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Fashion Design

The Breakdown

Do the clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes? The answer, at least for fashion designers, is probably a little bit of both. Certainly, they recognize that an entire outfit or even a specific item can imbue a person with confidence or sex appeal. Further, they appreciate that certain fabrics and patterns convey sophistication or hipness or a casual lay-about attitude. As a nascent fashion designer, you’ll come to understand the virtues of these sensibilities and how to incorporate them into your own clothing designs.

Fashion students learn how to take an initial concept and translate it into a final, finished garment. Initially, you’ll focus on perfecting your technical skills. Indeed, construction is the foundation of any article and you will take numerous courses in sewing, draping and pattern making. These classes will be combined with coursework in fashion history, marketing, fabrication and merchandising. You will study how to expertly tailor clothes and how to hone your point of view to create a coherent collection. In your senior year, you’ll likely focus on a thesis project in which you will develop a small collection. The pieces you create will be the culmination of your collegiate portfolio. It should be noted that some programs have their students choose a concentration in areas like children’s wear, intimate apparel, knitwear, special occasions or sportswear.

To be successful in fashion design, you will clearly need a strong sense of color and composition. You’ll also find it’s important to have a good eye for detail and an understanding of balance and proportion. Of course, fashion is more than just a strong design aesthetic. You will discover that problem solving and communication skills will be necessary as you navigate the industry. After all, the majority of fashion jobs call for interaction with a variety of people. Finally, and perhaps most obvious, you should always make sure you’re up to date on the latest trends.

Nuts and Bolts

Fashion design students definitely get a lot of hands on experience with classes such as: Flat Pattern Design, Costume Design for the Performing Arts, Haute Couture Sewing Techniques, Leather Apparel Design, Computerized Design Pattern, Experiencing Style, Draping Fundamentals, Apparel Product Data Management, Body Contour, Active Sport Design, Foundation Fitting Techniques and Bridal Design.

Decisions, Decisions

Students curious about fashion are also likely be to drawn to studio art, textile design, art history, interior design, architecture, photography, advertising, merchandising, theater/costume design, graphic design, marketing, packaging design and product management.

What's Next

Recent graduates will find that there are a number of avenues to explore for career opportunities. Indeed, the industry can be broken down into various subsets and students can seek positions within accessory, shoe or clothing design. Moreover, designers can work with apparel manufacturers and wholesalers or search for positions with boutiques or couture houses. Naturally, some graduates aim to break out on their own and design for clients on an individual basis. And others take their talents to the performing arts, designing costumes for films, television and theater. Regardless of what you decide, it’s important to realize that designers just starting out will likely be assigned technical tasks such as sewing and pattern making. Of course, some students ultimately decide not to pursue design jobs. These students still leverage their education by finding positions in merchandising and marketing, working as a buyer for a large retail store, landing an entry-level editorial gig at a fashion magazine and even work as personal shoppers or interior designers.


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Don Munce