Fashion design is the artistic creation of clothing and accessories. The industry is influenced by several cultural factors and is international in scope. Earning a degree in this field will help you land a coveted slot in many jobs in the industry, either as a solo designer or, more likely in larger fashion houses, as part of a team.
As a fashion designer, you’ll be challenged to think well into the future as the time it takes to bring a garment into the marketplace may be considerable. You must be able to use what you learn while attaining your degree to create an aesthetically pleasing article of clothing or accessory piece. You also have to anticipate the changing needs of consumers as well as know when to tweak a well-loved staple and keep it in the market.
One of the more interesting parts of this career is not just designing the clothing, but considering the end buyer. Like any good marketer, you’ll need to know who your audience is. For example, you’ll use your fashion degree to discern who is likely to wear a garment as well as the occasions in which it will be worn.
Today, most clothing is designed for the mass market, especially casual, sport and day wear. Unusual suits and gowns are sought-after for special events, including cruise wear, evening wear and party dresses. More and more designers are using unique materials as well as mixing non-traditional patterns, styles and colors.
Once you earn your degree, you’ll be equipped to enter the job market. Each year, fashion designers help create billions of dresses, suits, shoes and other clothing and accessories. Depending on the size of the design firm, designers may be responsible for one particular stage or many, including researching and studying a variety of fashion trends, sketching modern designs of clothing and accessories, selecting fabrics and colors and overseeing final production.
It can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to see your idea go from concept to creation. You’ll learn the many steps as you take coursework towards your fashion design degree. For example, once designs and fabrics are selected, a prototype of the garment using cheaper materials is created and then fitted on a model to see what adjustments need to be made. To expedite matters, computer-aided design (CAD) is increasingly being used in the fashion design industry.
Fashion designers are typically required to have an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s degree. Basic coursework includes color, textiles, pattern making, sewing and tailoring, fashion history, computer-aided design (CAD) and design of varying types of clothing such as menswear, maternity wear or footwear, and classes in human anatomy; math and psychology are useful. Quite often, fashion designers combine their primary degree with a business, marketing or fashion merchandising degree, which is especially important if you’re considering opening your own business or retail store.