The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Things you should know about fashion school

Always wanted to design your own line of clothes? Check out our guide to fashion school here.

266

Have you always loved creating your very own clothes and designs? Find yourself browsing through ELLE and the plethora of women’s fashion magazines to follow the latest design trends and then tweaking them to suit your very own sense of style? Then becoming a fashion designer is your calling. Here are a few vital things that you should know about fashion school before you take the plunge and sign up for one.

 

One of the first things students in fashion school will learn is that being a fashion designer doesn’t mean it’s all glitz and glamour. It contains a lot of hard work, where you’re sewing, designer for long hours just to get the collection up on the runway. So be prepared to put in the hard work and your efforts will pay off.

 

What you will learn

 

Sewing techniques


In 3D classes, students normally cover various sewing demos for skirts and bodices. When each garment is finished, no seams should have any raw edges. You’ll learn about the various elements that differentiate high quality garments from fast fashion items. The time put into constructing the garment as well as the quality of the fabric will determine the calibre and the cost of your garment.

 

Confidence

You’ll learn to become more confident as you continuously present your ideas in fashion school. Your classmates are just as unsure of their work as you, that’s the whole point of fashion school, everyone there is a beginner and there to learn. It’s fine if you’re nervous. From minor mistakes and accomplished creations, you’ll realise that everyone else is just as unsure of their work and that it’s OK to be a little nervous sometimes.

 

Turning your obsession into inspiration

Fashion collections take a long time and sometimes, students end up doing three projects in one semester. Thus it’s essential that you choose inspirations that will keep you interested and motivated. The best inspirations are the ones that you are obsessed with, because you will already be equipped with the required knowledge about them. The more facts and visuals you have, the more time you’ll be willing to spend time thinking about it, which then results in a stronger collection.

Inspiration can also come from observing at other people’s collections and see what you can take, improve and add on to your own.  It can also be all around you. Colours, structure, shape, texture, taste, a feeling, a memory, virtually anything can be your inspiration

 

Clothing construction

Clothing doesn’t magically fit the body and the silhouette, it is entirely dependent on the fabric how it is constructed. For more body-conscious garments like the pencil skirt or flare skirt, darts are required while gathers are necessary for looser garments. In school, you’ll learn to incorporate closures whether it’s a simple zipper or use magnets and laces.

 

Differentiation

Fashion design students learn that when creating a collection, it needs to be cohesive and varied. For instance, you should tie the collection together with certain elements and colours while changing up the lengths of the garments. These variations will not only make the collection more interesting but will also increase the possibility of buyers purchasing more than one piece.

 

Pattern making

Pattern is very important in fashion design, you will be taught how to make all sorts of patterns and you’ll find that the key in pattern making is that whatever you take away has to be added somewhere else to balance it out. In other words, if you close a dart in one location, you have to open it up in another area so that the garment will fit well.

 

What you need to do

 

Presentation is important

Being successful in the fashion industry no longer just relies on technique. You need more than that. You need to have fantastic tailoring skills AND the ability to make an effective yet eye-catching mood board. You will need to document your inspiration and how you arrived at this particular collection. Spend time sketching your designs and make it look like a magazine layout. Always remember to keep adding to your portfolio after each completed project.

 

Editing

You start with about 450 plus doddles of all the different permutations and combinations possible; where you play with the positioning of small elements, to narrowing down to 40 sketches or so, revising those and creating new pieces and finally to just 10-20 looks. During this time you ideas can shift drastically and you and your collection evolves.

 

Fashion is subjective

Like design and art, fashion is hard to critique due to their highly subjective nature. However, there are certain criteria that applies to all collections:

 

  • Do the flats have all the required details and closures?
  • Is the fabric suitable for the concept suggested?
  • Is the collection well thought out? Or is it messy with an absence of flow?
  • Are the colours clashing with the idea?
  • Are the fabrics recognisable?

 

Practice is key

In fashion school you’ll work with industrial sewing machines, which are a whole lot faster than the ones at home. They can sew a seam in a couple of seconds. With practice and patience, you will learn how to control the speed of the industrial machine.

 

Keep up with trends

As with any school that specialises in an area of study, keeping up with the latest trends is a necessity. Look at what’s going out on the runways and your local boutiques. A strong and well-rounded view of fashion and its myriad of applications will give you a good foundation to express your own personal creativity.

 

Constructive criticism

Can you take negative feedback? When you go to fashion school, not all of your designs will be approved on the first try. Your tutors will give you loads of constructive criticism so that you can further develop your design sensibilities and become a better designer.

 

Carry a notebook

As I’ve mentioned earlier, inspiration can hit you anywhere, on the way home in the bus, sitting on a bench near the park, listening to a song on your mp3 player or even when you’re in the shower. You don’t want to forget what those are when it’s time to brainstorm ideas for your next collection, so have a notebook handy on your person wherever you go and quickly jot down what that particular streak of inspiration was, it could just be one word or a really brief sketch of something. 

 

We hope that this guide has been helpful to you and if you decide that fashion school’s truly for you, what are you waiting for? Take the plunge!

 

 

Contemplating studying abroad? Check out the courses available here.

Or download a university’s prospectus now!

 

Useful links

Grocery shopping on a student’s budget

5 tips to help you survive your PhD

Tips for applying a student visa

Things to do before you leave for your study abroad trip

4 ways to keep in touch with your loved ones when abroad

Search for a course

Choose a country
Study level*
About Author

A fan of anime and all things Japanese, Khai has been writing professionally since 2010 and “unofficially” for much longer. In her free time, you will often find her baking, reading, travelling and doing everything else in between.