There are more requirements to become a successful fashion designer than just watching The Devil Wears Prada on repeat. It requires creative freedom, expressive fearlessness, and years of education.
Fashion design is the art of creating clothes through the application of different techniques, designs, and materials and students who dream of pursuing a job in the industry must learn every step of the creative process.
Inspiration is at the forefront of any creative process, especially Fine Arts.
The first step students take in understanding inspiration is exploring the different influences of fashion over time. This is a course commonly known as History of Fashion. Students are required to explore fashion from each decade and the transformation of trends through time. This process is essential to developing one’s own ideas.
Design is the next step in the creative process; where the designers create a plan or a visual representation of their desired garment. Students take art classes to learn a variety of drawing techniques, to support their ideas into a reality on paper. Today, drawing on paper is considered to be “old fashioned” due to technology’s influence. As the world changes the fashion industry continues to shift their expectations and being proficient in the online programs Photoshop and Illustrator has become a necessity. Fashion institutes have developed courses where students learn computer-based design skills. Kensington and Chelsea College, in London, offers a course called Digital Fashion where students learn programs such as Photoshop.
In order to bring designs to life, students start by draping and sewing fabrics together. Courses, such as Sewing Techniques, Introduction to Draping, and Fundamentals of Sewing, are fundamental mandatory skills for fashion students
The Fashion Design curriculum includes professional practices; such as “innovation”, “team building”, and “how to present products”. At the London College of Fashion students and professors talk about “better lives”. The College expects its fashion students to be educated in social responsibility, diversity, and fashion sustainability. It explains that “better lives” is a term the College uses to describe how it uses fashion as a discipline to drive change, build a sustainable future and improve the way we live.” Fashion Colleges across the world have emphasised the importance of fashion sustainability in the curriculum as global warming becomes more of a vital issue. The fashion industry is a leading contributor in global warming through the production of clothes, manufacturing, and the dumping of extra fabric in landfills. In a New York Times article titled, “The Biggest Fake News in Fashion”, it was stated that “nearly three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being produced”. As these clothes are dumped into landfills, the fabric dye can leak into the ground causing irreversible damage in surrounding parks and bodies of water. Fashion designers and institutes are taking on the responsibility of trying to combat this serious issue.
Central St. Martins has become one of the many schools to emphasize sustainability. The school provides a page on their website about what sustainability is and what it is doing to combat this issue. Administrators asked “how can design be regenerative [and] what materials should we be designing with?” Through these questions, Central St. Martins has been able to explore sustainable practices and then add them to their curriculum. As the world changes, fashion institutes shift their curriculum in order for the students to be successful and impactful in the ever advancing fashion world.
When pursuing an education in fashion, there are a wide range of degrees students can explore. The most common degree is a Bachelors of Arts (Honours), or BA (Hons), which typically requires 3-4 years of education. The second most common degree is a Bachelors of Fine Arts, BFA, which is typical of students in the US and Canada who gain an undergraduate degree in visual or performing arts. Lastly, there is the Master of Arts degree, or an MA. This is a well respected post graduate degree in the fine arts.
Not only is there a variety of degrees students may gain, but there is an even wider range of specific topics students can be educated in. From costume design to fashion business & communication and more. If there is an interest in a specific aspect of fashion, students will be able to pursue it.
There is a plethora of esteemed schools in and around London that have courses in fashion design. Here are just a handful: Kensington and Chelsea College of Art, The Royal College of Art, Central St. Martins, University of Westminster, and Nottingham Trent University.
There are similarities in curriculums found in fashion schools across the world. Fashion Design students at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris, to students studying in Italy at the Istituto Marangoni, will all be exposed to similar foundational courses.
One notable city that is home to numerous fashion institutes is New York City. NYC is the location of the glamorous Met Gala but is also the stomping ground to these prestigious fashion universities: Fashion Institute of Fashion, Parsons School of Design, and Pratt Institute.
Younger students interested in fashion don’t have to wait until college to take classes. At the London College of Fashion, there is a course called Fashion Practice for 16 to 19 Year Olds. This course is offered in the summer and allows teenagers “to experience varied disciplines across fashion design, media communication and fashion business.”
What are the Career Opportunities?
Receiving a degree in fashion opens up a range of potential careers. Here’s a list of popular careers for students with a fashion design degree: Fashion Designer, Garment Technologist (create new fabrics), Retail Buyer (decides what goes out on the racks for different retail brands), and Fashion Illustrator (illustrates designs).
The London College of Fashion has a series of events where education in fashion are showcased. The first is The London College of Fashion: School of Design and Technology #LCF 19 Degree Show on July 18th-19th. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request access and more information. The second event is an immersive installation exploring textiles in performance titled Break Factor. The event takes place from May 24th to August 2nd. Contact fashion space email@example.com for more information.
Zoe Grinfeld is a perfect example of a modern day fashion design student. Zoe has been featured in magazines like Seventeen Magazine and Hartford Magazine. Zoe Grinfeld has “been drawing or making clothing ever since I can remember. When it came time to apply to colleges, it only seemed natural for me to study fashion.” Zoe is now completing her BFA in Apparel Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. After graduating she hopes to move to New York City and take the fashion scene by storm.
Kensington and Chelsea College recently showcased the work of many fashion design and fashion styling students. Around every corner of the showcase were extravagant clothing and scattered across the counters were the sketchbooks from where the ideas of the garments originated. The students who participated in the showcase all have similar educational experiences, but their final products are all dramatically different from one another. One student used a mod podge of non traditional clothing materials, and another presented a geometric, structured jacket. The Kensington and Chelsea College showcase illustrated perfectly how receiving an education in fashion will lead to endless creative possibilities.
50m is a venue “devoted to supporting and showcasing emerging designers, providing them a platform to sell and present their collections”. Recently, they launched a popup showcase for the Royal College of Art centre for entrepreneurship. On display were fashion, homewear, and jewelry products all created by Royal College of Art alumni. Many of the artists who had work on display expressed how pursuing an education in fashion created a strong community of artists who support one another. As an artist, support from peers is essential for the creative process and for finding opportunities to showcase work.
The sense of support and gratitude was apparent at 50m and made viewing the wonderful products even more enjoyable.
By Olivia Herz