Discover What You’ll Learn in Fashion School: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you passionate about fashion and considering pursuing a career in the industry?

Fashion school may be the perfect choice for you.

In this article, we will explore what fashion school is and the different types available, from traditional to online and vocational schools.

We will also delve into the common courses offered, such as fashion design and marketing, and the valuable skills developed, including creativity and business acumen.

Stay tuned to discover the exciting career opportunities awaiting fashion school graduates!

Key Takeaways:

  • Fashion school offers a variety of courses such as fashion design, textile design, and fashion marketing, among others.
  • Skills developed in fashion school include creativity, technical skills, and business and marketing skills.
  • Fashion school graduates can pursue careers as fashion designers, textile designers, fashion buyers, fashion stylists, fashion journalists, and fashion marketers.
  • What is Fashion School?

    Fashion school is specialized educational institutions for studies that include fashion design, merchandising, management, and marketing of fashion and clothing. Royal College of Art in England and Parsons School of Design in the US are examples of top schools in this field. These schools offer fashion design, fashion business, fashion management, fashion studies, and other degree programs, some of which focus on sustainability and technology in fashion futures.

    What are the Different Types of Fashion Schools?

    There are two main types of fashion schools: conventional brick and mortar schools and online fashion schools. A conventional school requires students to attend in-person, travel to and spend money on lodgings near campus, spend time traveling to and from campus, and follow the academic calendar specific assigned times to attend class.

    Online schools are designed to be studied away from a traditional campus and allow students to access the academic experience from home or other places. The high cost of college coupled with changing employment patterns have highlighted the quality of online degree programs while giving students the ability to learn from anywhere and at their own pace without having to remain in a physical location for a length of time.

    Many traditional fashion design programs do not lend themselves to an online environment as they often include on-campus life, materials and facilities, study-abroad options, part-time faculty who are professional designers, the ability of students to construct garments in a regulated environment with cutting tables, dress forms, and sewing machines, and on-site fashion shows using live models or graphical software. Traditional classroom settings in fashion schools remain an essential aspect of acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge from hands-on experience in designing and constructing clothing as well as other aspects of the business.

    Online fashion schools off the flexibility of studying from any location and at any time as an advantage and may be used to complete foundational courses.

    Traditional Fashion Schools

    • American traditional fashion schools offer two and four-year study programs
    • Two-year Associates degrees are available at community and junior colleges with relatively stricter but general academic qualifications for admission. Students generally enroll in either an associates degree in fashion design, fashion merchandising, or fashion marketing
    • Four-year Bachelor’s degrees are available at universities and higher-end colleges. There are generally limited seats, requiring a portfolio for acceptance, and students must generally focus on a particular area of interest such as design, merchandising, or business
    • Non-traditional schools and course selection can allow for different restrictions based on the mission, vision, and goals of the institution

    Online Fashion Schools

    There are several online fashion schools throughout the world with courses in costuming, dancewear design, homeware, stage, and design focusing on technical materials. Schools such as Fashion Campus NYC offer best-in-class online designing e-courses covering a wide range of topics. Online learning has become prominent due to recent times, and many reputable schools such as Parsons and Istituto Marangoni offer some of their classes online.

    Vocational Fashion Schools

    Vocational schools and technical colleges are career and technical education (CTE) programs that teach specific skilled trades. Vocational fashion schools such as FIDM in Los Angeles and Istituto Marangoni in Milano provide shorter and more direct training that focuses on applying cosmetic beauty such as makeup, hairdressing, and some peripheral aspects of fashion such as visual merchandizing and retail management.

    What are the Common Courses Offered in Fashion School?

    Common courses offered in fashion school include garment/flat pattern making, marketing, business management, fashion buying and planning, fashion studies, textiles, costume history, industrial sewing operations, and more.

    There are various tracks students can focus on within these majors, such as ready-to-wear/simple apparel, advanced apparel, special occasion/custom apparel, accessories, and bridal gowns.

    Fashion Design

    Fashion design is creating original clothing items that fit aesthetic, functional, and commercial requirements. Fashion Designers work with a wide range of materials and production techniques, from cutting and sewing natural or synthetic textiles to creative use of textile printing, embroidery, and weaving. They may produce individualized prototypes, small runs for collection themes, or clothing lines for industrial mass production. If students are pursuing a career in design, assistants should appreciate the elements of design, three-dimensional design, and two-dimensional design complements from the lighting, posing, or space in architectural interiors to some extent. Additionally, the department needs to study apparel technology, apparel science, apparel and sales marketing, fashion management, pricing and budgeting, and fashion trade theory as well as research methods from consumer behavior to computer-assisted design (CAD), as well as innovative technologies. Usually, in bachelor’s programs, some electives are obtained in second- or third-hand clothing. Fashion design graduates are often employed in theater, motion picture, and television wardrobe design.

    Textile Design

    Textile design is the art of combining materials and fibers to create new finishes that can be used in fashion, interior design, technical textiles, and other material applications. Textile designers rotate around researching, studying, and obtaining information for new trends, working with different yarns and fabrics, and getting to know hand techniques and digital tools which are used to transfer initial ideas to a drawing board.

    Fashion Merchandising

    You Study Fashion Merchandising in fashion school, which covers Business classes and Local retail storefront management to E-commerce and Textile Science. Typically, these degrees are either in Fashion Merchandising or Fashion Marketing. The former takes on the service aspects of fashion commerce (such as customer service and retail management), whilst the latter focuses more on the commercial aspects (such as marketing and advertising).

    Really, any sort of business knowledge from finances to customer management can be applied to the expansive fashion industry through earning this degree. The primary goal of a Fashion Merchandising degree is to prepare students to enter, or advance within, the fashion retail or manufacturing sectors. Students can focus on Fashion Merchandising at the undergraduate level by pursuing either an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science degree. This encompassing industry study covers marketing, fashion business brand management, American manufacturing, ethics, and more.

    Fashion Marketing

    Fashion marketing uses advertising, PR, influencer relationships, visual merchandising, and other disciplines to communicate a brand’s image and aid in sales. Whether at a trade show, in a window display, on a company’s website, or in a superbowl commercial, fashion marketing connects a brand’s identity to its customer.

    For all these reasons, it is a key part of what is studied in fashion school. Fashion marketing programs are taught at specialized fashion schools, at traditional universities often in conjunction with either school’s marketing department or fashion school, and even via online programs. degrees these programs offer include Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

    Common courses offered include Adobe Illustrator, Business of Beauty and Fashion, Buying and Merchandising, Consumer Research, Fashion Branding, Fashion Merchandising at the Retail Level, Global Luxury Fashion Management, International Marketing Strategies, Management of Strategic Plans, Marketing Communication Strategy, Principles of Fashion, Product Development Process, Strategic Planning in the Luxury Sector, Supply Chain Management .

    Some representative courses are given in the degrees from fashion schools listed above.

    Fashion Journalism

    The Fashion Design Department at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA offers a Bachelor of Science program in Fashion Design & Merchandising with a Concentration in Fashion Journalism. The program prepares students for a variety of careers in fashion journalism writing, technique instruction, and consulting area. Students can choose to take specialized fashion journalism courses including Fashion Show Production, Fashion Feature Writing, and Visual Merchandising and Promotion.

    Fashion Business Management

    Fashion business management is the discipline that encompasses economics, sociology, and industrial engineering. It teaches how to run a large fashion organization, how to design and implement distribution strategies, and how to apply the principles of efficiency to the clothing production chain. The purpose of a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree in fashion business management is to allow individuals to locate the core competences of a firm and then develop and implement a successful branding, promotional, logistics, and retailing strategy for targeting a specific segment of the market. One of the main priorities of a fashion business administration program is to blend coursework with experiments. Consequently, many of these programs offer learners the opportunity to take advantage of internships and overseas experiences to implement their class education into a real environment before graduation.

    The curriculum of a Fashion Business Management BFA covers a variety of subjects that can provide the foundational knowledge required for a career in the fashion industry. These courses typically include art history, color theory, textile identification and selection, fashion design, vonsumer behavior, advertising and promotions management, social behavior, fundamentals of management, fashion marketing research, retailing principles, economics, statistics, merchandising and buying, and international marketing.

    What Skills are Developed in Fashion School?

    The skills developed in fashion school are mostly technical skills specific to the area of focus. Core fashion design skills include understanding design elements, pattern making, and advanced tailoring skills, all of which are necessary in creating high-quality clothing. Non-core fashion design technical skills include sketching and the ability to work with CAD programs such as Adobe CC and Lectra, among others. CAD for fashion should not be confused with Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), which is used before the design stage.

    The technical side of fashion design studies is now as important as the creative side of the business. One of the reasons for this is the increased use of technology in creating clothes and accessories. Fashion students can expect to spend time learning about new technologies in materials, production, and distribution, as well as in the fields of marketing, communications, and commerce.


    In fashion schools, creativity is studied as the initiation or production of any new idea that has value, expressiveness, or functionality. Robina Ruth Ayub from Pakistan’s Lahore Fashion School views Seattle Academy of Arts & Sciences’ course description as a good example. It defines creativity in fashion as studying the essential elements of design—conceptual, perceptual, and expressive—that are integral to problem-solving and innovation within the fashion sector. Creativity is transmitted not just to one’s own design or atelier but to marketing and job management as well.

    Technical Skills

    A fashion school’s primary focus is to train students in all areas of design including sewing, drawing, measuring, and production. Students studying garment technology learn how a garment is made from thread to finished product. Design classes focus on drawing, draping, and patternmaking. This knowledge base is used when working in clothing production or even further down the supply chain. It is taught in practical coursework and experienced through internships or lab practicals where the students are making garments themselves. Technical skills are separate and different from theoretical underpinnings, being the actual, hands-on manner in which the specifics of pattern cutting, garment finishing, and other practical techniques are carried out. They build on the theoretical foundations which students have been taught.

    Business and Marketing Skills

    Students at many fashion schools study business skills to prepare for the management of their own fashion businesses. These business and marketing courses emphasize strategic planning, which is important for students as it extends beyond the classroom and onto the runway. This mastery helps students to communicate effectively with designers and articulate the brand to public or trade press, as well as develop communication goals and a mission and vision for the brand that will guide other leaders within the company.

    Many schools offer courses in the following sub-fields of Business and Marketing study to introduce students to this field:

    • Merchandising Essentials and Strategies
    • Digital Marketing Tools
    • Global Fashion Branding
    • Fashion Business Law
    • Ethical Fashion Business
    • Strategic Brand Management
    • Mass Customization and Sustainability
    • Retail Analytics and Consumer Insights

    Communication and Presentation Skills

    Many fashion schools offer courses that cover the basics of communication and presentation skills. In the fast-paced world of fashion, presenting and speaking with confidence is critical to success. These skills are often honed in professional presentations and portfolio workshops, and even unique opportunities to practice on the runway. Portfolio building is key to all these skills, as having an easily digital or print-accessible method to present oneself is critical.

    What are the Career Opportunities for Fashion School Graduates?

    The list of career opportunities for graduates of fashion school is extensive. Marymount University in the United States lists the following career opportunities:

    • Apparel production management.
    • Brand and product management.
    • Costume design/styling.
    • Fashion buying and merchandising.
    • Fashion entrepreneurship.
    • Fashion forecasting.
    • Fashion product development.
    • Fashion public relations.
    • Fashion styling/image consulting.
    • Fashion journalism/criticism/publicity.

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, professions such as textile designers, fabric and apparel patternmakers, and jewelry and metals artists are possible careers as well.

    The Ryerson School of Fashion in Canada notes that graduates of fashion programs work as designers, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, product developers, direction retail and management, event managers, merchandising managers, art directors, publicists, buyers, illustrators, and pre-production managers.

    In summary, there are very many career opportunities for fashion graduates, including being a designer, professor, fashion journalist, illustrator, stylist, marketer, salesperson, and more. Qualified candidates can look for jobs anywhere in the world, and the field is notorious for having high levels of self-employment.

    Fashion Designer

    Fashion design is the study of creating clothing, shoes, and accessories that are both aesthetically appealing and functional. Fashion designers may be involved in every aspect of designing new products from concept to prototype, and may specialize in such areas as accessories, footwear, or clothing for men and women. Fashion designers are expected to know how to use tools such as Photoshop, InDesign, CorelDraw, Wilcom, and the Microsoft Office suite.

    Textile Designer

    A Textile Designer focuses on the creation and design of fabric or surface pattern designs and is specifically called out by the University of Minnesota as one of the fields with the most common major/minor bachelor’s degrees in apparel design. Textile designers may work for themselves as freelance designers, or major in-house design departments within fashion and home product companies.

    In the 2021-2022 US the average salary for a textile designer is $66,492 according to Those with 0-2 years of experience earn an average of $41,660.

    Fashion Buyer

    Fashion schools do not teach you how to be a fashion buyer. You can study fashion management, business, or marketing, which gives you the possibility to become a fashion buyer, though this is not the central focus of the curriculum. Fashion buyers are responsible for selecting and purchasing products to sell based on their belief that these products will help the retail outlet to meet sales plans. They travel to meet buyers in different cities around the world to understand the current fashion trends to help an outlet retail fashionable products which will lead to growth.

    Fashion Stylist

    A stylist is a satellite career in fashion industry roles. The role of a fashion stylist in fashion school is not studies as often as other roles but is crucial to fashion industry careers. Their profession is more related to the taste, form, and artistic nature of an individual rather than patterns, structures, or silhouettes. Only a few courses focus entirely on fashion stylist careers, offering insights into wardrobe selection, identifying styles, and fashion journalist-oriented design.

    Fashion Journalist

    A ‘fashion journalist’ is a reporter, journalist, editor, or correspondent of fashion and lifestyle news and trends, which are typically covered in consumer/ trade print, digital, audio, and video media to service international, national, and local markets (Journalism Dictionary). A fashion journalist reports about the brands, people, and places of fashion, beauty, and luxury, and they must be well-versed with advanced knowledge of fashion and strong writing, probing, visual, and communication skills. As a result, they are required to learn about fashion design, fashion history, fashion theory, ethics and experimental thinking as part of their formal education, from which they receive a degree in fashion journalism or communications. Among their duties they will write stories for magazines, websites, newspapers, or have a TV or radio spot that covers fashion, which frequently extends to consumer topics such as shopping, style and beauty, as well as industry-specific topics such as production or manufacturing of goods or history and the state of local fashion marketplaces.

    Fashion Marketer

    Fashion marketers initiate, develop, and implement marketing strategies for a company/brand or a specific product. They analyze consumer behavior, manage the marketing budget, and develop strategies to increase business through a number of tactics. These can include digital marketing, advertisements, public relations, and brand sponsorships. Bachelor’s in Fashion Marketing and Merchandising and Bachelor’s in Apparel and Textile Marketing Management programs are two of the programs that provide skills and knowledge associated with the fields. These include Fashion Business, and Media and Marketing Communication to fashion students. Fashion marketing, also known as fashion management or fashion merchandising, is one of the most popular degree programs and career directions in the fashion industry as it combines fashion knowledge with business and marketing skills. Fashion marketers must have a blend of creativity, original thought, critical decision-making, and analysis that allows them to solve complex business problems quickly. In many cases, companies and universities have partnerships to have students do real-world projects which allows for hands-on work in the industry and enhances the education experience that can add to a resume.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Do You Study in Fashion School?

    Fashion school is a popular choice for those interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry. Here are some commonly asked questions about what you can expect to study in fashion school.

    What are the core subjects taught in fashion school?

    The core subjects taught in fashion school include design, pattern making, textiles, fashion history, and marketing. These courses provide a strong foundation for a career in the fashion industry.

    Do fashion schools offer specialized courses?

    Yes, many fashion schools offer specialized courses in areas such as fashion merchandising, fashion journalism, and fashion photography. These courses allow students to focus on a specific aspect of the industry.

    What skills can I expect to learn in fashion school?

    In addition to technical skills such as sewing and pattern making, fashion school also teaches students skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These skills are essential for success in the fashion industry.

    Are there opportunities for hands-on experience in fashion school?

    Yes, many fashion schools offer internships and other hands-on experiences to give students real-world experience in the industry. These opportunities allow students to apply their skills and knowledge in a professional setting.

    Is a degree from a fashion school necessary to work in the fashion industry?

    While a degree from a fashion school can provide a strong foundation for a career in the industry, it is not always necessary. Many successful fashion professionals have gained experience through internships and on-the-job training.

    What should I look for in a fashion school?

    When choosing a fashion school, it is important to consider factors such as the curriculum, faculty, resources, and opportunities for hands-on experience. It is also beneficial to research the school’s alumni and their success in the industry.

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