Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interested in a Career in Fashion?

First Fashion ShootToday I have a guest post from Brian Jenkins, a writer for BrainTrack who contributes content about many different careers, including those in fashion design. For more information about BrainTrack, check out their Facebook page.

Fashion designers need to be creative, artistic, hard working, and have a "passion for fashion". It’s a demanding and highly competitive field. There are many opportunities. Many fashion designers are employed by apparel manufacturers. There are job opportunities all over the world in this field. There’s a constant demand for new designs for women's, men's, and children's fashions for the mass market. However, approximately one-third of fashion designers are self-employed. Having a solid education can really help.

Fashion designers typically begin as pattern makers or sketching assistants, but many fashion designers are employed by apparel manufacturers. They create designs for women's, men's, and children's fashions for the mass market. However, approximately one-third of fashion designers are self-employed. Fashion designers typically begin as pattern makers or sketching assistants.


Employers prefer to hire designers who have a bachelor's or an associate's degrees in fashion design and have knowledge about fabrics, textiles, ornamentation, and fashion trends. You have a better chance of obtaining a higher paying fashion designer job if you have a bachelor's degree, especially if it's from a prestigious school.


Attending a fashion design school, or majoring in fashion design at a traditional college or university, helps you to build a portfolio. Taking a fashion design program gives you the opportunity to explore a variety of careers. One of the important advantages of attending a design school is that they typically work very closely with the fashion industry. Therefore, these schools provide valuable networking opportunities for their students.

Graduating students have the opportunity to show their collection at fashion shows at the end of their last semesters. Important people from the fashion industry attend these shows looking for new talent.

Besides degrees in fashion design, degrees are also available in fashion marketing and fashion merchandising. These programs focus more on the business aspects of the fashion industry.

Top Fashion Design Schools

One of the best foundations for a fashion design career is getting a fashion design degree at a prestigious school. A degree from a prestigious school adds credibility to your resume. Three of the top fashion schools in New York City are the Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, and Fashion Institute of Technology. These schools funnel graduates into entry-level jobs at top design firms. Two of the top schools located on the West Coast are Otis College of Art and Design and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Other top schools in the U.S. are the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Choosing a Fashion Design School

Answers to the following questions can help you select a good school:
  • Are internships in the fashion industry provided?
  • Does the school participate in fashion design competitions?
  • Does the school have successful alumni in the fashion design sector?
  • Is the curriculum relevant to the topics your interested in?
  • Does the school offer a sufficient number of courses in your area of specialization?
  • Does the faculty have established fashion designers?
  • What type of financial aid is available?
  • Does the school provide guest instructors from major fashion design firms?
  • Does the school have career fairs?
  • Has the school been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design?


Some designers gain skills via internships with design or manufacturing companies. Some design firms accept interns with an impressive portfolio who haven't attended a fashion design school, however without personal connections its' very difficult to obtain an internship without an education. Also, aspiring fashion designers have the opportunity to gain exposure to prospective employers by entering their designs in amateur contests.

Other Fashion Careers

Here are some of other career fields within the fashion industry:

Fashion Design Production

  • Fashion merchandiser
  • Accessories designer
  • Showroom sales representative
  • Fashion sales representative
  • Clothing pattern maker
  • Product manager
  • Pattern grader
Fashion Media and Promotions
  • Fashion writer
  • Fashion PR specialist
  • Fashion stylist
  • Fashion illustrator
  • Graphic designer
  • Fashion editor
  • Fashion photographer
Fashion Marketing/Merchandising
  • Fashion buyer
  • Retail merchandiser
  • Fashion coordinator
  • Retail store manager
  • Visual merchandiser
  • Boutique owner

Fashion career opportunities also include designing costumes for television, movies, and theater productions and personal stylist jobs with upscale department stores and also with private clients.

If you have a passion for fashion, there are a variety of careers paths to choose from. Getting a degree in the field of your choice can go a long way toward getting your foot in the door.

Photo Credit: Chris Michaels
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