Fashion Design School: What You Can Expect


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March 8, 2005

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Fashion design school is structured to provide students with the creative, technical, and business skills needed to design clothing and accessories. In fashion design school you will have the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to pursue entry-level careers in all areas such as apparel, costume designer, patternmaker, or stylist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an associate's or bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level fashion design positions. As such, a two or four-year degree from a fashion design school will likely give you the best chances of obtaining jobs in the field.

You can expect a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from a college or university to focus on art history, principles of design, garment construction, textiles, computerized design, and drawing. Fashion design institutes or schools often focus strictly on courses related directly to the field and omit general education courses that might be included in a traditional four-year program. As such, fashion design school degrees can usually be completed in less than two years.

Fashion Design School Curriculum: An Overview

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Core fashion design school courses usually relate to flat pattern drafting, the use of color palettes, computerized pattern-making technology, drawing, sewing, and draping. Students of fashion design school programs will likely be introduced to traditional tools as well as industrial equipment used in the design of clothing.

To complement the creative skills that students are expected to develop, business classes will also likely make up a modest portion of a fashion design school's curriculum. Courses on merchandising, marketing, and other business issues may be available. While fashion design school graduates may not wish to work directly in the business area, it's important for them to have a basic understanding of the fashion business.

Naturally, developing creative skills is a focus of fashion design school. You may develop expertise in knit construction, menswear, sportswear, or children's apparel. During fashion design school you will likely have the opportunity to develop a design concept and create it.

Academic experience afforded by fashion design school can be the defining experience that fills your portfolio with design work and helps you to land your first real fashion design job out of fashion design school.

Careers Out of Fashion Design School

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15,000 fashion designers were employed in 2002, and the overall job growth in the design field is predicted to grow about 10 to 20 percent through 2012.

Most fashion design school graduates work for apparel manufacturing companies or in the wholesale distribution of apparel and accessories. Some fashion design school graduates work for themselves and design clothes for private clients. High-fashion designers work for large department stores or boutiques, for which they design original clothing for retail stores.

Most fashion design school graduates work for large apparel and accessories manufacturing companies. This side of the fashion business focuses on mass produced clothing, which is usually much less expensive than clothing designed for individuals or high-fashion department stores.

Those starting out in fashion design may take an entry-level job as an illustrator, patternmaker, stylist, or assistant designer. A career in merchandising is perfect for business-minded fashion design school graduates. As your career progresses, you may eventually land a position as an associate or lead designer for a large apparel company.

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