Getting Down to Business in Fashion Design

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

March 21, 2008

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The Art Institutes

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So you want a career in fashion and business? Getting the right education and training is critical for success--take college courses and seek out professional experiences that stimulate your sense of fashion and sharpen your mind for business.

It seems the most successful fashion designers also have a knack for business. When we think of Vera Wang, Donna Karan, Tom Ford, and Michael Kors, we think of people who are very good at marketing, negotiating, and identifying opportunities and trends in their industry.

They are, of course, also great designers. How can you master the creative and business sides of the fashion design industry?

Fashion School and Business
The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that entrepreneurial fashion designer hopefuls get schooled in design as well as a business discipline, such as marketing or merchandising. Many fashion design schools offer dual degrees in design and business, preparing students who wish to start their own boutique, launch their own brand, or simply prepare for a variety of careers in fashion design.

Getting business skills can also give you an advantage over your designer peers who can't draft spreadsheets, read financial statements, or devise an effective marketing plan. Attending fashion and business school also shows that your creative side can synch up with Wall Street priorities - with a business education, you may be less likely to compromise business interests in the name of strict adherence to a creative vision or design aesthetic.

Of course the business side of fashion is not going to appeal to all types of designers. Some would prefer to be distanced from the sound of keyboard tapping, boardroom chatter, and water cooler banter to concentrate solely on their creations. That's okay too - it just depends on the type of career in fashion you want, and how far you wish to take it.


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

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