As with any art, there isn’t a set path on how you can become a fashion designer. Like numerous of occupations, there are many ways for you to get to where you want to be. However one thing is for certain, you must know what you want to be and where you want to go.
Whether you want to become a high end couture designer, a corporate designer, or independent designer there are multiple ways to become one. In this blog post, we will explore multiple ways on how you can become a designer.
1. The Path Most Taken
The first path and the one most often taken, is attending a Fashion Design school/college. There are several of colleges/schools all over the world dedicated to the art of manipulating fabric.
Within the US alone, there are hundreds of design colleges/schools all across the nation. Among the top rated are Parsons School of Design located in New York, Kent State University in Ohio, and Academy of Art University in California to list a few from coast to coast.
These colleges are known for their turn out of famous designers such as Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs. As well, there are corporate designers who work for huge retailers such as Kohls, Macy’s, and Coach.
Not only that, there are several independent designers who graduated from these colleges as well. Furthermore, fashion design colleges have distinguished fashion design programs that can help set you on the right path to becoming a designer.
More Than Education
Studying fashion design at an university enables you to learn the foundations of fashion, sewing, and its history. Not only that, it also allows you to network with established alumni. These alumni could become your mentors and help you get your feet in the door.
Working with distinguished alumni is a huge benefit. They can pass their knowledge and personal experiences unto you. The biggest break a fashion designer can have is made through leveraging their connections in networking.
Personally, attending school for fashion has helped me tremendously. Before going to a university, I didn’t know the fundamentals of fashion or sewing. I dabbled in sewing here and there, and I knew what a sewing machine was. Nonetheless, I lacked in many other areas such as pattern making, draping, tailoring, and etc.
I didn’t even know what a pattern was because I had always sewed without one. However, by attending a university, I acquired the skills to create, make, and execute patterns from scratch. Most importantly, I learned how to problem solve on a garment.
For example, why did a garment not fit correctly? Or why did it drape in a certain way. Was it due to the fabric, a tuck or nip? Or was it because the fabric was cut on a bias? These were all questions I was able to solve by the end of my university years.
Acquire & Improve Skills
Not only that, I was able to refine my drawing skills in fashion illustrations and learned how to sketch electronically through various programs like U4ia, the adobe suite, along with many others.
Along with my drawing skills, I was able to fine tune my taste level in clothing. There is so much that I acquired over the years that I can’t possibly write them all down in this post. Therefore, I’ll save it for another post.
Studying at a university brings many opportunities as well as new experiences. As for me, I had the opportunity to travel and study abroad in Paris.
Paris is known as the fashion capital of the world. There, I studied with Madam Picco who worked for the couture house of Gres.
Also, I worked with Jeane Pierre who was the accessories maker for Jean Paul Gaultier at the time. During my time in Paris, I worked backstage for runway shows and was able to see all the work required. The opportunities are endless, you just have to learn to find them and leverage them.
2. Internship/Trainee/ Learn on the Job
Going to school isn’t the only way to become a fashion designer. There are numerous of designers such as Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, and Michael Kors who didn’t go to school for fashion design. Instead, they worked for various couture houses and department stores within the fashion industry.
It was there that they acquired their knowledge and skills. By being hands on, they quickly gained experiences and were able to build up an array of networks and connections. It is through these connections that they were able to build their fashion houses today.
Create a Network
By leveraging your networks, in combination with your skills, you will be able to become a successful designer. Being able to envision a garment and sketch it out is great. But, to be able take your sketch and turn it into reality is what it truly takes to become a fashion designer.
3. Self Taught
The last way to become a designer is to be self taught. In today’s society, you can learn anything you want through YouTube or online classes. You can search and find videos on YouTube to teach you all the same things you would learn in a university or a couture house.
Risk & Rewards
The biggest benefit to being a self taught fashion designer is that you save a lot of money up front compared to going to a university. However, the consequence is that you will spend a lot of money on overcoming all the obstacles that you will run into. These obstacles could have been avoided by learning from a teacher, mentor, or other colleagues who are in the same situation.
“I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” —Ralph Lauren
In the end, you can choose to go to school, work for famous fashion houses, or be self-taught. In every path, it will take time to gain the experience you need to fine tune your craft.
Therefore, whether you want to be a couture, corporate, or an independent designer, there are multiple ways of becoming one. Whichever it may be, the opportunities are endless.
Figure out which path is the right one for you. You can start by taking the first step. Visit potential colleges, find a brand that you would love to work for them, and research online on how to be a fashion designer.
Have fun and explore the endless possibilities. Whichever path you take, always remember to never stop dreaming!
On your journey, you can define what type of designer you want to be. However, if you find yourself pondering, “What is a Fashion Designer“, check out my previous blog.
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