sew basic garments and to draw patterns, space and having enough of it became a serious issue, since the class rooms are rather small for the number of students they hold. There is also a shared workroom, but because all classes use it, if you don’t ‘reserve a table’ – even though it is prohibited to do so – you will basically have to work on the floor.

The garments you make in the first year are specified quite strictly and only the students who are quick and always on top of their class are allowed to alter the design to their liking. If you aren’t in that group, you will have to make due with the list of elements that have to be included in the garment and just keep it simple, or find a fabric that will make the piece more interesting.

Since I work rather fast, I always liked this rule, since it gives you a motivation to do good work – and you will be rewarded with being able to put a little more of yourself into your work.

The garments you make in the first year are as follows: A cotton skirt (gather, soft pleated or circular), a cotton blouse, a wool skirt(semi-tight paneled, flared or pleated), a wool jacket with lining, a wool onepiece dress with lining, and a pair of cotton trousers.

It is up to you if you only want to make one of each, or give yourself some extra work, by making two or even three garments per project. I made two blouses and in the end nearly killed my social life by making three dresses – only because I wanted to present something with a bit more impact in the last runway presentation.


As you can probably imagine from the list above, you cannot use different fabrics than the ones asked for. 100% cotton or wool is always required, but if you are quick with your work, you might get away with something a little mixed; stretch is never allowed though.

As for wool, this leaves you with a quite difficult selection, because a lot of patterned and interesting wool fabrics are made for coats and slightly too thick for for example a jacket, which will leave you frustrated most of the time. I solved this problem by using embroidery or other fabric manipulations such as quilting or smocking to my advantage to make a boring grey flannel a bit more interesting.

As for cotton fabrics, there are a ton of cute fabrics at shops around school! But Bunka is lucky to have an inkjet fabric printer in the resource center office, where you can order prints on different printable fabrics (cotton and polyester fabrics) for as cheap as ¥1500~1800 per meter! Since I did photography and graphic design for my Bachelors degree, I tried printing right away and made an ombre flower print for the blouse project.

I briefly mentioned it earlier, but with every project comes a runway presentation which is held in front of the other classes, teachers and in case of the last show, also students and teachers from other departments. The first few projects have to be tailored to yourself, or if you are a boy, you have to find a girl in class to be your model. However,  starting from the second skirt on, you are allowed to used another person. This means that everyone has to at least walk the runway twice, which helps you understand the pressure a model feels and generally makes you more aware of how to present something the right way.

These presentations are always student planned and each class will have teams working on the walking and changing schedule, the background music, the light and runway preparations and the invitation cards.

I was the leader of the invitation card team in my class and mostly did the work alone… Who doesn’t enjoy group work… But even though the runway presentations are at first only held for the other classes, the invitation cards always had to be innovative, a little playful and fresh – so you couldn’t get away with just a postcard – other classes could though, so there is a little bit of room I guess.


The foundation course also includes other subjects such as Fashion Business, Material Chemistry, Fashion History, Design Illustration, Color coordination and a few more, which you have to earn credits in to fulfill the requirements of the first year. This can be a little bit tough, because making patterns and sewing, as well as writing a report for every project, will keep you quite busy as it is, every course demands constant work. And to be honest, there are a few subjects I didn’t quite understand why we had to take them in the first place ( = Color Coordination. You only cut and past colored paper. I felt as if I signed up for elementary school…), but in the end every course helps you a little to find inspiration for your next project.


This is basically everything you need to know about the foundation course. If there are any questions left open, I am happy to answer!

Also, I will try to keep up a little Bunka Diary series, to keep you updated about what I am doing now that I advanced to the second year! And I can tell you, it’s only been a month but I already worked on SO much! Can’t wait to show you next time!



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2 Responses
  • Carol Patrício
    August 6, 2016

    I just found your blog today and I’m in love! I’m really excited to read this Bunka Diary series, I’m currently studying Fashion Design at a local university where I live (in Brazil), but Bunka is my dream school! One day I hope to study there so I’m living vicariously through your blog! 😀

    • Nicola Thiele
      August 10, 2016

      Hi Carol!
      Wow, Thank you SO much for your kind words!!
      I just did a little stroll through your blog and I am so amazed by all your creations! I’m always a little shy when it comes to presenting my work to the WWW! I would love to see more of your works, so count me in as a new follower 😉
      And Bunka definitely is a great school, but as I already wrote, a little more on the technical side, but I’m changing into their Masters program from next year, maybe that’s something for you to look into too? Their studios are amazingly well equipped!
      Greetings to Brazil! 😉

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