Part 1 – Fashion School

Posted on | April 26, 2006 | 5 Comments

One way to get a very good working knowledge of the industry is to attend a college that offers courses in fashion design. Here are a few that I know to have a pretty good reputation from my personal experience:

Fashion Institute of Technology
Parsons School of Design
Moore College
Philadelphia University (College of Textiles)
Rhode Island School of Design
Drexel University
The Art Institute

Working in New York, I mainly come across graduates from the above schools since they are all on the east coast. I don’t know too much about mid-west and west coast schools.

When selecting a good fashion program you should consider:

teacher experience in the industry – most colleges require 5 + years of experience
4 year program or 2?
internship program
career center
placement rate
program size
class size
are different specializations offered? (knitwear, children’s wear, tailoring, lingerie, etc)
culture – is the school in the middle of a city (tons of museums and stores) or in the middle of no where (nothing but a local mall around for miles!)

Many fashion programs are becoming more and more competitive, so having a good portfolio and SAT scores are usually required for most colleges. Depending on the school, the portfolio requirements will be different. Some require a more general portfolio (still life, figure drawing) and others require a strict fashion design portfolio (croquis, flats, inspiration boards). When building a portfolio – don’t rush! This should be a collection of your best work from over a period of time.

Going to school full time isn’t the only option, night classes and special seminars are also offered at some colleges. Want to learn how to use a knitting machine? FIT offers a weekend course that meet 2 or 3 times. Want to learn Illustrator for fashion? Take a night course 1 night a week for a couple of weeks.

In Part II, I’ll discuss in more detail my experience at FIT – some courses I took and the type of assignments I was given. What was useful, what wasn’t. How it helped me to prepare for the industry and what I wish they would have told us but didn’t.

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  • Amy

    I’m really looking forward to this series, and this was an excellent start. Thanks for taking the time to write about this!

  • Purly Whites

    I’m so glad you are doing this series. It is fascinating, especially since I’m in Seattle and there is zilch of this sort of thing here.

    Instead, I just have “Designers! Make it work.”

  • lori z

    thanks for sharing. its always interesting to hear about people’s life journeys, professional and otherwise. I am looking forward to reading more.

    my sister started out in fashion school (ryerson in toronto) only to end up realizing that she wasn’t interested in becoming a designer. so dropped out in year 2 of 4. that hasn’t stopped her from being sucessful in the fashion industry, as she is now a very sucessful producer.

  • Karin

    Hi, Great start to the series – I’m looking forward to reading more. (Thank you for advice on “LuckY I think I will go for it!)

  • Lolly

    Such a great idea for this series, M. I can’t wait to find out more, especially about your own personal experiences at FIT, and in the industry.


    Hope you are well!