Fashion Design Curriculum
Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated September 2010
In case you were wondering, there’s much more to a fashion design curriculum than drawing clothing, sewing a few stitches into fabric and heading off to Paris or Milan on the wings of a burgeoning and glamorous career as the next Armani or Versace. In fact, the vast majority of fashion design students don’t even enter that part of the field. And while that may detract from the surface glamour of it, it also adds to the depth of enjoyment many professionals experience, as there are seemingly limitless avenues for the fashion design student to pursue upon graduation, and they’re all more fabulous than the frilliest of Ms. Carrie Bradshaw’s purses.
Fashion design courses
Much like in painting or composing, in fashion design curricula, there typically must be a solid foundation of classical understanding in order to go off in one’s own direction. To that end, students in fashion design courses study everything from illustration to construction of the clothing, as well as the history of fashion, the underlying philosophies of its development, fashion merchandising and other aspects of the business side of things.
Many students enrolled in fashion design curricula combine their design studies with classes on business so that they may market their creations more effectively. There are several different areas within fashion design in which students can focus, and business training enhances many of them. Some fashion design concentrations include:
- Costume Design
- Fashion Marketing
- Fashion Merchandising
- Fashion Manufacturing
- Fashion Education
There are, in fact, innumerable areas in this field that students may pursue, and they vary from design to marketing to manufacturing management. Students are only limited by their specific areas of competence and interest, and by the direction in which they would ultimately like to travel. Some students in fashion design curricula open their own fashion houses, serve as buyers for large companies and stores, or manage fashion design companies.
Most students in graduate fashion design courses are required to have some sort of artistic background and a bachelors degree to show for it. One of the challenges of fashion design is that students must create cutting-edge, in-demand clothing and accessories, while making a profit at the same time. Being able to stay current with trends is extremely important, and students of fashion design curricula will engage in extensive research into fashion’s past, present and future.
Students can take fashion design courses that focus on the design of clothing, accessories and shoes, as well as on fashion designs for specific ages and genders. Fashion design courses help students establish strong senses of color, texture and detail. Students will become proficient sewers, patternmakers and tailors, as well as learn how to convey their creative ideas effectively in writing, visually, and verbally. Fashion design courses are likely to cover sales topics such as strategy, inventory control, profitability and cost analysis.
Other fashion design courses can include dyeing and finishing, weaving, knitting, drawing and design foundations. Students will learn to confidently utilize computer-aided design (CAD) in order to visualize their creations on virtual models, as well as to experiment with different cuts and colors without having to pick up scissors or dye packets.
About far more than knowledge of fabrics, textiles and fibers, fashion design careers attract all types of people, but all of these careers have commonalities. They all require creative, detail-oriented people who are passionate about the innovations made in the world of fashion.
Careers in fashion design
Careers in fashion design run the gamut from designing itself, to managing the large companies that own fashion houses, to work at the retail level, to fashion journalism. Those with a masters or PhD in fashion design will find many opportunities to grow and flourish professionally. Success in this field is highly rewarding, though the competition is fierce.
Average annual salaries in fashion design careers vary wildly, due mostly to the fact that fashion as an art is subjective, and what is hot one day may not be the next. That being said, the ever-changing atmosphere that surrounds fashion design careers frequently leaves openings for eager and inspired designers to fill. A fashion design career as a costume designer can average about $45,000 per year, while a fashion illustrator can expect to make about $50,000.
Fashion design careers in wholesaling can earn a graduate an average annual salary of $63,000. Fashion editors can expect about $65,000 a year, while those who choose to enter the manufacturing end of the business may earn about $70,000 annually. A career managing a fashion company can earn one about $71,000 a year, as can a position as a fashion professor at a college or university.
The big bucks come when one’s fashion line takes off to the top, or when one enters a fashion design career in which that person is directing, consulting or coordinating. These fashion design careers can command an average annual salary in the six figures.
The bottom line is that while what one makes each year in fashion design can vary dramatically, the creativity and constant change keep many people highly satisfied in their fashion design careers. So consider joining their ranks and find the right graduate program for your needs.
Check out: Fashion & Textile Design Graduate Programs
Photo by Ishikawa Ken