Fashion Design Schools: East Coast vs. West Coast

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

March 27, 2006

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Careers in fashion often begin with choosing a fashion school. If you're deciding between schools on the East Coast and those on the West, you'll want to consider some of these factors.

Fashion schools are no different from other schools in their ability to be influenced and shaped by their surroundings. When you're considering which fashion school to attend, it's important to consider location.

Studying in the East

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New York City, for example, has long been regarded as the center of the fashion industry. It's where you'll find leading fashion schools and fashion houses. It's the location of Fashion Week, one of the most important events in the fashion industry. If you're interested in a career in mainstream fashion, working for a big label like Donna Karan or a purveyor of luxury goods such as Hermes, New York may be the place to attend fashion school.

You'll also find fashion schools in other large metropolitan areas in the East, such as Boston, Atlanta, and Miami. South Beach's solid reputation as a place where creative, fashionable people come to vacation, open restaurants, boutiques, and salons, continues to imbue the city with an energetic community of people with an interest in style.

Sizing Up Schools in the West

On the other hand, if you're looking for a program that's more supportive of small, independent designers, you might be better served by fashion schools in San Francisco, a community that's more likely to question the assumptions of the fashion establishment and push innovation. San Francisco is also filled with small independently owned boutiques that feature clothing of local designers.

Go further south and you'll find a markedly different scene from the laid-back collaborative style of Northern California. Los Angeles is home to Hollywood and an array of fashion schools that specialize in preparing students to pursue highly competitive fashion jobs as costume designers. Los Angeles also has a thriving designer boutique culture, one that is considerably more competitive and established than what you'll find in San Francisco.

You'll find interesting paths to careers in fashion on both coasts, though different locales may help prepare for different jobs in the fashion business.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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