Fashion design is a highly creative career option. The typical career requirement of obtaining at least an undergraduate degree is not required to have your own collection, but a bachelor's or an associate degree might be required to work under another fashion designer or label. Though a fashion design degree is not required in all scenarios, it can be helpful, as can many of the other apparel industry degrees available.
Students majoring specifically in fashion design at various colleges or universities typically study textile science, basic apparel construction, draping, spec drawing, trend forecasting, fashion illustration, color theory, fashion history and computer-aided fashion design. Some fashion design degree programs require students to choose a design concentration such as sportswear, children's wear, intimate apparel, special occasion or knitwear. Fashion design programs offer associate or bachelor of arts degree programs; a student can then obtain a master of arts degree.
Fashion Merchandising / Marketing
Majoring in fashion merchandising or marketing is less focused on the design aspect of being a fashion designer but prepares students to understand the fashion retail environment and systems they'll be involved in if they choose a career as a fashion designer. Having a degree in fashion merchandising or marketing puts a fashion designer in the highly ideal position of knowing how to market and run the business side of her design collection. Various schools title this major as fashion merchandising or fashion marketing, but they both primarily cover the same curriculum. Fashion merchandising or marketing students primarily study retail math, human resource management, visual merchandising, human relations, accounting, marketing, business development, fashion history, retail buying and inventory management. Many upcoming fashion designers risk failing because they do not know or understand how much finance, merchandising and marketing affects a design company. This choice is available as an associate or a bachelor's degree program.
Textile Science & Engineering
If you are innately talented at fashion design, yet you'd still like to obtain an undergraduate and/or master's degree, majoring in textile science could be a smart choice. Textile science is the study of natural and man-made fibers that make up apparel products. This major studies the various types of fibers, how they're made and what they're made of, the dyeing process, various textural and chemical finishes and how a fiber becomes a woven or nonwoven fabric. Being knowledgeable in textiles is crucial to a fashion designer's success because the "hand" (how a fabric feels) and "drape" (how a fabric hangs on the body) of a fabric (and knowing other textile science terms) can make or break the sales potential of a garment. Textile science and engineering is offered as a bachelor's and master's degree.
Apparel Manufacturing Management
Available as an associate program, a degree in apparel manufacturing management would prepare a fashion designer to handle the highly difficult and complex aspect of manufacturing his own collection, or to work under a fashion label managing manufacturing operations. Apparel manufacturing management programs primarily teach line development, product planning technologies, global sourcing (imports/exports and finding qualified global manufacturers), quality assurance, computer-aided design and manufacturing management. Majoring in apparel manufacturing management would help you to understand aspects of the apparel industry that would be very useful for a fashion designer.
Patricia Harr holds a bachelor's degree in fashion marketing and lives in the Washington, DC metro area. She has published numerous pieces on fashion in The Washington Post's "EXPRESS" metro daily paper. In addition to fashion writing, Harr was a weekly fitness and nutrition columnist for "The Delaware State News" for two years.