Discover the Top Fashion Schools for Aspiring Designers

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

Fashion schools could be the perfect starting point for you.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of attending a fashion school, what makes a good fashion school, and how to choose the right one for you. From learning the fundamentals of design to gaining industry knowledge and connections, we will cover everything you need to know to kickstart your fashion career.

So, let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways:

  • A good fashion school will provide a strong curriculum, experienced faculty, and access to resources and facilities, giving students the foundation they need to succeed in the industry.
  • Attending a fashion school can help students develop technical skills, gain industry knowledge and connections, and receive valuable feedback and critiques from professionals in the field.
  • When choosing a fashion school, it’s important to consider your career goals, research the school’s reputation and alumni success, visit the campus, and compare tuition and financial aid options.
  • What Are Fashion Schools?

    According to the Wikipedia definition, fashion schools (or fashion design schools, fashion merchandising schools, etc.) are educational institutions of higher, postsecondary education dedicated to providing instruction and research in the field of art and science of textile, garment, and fashion design. These institutions primarily subordinate themselves toward providing research and teaching the various industrial practices, planning, marketing and merchandising of fashion clothing (or haute couture). Fashion schools exist because the field is broad and extends past clothes to include textiles, accessories, footwear, and more and a dedicated school of study allows for a thorough understanding of the field.

    Such schools are generally categorized as such because they offer degree programs designed to prepare graduates to work in or related to the fashion business. These programs may include course offerings on apparel production, fashion design history, three-dimensional design and production (cutting, draping, and construction), technical design, data analysis and visualization, product innovation and development, materials science respectively, and comprehension of color and visual language.

    Why Attend a Fashion School?

    You should attend a fashion school if you value the importance of brand-building in the fashion world and understand the rigorous discipline, technical training, and liberal arts background needed to rise to the competition of the market. Fashion is becoming increasingly global, digital, and competitive, and schools help designers adapt, learn, and grow with the times while helping them build networks and secure internships and often launching jobs.

    In a fashion school, students can expect to learn about the technical training required to become fashion designers, photographers, fashion sustainability specialists, makeup artists, beauty products technology experts, or fashion journalists. They will also have opportunities for business and brand development, both for the general knowledge they need to work in a team, and to market and manage their own business. Senior Whitney Gilbert from Georgia Southern University says, You learn how to adapt your skills and mind to finding a structure and order to any picture you are trying to compose. You are learning how to adapt your eye and mind with your hands to effectively make something creative.

    Learn the Fundamentals of Design

    The most valuable aspect of studying design is being trained in the fundamentals of fashion design: illustration and design of pattern and clothing-line-building concepts. These learned skills can be taken with you throughout your entire career. Even if you never or seldom design clothing, designing it may help you understand and appreciate how quality, cost, and time-to-market are tied together — and make you strive to find a degree of excellence with which few other careers can compete.

    Develop Technical Skills

    Technical skills that can be developed and practiced at the best fashion schools include flat pattern making, draping, clothing construction methods, computer-aided design (CAD) for both textiles and garment design, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and most importantly the use of industrial machines. While traditional practices can be useful for artistic and bespoke clothing production, technical skills give designers the ability to quickly learn and implement new production ideas.

    Technical skills in the fashion industry often require extensive and specific practice. Fashion students should seek out the best fashion schools for learning technical skills. These schools often have smaller class sizes where more specialized attention can be given. Schools with faculty that have direct industry experience are the best choices as they can provide strong recommendations and network opportunities to help with job placement after the course is completed. Fashion students should also look for colleges offering the opportunity for mentorship with professionals in the industry.

    Gain Industry Knowledge and Connections

    Fashion schools are good for gaining industry knowledge and connections. These schools hold events like Fashion Weeks and graduation fashion shows. Sometimes they receive high-profile guests, and many schools require internships or work placements, all of which may help you in carving your path in the fashion industry.

    According to fashion writer Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times, American students have seen their career prospects narrowed by the administrative requirements of their schools. Ms. Friedman mentions that the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York no longer allows students to assist independent designers during New York Fashion Week because it is too much of a risk. Jonathan A. Johnson of the Wall Street Journal also mentions that design majors in California averaged $27,400 in debt, while those in New York had an average debt of $12,000.

    Receive Feedback and Critiques

    Students in fashion schools develop their craft and are taught to think critically about fashion. It is important that fashion school students verbally and non-verbally communicate their thoughts, and are given avenues to express and receive feedback. This is what distinguishes art from fashion – there is an element of uniformity even in bold, outlandish trends that set fashion apart from other art forms.

    Lynn Lucius, professor of Art History and Design at Buena Vista University states, `Some art may unusually promote introspective or emotional responses and abstract art – art and installations which provide a natural or built space within which individuals and groups can actively intersect – are tailored specifically to provide open-ended contexts for reflection, curiosity, sense-making, and connection by some combination of constructed or naturally existing cultural, ecological, and spatial relational structures. At its best, such art facilitates a connection between human inner predictive models and other surface structures that promotes curiosity and imagination, and may enhance wellbeing, support healing, foster understanding, and change behavior` (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health).

    Fashion, on the other hand, is intended to be beautiful and awe-inspiring and in context of the everyday world. Restraint and stem but evocative motifs are critical if artistic styles can become commercially successful fashion. For fashion to work it must have a functional, commercial, wearable aspect.

    This is why the mixing of art museums and fashion schools into a single entity distorts both institutions. The Tate Modern has emphasized that their fashion-related exhibitions are a reflection of the contemporary period and therefore are complementary to art and preserve the underlying viticulture and reflections that artist intended. If you want to produce tomorrow’s cutting-edge fashion designers ensure that they can meet the basic requirements of beauty and wearability, instead of losing the essence of fashion and turning into creators of artistic concepts).

    What Makes a Good Fashion School?

    Attributes to look for to determine what makes a fashion school good are location and market proximity, industry partnerships, and extracurricular programs. A school’s physical presence in the fashion capital where you wish to work after graduation can be a significant academic advantage. Schools located near a fashion capital should either have a satellite campus or provide continuous opportunities for students to interact with the fashion industry in that city.

    According to the Business of Fashion’s annual ranking of the top global fashion schools for undergraduates, the degree program at London’s Central Saint Martins boasts the best contact with the fashion industry of any school they assessed in 2020. Having strong school/fashion industry partnerships is mutually beneficial for both the students and the fashion industry.

    Students get real-world experience and the faculty stays professionally active which helps them develop new ideas and ensure curriculum relevance. In return, the fashion company has a continuous pipeline of new ideas from students and graduates to help with both recruiting and product development. Fashion schools may offer extracurricular clubs and activities, but students may also be able to seek internships with other companies not directly affiliated (but often still partnered) with the school. The success of these programs is a good indicator of the school’s efficiency in integrating students into the fashion industry.


    Accreditation is the process used in the US to ensure that institutions of higher learning meet certain standards for educational quality. Accreditation is an essential baseline factor that determines if a fashion school is considered good or not and shows that the school meets certain minimal academic and financial standards. If a school does not have any accreditation or has only regional rather than specialized/national accreditation, this could suggest that it does not meet these minimum standards.

    Experienced Faculty

    Gaining a wealth of experience within the fashion industry does not merely refer to having been in the field for a long time. When evaluating the faculty of schools, ensure that they are a combination of established academics and fashion professionals.

    Experts are usually more skilled educators and have deep relationships that can greatly benefit their students’ development. For example, the New York School of Design has a faculty that is drawn from both the academic and professional world which creates a rich and diverse learning experience.

    The distinction between a fashion professional and a fashion expert is not always clear because the two can overlap. When looking at a school’s faculty, be sure to determine the professional experience in the field as well as unique expertise within academics. In this way, you can be sure that the large wealth of knowledge within the field of fashion being passed down to students is as up-to-date and in-depth as possible.

    Before applying, ask the admissions office or faculty of a school about job opportunities and job roles of professors with industry experience. International fashion schools often employ teachers who work part of the year in the fashion industry and teach the other part. This makes sure the teachers remain up-to-date with current trends. Keeping up relationships with fashion companies gives schools guest speaker and workshop opportunities, as well as contacts which give students a competitive edge when searching for a job.

    Strong Curriculum

    The key components of a strong curriculum for fashion schools are that it provides a strong foundation of core knowledge, it provides essential skill-building opportunities in a hands-on environment, and as the student progresses, it provides opportunities to customize the curriculum to fit the student’s personal career goals.

    The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise (FIDM) is a good school for these standards as an examplary case with their award-winning curriculum. FIDM has over 26 academic departments taught by experienced industry professionals which provide theoretical, historical, and foundational knowledge in the major areas of fashion. Their on-campus study and real-world assignments in their biannual DEBUT fashion show help build a student’s essential skills. This is then specialized as the student advances via opportunities to attend a unique international professional study program, which assists those with career goals of working abroad or in the international market.

    Access to Resources and Facilities

    Most good fashion schools will provide resources and access to facilities necessary for students to produce and showcase their designs. These could range from the provision of sewing equipment to pattern boards, as well as facilities to produce imagery such as photography and printing studios. Adequate resources and access to facilities are essential in clothing degree programs as they give students a comprehensive design experience that prepares them for their post-university career.

    Opportunities for Internships and Study Abroad

    On all campuses of the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), all students in the bachelor’s programs can either complete a professional attachment or participate in exchange and study tours. Many programs at the Billy Blue College of Design support international study exchanges for a trimester. Both the University of Fashion online courses and the on-site fashion degree programs at the London College of Fashion and Parsons School of Design at the New School offer internship and job placement services.

    How to Choose the Right Fashion School for You?

    Choosing the right fashion school can depend on factors such as the specific fashion program you hope to enroll in, your desired specialization in fashion, whether a school is good for the specific career and salary you have in mind, the costs and financial aid for the program, the eligibility requirements, and the reputation and ranking of the school.

    Furthermore, choosing the right fashion school depends on the location of the school, the facilities and equipment it offers, its curriculum, its culture and student life, and the quality of faculty and staff.

    Consider Your Career Goals

    Consider your career goals early as it helps to influence the kind of fashion school to apply to. Interested in becoming a Fashion Stylist? Consider a two-year Associate of Fine Art degree in Fashion Styling Certificates. Want to be a Technical Designer? Maybe a more focused school with a good fashion program, such as the Stat College of Design and Business in Russia, will help to get you there.

    Plan to make it big? A Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and design might be for you. Nina Garcia is the creative and fashion director of Marie Claire, a former judge on Project Runway, and one of the prime examples of this route – a BA graduate from a small school, Boston University’s College of Fine Arts with its BFA in Design.

    The big producer Tom Ford has two entirely different degrees; a BA in Architecture from Parsons The New School for Design and a BFA in Fashion from Parsons School of Design. Silicon Valley’s Immersive Fashion founders are very much in an off-the-beaten-path world, but the founder has a Bachelor’s of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience, Computer Science, and Technology from Middlebury College, which may have helped to get to such a unique idea.

    These may be specific examples, but they provide a good idea of where to start in considering what the purpose is in looking for the best fashion schools for you.

    Research the School’s Reputation and Alumni Success

    Before choosing a fashion school, make sure to thoroughly research the school’s reputation and alumni success. Look at statistics regarding employment, salary ranges, and find out what graduates are saying about the school. Look for enthusiasms and critiques. The knowledge you gain will help you make a more informed decision and ensure you make the most of your school experience.

    To research a school’s reputation, the best thing to do is start by regularly checking the school’s own website, or reach out to see if you can meet with faculty and admissions in person, chat over email, or speak with current students. You can further investigate a school’s reputation and course content by using peer reviews on websites like Unibuddy, Janta Review, or Niche. Additionally, you can use O*NET Online or Vault, by far the best source of cultural and company-related reading material for those looking at careers in the United States.

    When researching the reputation of a fashion school and looking for information to base their decision on, prospective students can utilize the school itself as a resource and also utilize Google searches and school discovery platforms such as, Business of Fashion, Aritzia Fashion School, and U.S. News Real Estate and Education Sections.

    Visit the Campus and Attend Info Sessions

    Visiting a school’s campus enables you to view the facilities firsthand, and also assess interactions between faculty and students. You may find a school’s culture or offerings better in line with what you are looking for than what was listed on their site.

    Also schools often provide info sessions for potential students who have questions. You may be able to get a better sense of the degree and courses they provide at that time if you were still unable to find much online.

    Compare Tuition and Financial Aid Options

    International fashion schools’ tuitions can vary widely, so be sure to compare programs and ensure it’s possible to attend the one you want without going into significant debt. Finland’s Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture charges just $200 a year in tuition for its masters in fashion and says students are not required to come to Finland at all during the two years of study. Tuition at Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art is just $1200 annually and provides tutorial sessions with faculty twice a week in real-time for their international Master’s program. At the other end of the scale, tuition at Stella Adler Studio in Los Angeles is $47,385 for the MFA and has no special provision for remote study.

    Make sure to check whether or not tuition includes any travel, housing, or social/mitigation fees.

    Seek Out Student Reviews and Feedback

    Student feedback and reviews are a potent source to find useful information and to validate evidence-based recommendations for the best schools for fashion design and business. Over recent years, there has been an explosion of websites and social media applications such as Quora, Reddit, Youtube, and Twitter that students have written reviews and provided feedback about schools they have attended. These often include pros and cons about attending specific schools.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are good fashion schools?

    Good fashion schools are educational institutions that offer high-quality programs and courses in fashion design, merchandising, and related fields. These schools provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the fashion industry.

    How do I know if a fashion school is good?

    A good fashion school should have a strong reputation and recognition in the fashion industry. It should also have experienced and knowledgeable faculty, up-to-date curriculum, and state-of-the-art facilities. You can also look at the school’s alumni and their success in the fashion industry.

    What factors should I consider when choosing a fashion school?

    When choosing a fashion school, it is important to consider factors such as the school’s curriculum, faculty, facilities, internship opportunities, alumni success, and location. You should also consider your personal goals and preferences in terms of program specialization and learning style.

    Are there any online fashion schools?

    Yes, there are online fashion schools that offer virtual programs and courses in fashion design, merchandising, and related fields. These schools provide students with the flexibility to study at their own pace from anywhere in the world. However, it is important to research and ensure that the online school is accredited and reputable.

    What are some well-known fashion schools?

    Some well-known fashion schools include Parsons School of Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, and Polimoda. These schools are highly regarded in the fashion industry and have produced successful alumni.

    Do I need a degree from a fashion school to work in the fashion industry?

    No, a degree from a fashion school is not required to work in the fashion industry. However, it can provide you with valuable knowledge and skills that can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Many successful fashion professionals have both a degree and hands-on experience in the industry.

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *