Discover the Exciting Possibilities of Fashion School: What You Can Do

Passionate about fashion and considering a career in the industry? Fashion school could be the perfect place to hone your skills and kickstart your journey in the world of fashion.

From learning about design, business, and art to building a strong portfolio and gaining valuable experience, fashion school offers a variety of opportunities to help you succeed. We will explore the types of fashion schools, admission requirements, what you can learn, career opportunities after graduation, and how to make the most of your time in fashion school.

So, grab a seat and let’s dive into the world of fashion education!

Key Takeaways:

  • Fashion school offers a variety of programs, including design, business, and art, to prepare students for careers in the fashion industry.
  • In addition to education, students are expected to have a strong portfolio and relevant experience to be accepted into fashion school.
  • Take advantage of opportunities like networking with professionals, participating in fashion shows, and gaining internship experience to make the most of your time in fashion school and prepare for a successful career.
  • What Is Fashion School?

    Fashion school is an educational institution that offers various degree programs, courses, and internships with a comprehensive survey of the fast-paced, dynamic fashion industry and provides students with technical, analytical, managerial, and theoretical skills. The curriculum includes fashion design, fashion marketing, retail, administration, journalism, motion picture, photography, illustration, history, merchandising, buying, advertising, and psychology. Fashion schools are equipped with specialists as teachers. You can reach a mild to a strict dress code based on the school’s preferences. However, most modern institutions allow self-expression via dress codes.

    What Are the Different Types of Fashion Schools?

    The three main types of fashion schools that you can choose for fashion studies are Four-year schools, specialty schools for fashion design, and online courses.

    Four-year colleges offer a wide range of studies and cost ranges as well as offering programs in general in addition to fashion degrees.

    Specialty schools for fashion design are short-study options that focus primarily on fashion education and move quickly from study to career.

    Online courses are relatively inexpensive and suitable for further upgrading of qualifications on a part-time basis.

    A lot of community colleges also offer two-year fashion programs, which are more focused than an associate’s degree in arts and business. Certificate programs are designed to provide students with short-term specialized knowledge in the field, and allow them to transfer those credits to a degree program or look for jobs more quickly.

    Design Schools

    Fashion design schools are the most well-known in the industry. To be suitable for a job in fashion design, a curriculum at a good fashion design school should cover a wide range of practical experience-based subjects, such as fashion history, fashion illustration, computer-aided drawing (CAD), pattern making, sewing, as well as textile sciences. Notable fashion design schools include Central Saint Martins in London, Parsons School of Design in New York, and the Milan Fashion Campus.

    Business Schools

    In business schools, fashion students receive training that gives them a broad view of the industry, perspectives on global markets and an understanding of the usage of efficient analytic tools. Subjects typically taught in business schools include fashion retail management, marketing, brand strategy, finance, entrepreneurship, and e-commerce and technology. Categories of schools that fall under business schools include undergraduate business programs, MBA programs, and postgraduate programs, including degrees such as Master of Science in Management or Master of Science in Fashion Management.

    Art Schools

    Art schools such as The School of the Art Institute of Chicago or California College of the Arts (CCA) offer undergraduate and graduate fashion design programs and are involved in the full array of fashion career paths.

    Admission and requirements are typically more rigorous than traditional universities offering only a fashion degree. Fit for those who wish to study fashion as an intersectional point across mediums of art, they therefore require foundational programs in arts from students, the costs can be higher and more grants or bursaries may be available. The student body at these institutions is dedicated to participation in every aspect of fashion from creation to admin making connections with the students, faculty, and larger fashion community a highly valuable part of the educational experience.

    The curricular content is expected to be heavily arts and design focused with minimal or no information provided on business programs in fashion. While these schools have a focus on vocational training, part of the arts experience is that career topics are expected to be minimally addressed. The proportion of coursework that is hands-on, educational combinations of coursework and apprenticeships, and overall academic rigor should be heavier in arts and design focused classes than in other types of schools.

    What Are the Requirements for Fashion School?

    The standard requirements for fashion school are substantial prior education in a relevant field, demonstrable artistic talent relevant to fashion design, completion of a portfolio, and qualification under particular admissions requirements for individual programs. Qualifications can range widely but the most highly-ranked fashion universities may have standards that are very difficult to meet.

    For example, to attend the MA Fashion degree at the famed Central Saint Martins (CSM) whose graduates include John Galliano and Stella McCartney, applicants are routed to a general test called the Graduate Diploma in Art and Design followed by submission of a design portfolio, with final consideration made by the admissions panel. According to CSM, the portfolio should demonstrate a range of ideas and solutions, showing plenty of work in progress, both initial ideas and developments of a final outcome, as well as work which shows how you develop your thinking.

    For U.S. fashion schools, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York only requires applicants have a high school diploma with a minimal GPA of 2.5 and pass a standardized test analyzing their classroom knowledge. The academy doesn’t need students to have studied fashion design or art in any formal capacity up to that point, as learning to turn students’ creativity and visualization techniques is intrinsic to a student’s adaptation to a fashion curriculum. Every year, many students come to FIT from totally different backgrounds, and complete the course with not only new knowledge and skills but an understanding and portfolio of the curriculum jewelry, accessory design, and fashion styling.


    An important aspect of fashion school is studying elements of fashion design and aesthetics, fashion marketing and fashion merchandising, and gaining technical skills. Traditional courses are being supplemented and complemented by more recent additions such as digital knowledge, sustainability, social psychology. Plus main occupation while in fashion school, students can gain from advantageous events, optional language classes, further independent reading on the fashion industry, meeting with guest speakers, and other out-of-class curricular activities.


    A fashion school degree requires high-quality work in the form of a physical portfolio. A fashion design portfolio should be a carefully curated collection of visual images, artwork, and a biography which highlights one’s strengths and achievements as a designer or artist. Portfolios in fashion design school are technical and professional in nature and are required for applying to internships and jobs post-graduation.

    There are at least two broad forms of the fashion portfolio. The physical form comprises of a bound document that is less than 1 cm thick. They are typically in an 8.5 inch width x 11-inch height (A4) format but can be a tad bigger or smaller in both dimensions depending on the country. There are also digital fashion portfolios which can include a website (properly optimized for easy browsing on mobile) or pdf. The process of creating a digital portfolio involves shooting, editing, and creating video inserts. Websites and some software off er designers the ability to create virtual three-dimensional portfolios.

    When preparing your fashion portfolio, try shooting flat lay photos of the work you are including. These are photos taken directly above and give the viewer the best possible visual representation of the work. Use a high-quality camera, never a phone, a tripod, lighting (never from overhead), a clean background, and make sure the shot includes the work from beginning to end and in its complete form. Most people, 81% according to Search Engine People, skim digital portfolios and read 20% of what is written. One way to grasp their attention is to use graphically appealing, and information-dense infographics with statistics and figures that illustrate your skillset.

    An essential fashion portfolio website is Issuu which fashion designer students can join for free. They are a marketplace with a vast collection of fashion portfolios for students. Web platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly (though not as impressive) offer easy portfolio creation software that will turn the student’s portfolio into an attractive and impactful pdf.

    A student’s fashion portfolio should build outward from the best designs in their sketchbook. They should consider using fashion collections they have produced as a focus of the portfolio and make sure their portfolio contains smaller projects if their college or university work focused on larger projects.

    The website Study Fashion shares examples of the best academic fashion portfolios. Their example shows the best collections of 3-6 looks that are connected by a concept or idea that provides unity. The looks are constructed around signature pieces and highlights which are intentionally visually powerful. The portfolio shows inspiration and method from the sketchbook which included research, ideas, photographs, design development, swatches, and making up.


    Experience refers to experiential learning assignments that supplement the coursework with real-world applications. It ranges from practical projects in school and participation in student competitions to internships for credit or as part of the curriculum. All of these are different forms of experience you can gain locally or internationally during your fashion school studies. Several fashion schools have study-abroad programs in place where you can attend school in another country and gain a different kind of experience in the process. O’More College of Design is a popular choice for study abroad to gain experience.

    What Can You Learn in Fashion School?

    Content in a fashion school curriculum generally follows a bachelor’s or associate degree track. Bachelor programs typically run for four years while associate degree programs take roughly two years to complete. They are designed to provide students with knowledge and experiences in subjects relevant to the working fashion industry such as merchandising, business, design, technology, and of course the history and sociology of fashion.

    Examples of courses taken in fashion school include Elements of Textile Design, Apparel Production, Professional Practices and Portfolio Development, Historic Costume Design, Social and Political Influences in American Apparel, Business, and Economics, or Psychology of Dress and Fashion.

    What you can learn in fashion school falls into two categories: technical skills and designing. Technical skills include fashion drawing, sewing, manual pattern drafting, draping, and grading. Advanced technology now plays a major role in fashion trending, sourcing, design, and prototyping, and fashion students are learning how to use programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Gerber Technology, AIMS360, or Blue Cherry to automate and scale the design process. Treehouse and Udemy both offer online courses on using these platforms.

    Fashion Design

    In fashion design school, you learn the concept of fashion from creative designers in the clothing, footwear, and bags industries. In labs and studios, you create new fashion products, select materials, sketch designs, research consumer markets, and work with computer-aided design tools. Then, as part of a class or throughout the final year of your program, students participate in group shows displaying their garments for classmates, friends, and potential employers.

    Textile Design

    • In fashion school, textile design pertains to developing an understanding of the physical structure and behavior of textile materials and engineered materials linking fashion with new technologies.
    • The Fashion Institute of Technology ‘s (FIT) Textile Development and Marketing (TDM) Bachelor of Art program features a dynamic, multidisciplinary field that examines the art, materiality, manufacture, and distribution of fashion textiles, soft goods, and products.

    The importance of the engineered environment linking the fashion textile complex to the larger technological system which exists in the home, sports, transportation, aeronautic, medical, and other diverse fields is studied.

    Design, technology, product development, marketing, merchandising, international business, sustainable practices, and other facets of agricultural, civil, environmental, polymer, and marketing elements make up the TDM curriculum at Fashion Institute of Technology. Entry requirements usually include portfolios of artwork from prospective students.

    Fashion Merchandising

    Fashion merchandising is the process of economically buying and selling fashion products by associating finished goods with the demand while forecasting to achieve potential fashion sales. This is a four-year fashion educational program course where students learn a combination of merchandising, business, and advertising skills using applied and critical coursework via the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising as an example of a program which grants a B.A. degree in this educational field. Fashion research uses past evidence and theoretical principles to aid in designing, producing, selling, and marketing products or providing services in the clothing and fashion sectors. Merchandisers are heavily involved in the process of marketing as well.

    Fashion Marketing and Communications

    The fashion marketing and communications degree teaches students the skills required to create, manage, and analyze marketing strategies. It also teaches the use of the media (digital and social, in particular), to promote brand/image enhancement and sales development for the fashion product.

    The course includes marketing and communications theoretical foundations in economic and humanistic disciplines, the perspectives of scholars of the industry, methodological theories, and real-life case studies.

    Fashion Business and Management

    The BA (Hons) Business Management and Entrepreneurship degree at Northumbria University‘s school of design includes a semester abroad at the Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris. Admissions are structured around application portfolios and interviews focusing on academic knowledge, potential as design leaders, professional suitability of the programs for career development, and language proficiency if needed. A diploma thesis is followed by an integrative project. Tuition can be as low as about $9000 per year, though fees vary and scholarships are sometimes available.

    What Are the Career Opportunities After Graduating from Fashion School?

    The career opportunities after graduating from fashion school include Fashion Designer, Creative Director, Fashion Photographer, Fashion Journalist, Fashion Buyer, and nearly every other position involved in the production and maintenance of clothing.

    According to the London College of Fashion at the University of the Arts London, the two principal areas graduates work in are design and materials – dealing with design conception, fashion, textiles, shoes, and fashion accessories – and communication and management, in which people are trained to present fashion and new trends using advertising, marketing, public relations, and visual merchandising.

    The below table shows the top industries 2015 fashion graduates from the London College of Fashion work in according to the Creative Pool survey.

    1. Design: 26%
    2. Marketing: 21%
    3. Production: 19%
    4. Retail and Merchandising: 11%
    5. Others: 3%

    Fashion Designer

    A fashion designer uses training and knowledge of textiles, garment construction, and pattern drafting to design and create innovative clothing and accessories. A day in the life of a designer includes sketching, attending consultations, selecting fabrics, problem-solving to ensure safe and comfortable garments, and overseeing product development from conception to production.

    Designers frequently collaborate with marketing analysts to identify potential customer demand and to determine certain cut-off dates for product release to meet purchasing cycles. Clothing and accessory designers earn a median annual wage of $73,790 according to 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the United States. Earnings depend on a designer’s name, marketing, an industry brand, and economic growth rates. The following table lists less well-known design categories in which designers with fashion school degrees or similar certifications can apply their skills. Advertising campaigns for new product placement, trade show displays for companies seeking to break into new markets, catalogs of buying groups and departments, and product line overhauls, can be designed by layout artists such as fashion graduates. Graphic designers with MBAs in fashion business can adapt logos, promotional images, and other visual aspects of a company’s brand for use in different media or for different events. Freelancers or for design firms develop promotional and marketing materials. Footwear designers design, research, evaluate, and oversee the manufacturing of shoes or boots, requiring a mind as imaginative as it is technical. Leather workers design and sometimes manufacture belts, wallets, sashes, sheaths, saddlebags, and other accessories with a strong focus on sourcing high-quality hides and leathers. When combined with a product development degree, fashion designers who create personal and home accessories work in categories that include candles, notebooks, sporting equipment, decor, pillows, sheets, and toys.

    Fashion Buyer

    In fashion schools, buyers develop and apply their strong analytical skills and business acumen in order to decide which of their retail brand’s clothes to pick from which designers and manufacturers, how many pieces, sizes, and types to buy, and the maximum price they are willing to pay for them while still making a profit.

    One focuses on budgeting, pricing, workflow management, occupancy rates, distribution plans, and staff scheduling in addition to building deals with suppliers and designers. Strong negotiation and relationship management skills are a must as a buyer’s income is directly related to their agreement. They must always have the pulse of the fashion marketplace and customers trends (Copyright n.d.).

    The growth in internet shopping and decline in traditional department stores has played a significant role in the typical duties of a retail buyer. Their goal is to stay ahead of trends (published in Fashion Marketing 2013). Buying careers normally start out in supplier support roles, gradually transitioning into garment purchasing. Assembling a personal portfolio early on to demonstrate skills and market trends to possible future employers is a good survival tool (Friedman 2014).

    Fashion Merchandiser

    Fashion merchandising is another important specialty in fashion design schools. These experts decide how a product is produced, packaged, delivered, and sold to the customer. The UNA Fashion School program provides students with in-depth knowledge of the fashion industry including accessories, business, management, and theory/challenges of fashion merchandising. The program requires its students to think and act in a global context.

    Any fashion school that includes formal education and training in this specialization will provide students with foundational knowledge across a wide array of subjects. They will study retail management, marketing, retail buying and assortment planning, e-commerce, financial analysis, retail operations, and globalization.

    Fashion Marketer

    A fashion marketer is a key role in a fast-growing and complex area of business. It involves promoting fashion products using various marketing and advertising strategies that will maintain and increase brand recognition of a product or product line. It’s a type of fashion art school, with fashion knowledge at the core.

    To pursue a career as a fashion marketer, one has to start by attending a fashion school or art school and taking up the course in fashion marketing. It’s an exciting and challenging role that offers a wide choice of career paths across design, brand management, advertising, and online retailing.

    Fashion marketing can be pursued as a major or minor in an undergraduate or postgraduate fashion or art degree. The field generally involves practical, hands-on team and project work, along with coursework in fashion, business, social psychology, and market research methods.

    To focus a career in the specific field of online marketing, an article by BrainBox Content about the skills needed for online marketing suggests that students take up a computer science or information technology degree. But to focus a career in the specific field of fashion marketing, a fashion marketing, fashion management, or even a graphic design degree can help you find a perfect job.

    Fashion Stylist

    Developing the skills and knowledge to fulfill every role in styling in preparation to specialize in menswear, womenswear, or a brand signing. Fashion stylists work behind the scenes at fashion events, or they can take it to the next level and work on a luxury brand’s fashion styling AKA Visual Merchandising team. Expensive clothing items that a fashion stylist chooses may be £10 or £10,000.

    How Can You Make the Most of Your Time in Fashion School?

    You can make the most of your time in fashion school by focusing time and energy on developing a professional, academic, and social network. The cafeterias, hallways, libraries, student unions, labs, lecture rooms, and lobbies are all places where real friendships form that can help get jobs and collaborations after school. Dedicating time to school fashion clubs including involvement in student production or organization of school fashion shows is another way to develop a network.

    Try to meet with as many students and faculty as possible and attend job and networking events from as early on in your program as possible. Scheduling interviews with professors or professionals in the industry to discuss their experience and get feedback on your career interests and coursework is another useful activity while in fashion school. Do informational interviews with working designers, and other industry professionals to understand the industry they work in. Spend internships evaluating and developing relationships within the company to build a ladder of contacts.

    Students should maintain a part-time job and try to accumulate at least one internship, even if unpaid. High levels of GPA are important, but only one small part of getting hired, developing long-term capital to land a job. Cities with employment opportunities make it more likely students will remain in the fashion industry after graduation. Certain programs such as the Parsons Teen Vogue Certificate Programs, Fashion Institute of Technology Courses, and five-day workshops taught by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Belgium at the Saatchi Gallery in London can provide a more enjoyable yet in-depth learning experience.

    Network with Industry Professionals

    Networking with fashion professionals in an academic context provides opportunities to learn directly from the professionals. One major piece of advice put forth by the CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers, Steven Kolb, is to use your school years to actively build relationships with other classmates, as well as with industry professionals you may meet during student exchanges, internships, and study tours. This is where you grow your industry connections which can reap benefits in the job market once you graduate.

    An admission counselor from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in California underscores the importance of establishing relationships with teachers and meeting people already in the industry.

    There are different ways to network with professionals. Students should inquire with student services to see what opportunities for networking are available. Businesses may reach out to their professors to arrange a meet-and-greet with students, or may offer seminars to colleges offering fashion degrees, as a few examples to get started. Here are several ideas of other ways to network with professionals as a fashion student(In Summary:

    1. Networking with professionals provides learning opportunities.
    2. Bridge relationships with professionals already in the industry.
    3. Learn more by exchanging with professors and fellow students searching out opportunities through study tours, internships, and more.
    4. Take advantage of networking events and associations both on-campus and throughout the region.


    Participate in Fashion Shows and Competitions

    Participating in fashion shows and competitions is one of the more interesting aspects of many fashion school curricula. Participation is almost always optional, but it gives students an opportunity to take their theoretical work and apply it to a real world situation. Creativity enables them to design clothing that excites and stimulates minds. Their business and management learnings help them plan, organize, and run a fashion show. For those students who appreciate facing real-world pressures, working in highly collaborative environments, and have a quick reaction time, participating in fashion shows and fashion design competitions is a fantastic way to broaden their perspectives and portfolios.

    Gain Internship Experience

    Another highlight of going to fashion school is the potential you may land an internship to solidify your career path. Near the end of your design degree, schools usually have some kind of internship program that helps place you in a company, designer, or studio that interests you. While there, you can get some real-world experience and make some important network connections. This is an essential step to determine if fashion is something you really have an enduring passion for. To be successful you will need to make you sure you can handle the entire environment of the industry. You will learn whether you want to work at a large corporation or a small designer brand, if your passion is applied to sales design merchandising or production, which country has the types of products you wish to design, which materials are most common, and which climate is best for fast fashion or seasonal clothing lines. These insights are impossible to gain from a classroom and they are essential before embarking on your fashion career.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Can I Do in Fashion School?

    Fashion school offers a variety of opportunities for students who are passionate about the fashion industry. Below are some of the things you can do in fashion school.

    What types of courses are offered in fashion school?

    Fashion school offers a range of courses in different areas of the fashion industry, such as fashion design, merchandising, marketing, and production. Students can choose to specialize in a specific area or take a variety of courses to gain a well-rounded education.

    Can I learn about fashion history in fashion school?

    Yes, fashion history is often included in the curriculum of fashion school. Learning about the evolution of fashion and its impact on society can provide valuable insights for aspiring fashion professionals.

    Are internships available in fashion school?

    Many fashion schools offer internships as part of their program or have connections with fashion companies to provide internship opportunities for students. This allows students to gain hands-on experience and make valuable connections in the industry.

    Can I participate in fashion shows in fashion school?

    Yes, fashion schools often organize fashion shows for students to showcase their designs and gain experience in event planning and production. This is a great opportunity to receive feedback from industry professionals and build a portfolio.

    What career opportunities are available after graduating from fashion school?

    Graduates from fashion school can pursue various careers in the fashion industry, such as fashion designer, buyer, merchandiser, stylist, or marketing and PR professional. The skills and knowledge gained in fashion school can also be applied to other industries, such as retail or media.

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