Every year, Fashion Week introduces the world to the clothing and shoe designs of the most famous designers in the world. During this flurry of activity, it's likely that few actually think about how these designers developed their famous style sense. But this counts as a primary question among up-and-coming designers, and part of the answer lies in the designer's education. Learning how to design clothes and shoes takes talent, but to make it in the competitive world of the fashion industry, a designer needs the backing of a solid education as well.
Fashion Education Considerations
Some conflicting information exists about how much education a person designing clothes and shoes requires. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entry-level fashion designer doesn't need anything more than a high school diploma. However, the job website Monster points out that the fashion industry is supremely competitive. With all other factors in the job market being equal, the designer who has a degree usually gets the job. The minimum level of degree these positions call for is an associate degree. That said, a four-year degree leading to a bachelor's in fine arts gives the designer more time to develop his talent and build an impressive portfolio, which he'll need once he enters the job market.
Drafting for Clothing and Shoe Design
Once upon a time drafting meant taking out pencil and paper and sketching ideas. In the fashion industry, it still means that, but clothing and shoe designers today also learn how to use computer aided drafting programs or CAD. These programs allow designers to alter clothing patterns quickly, change sizes or hems and see their designs in 3D proportions, allowing them to better visualize how it will look on the human body. The fashion student who gravitates toward a design career can count on taking five or six drawing/ drafting classes plus coursework in CAD to help gain proficiency in industry-standard software.
Art and Fashion History
According to the State University website, the successful fashion designer must have the ability to spot and create trends. He creates the concepts for his designs up to 24 months in advance. Some of this knowledge comes from looking at research provided by industry trade groups, but the designer also gleans quite a bit by looking at what has come before and looking at how design styles, color combinations and the use of line and textiles have come and gone in the past. A knowledge of art history and fashion history gives him a grounding in these trends and helps him predict what might come next.
Fabrics, Textiles, Knits
Fabrics and textiles are to a fashion and shoe designer what a canvas is to a visual artist. Aspiring designers take classes to learn more about how fabrics, knits and textiles are made and also how they affect how a piece of clothing looks and is worn. They also take coursework that teaches them how to make patterns, work with trim and to sew. Student designers get practical knowledge in how to build a piece of clothing or shoe from the sketch phase to the final product.
Other Design Skills
Aside from learning how to make clothes and shoes, the student designer will learn the business side of fashion. He can expect to learn about marketing, retailing, buying and distribution during the course of his education. These financial considerations not only help him make educated decisions about what kinds of designs he should create next by looking at how well currently popular clothing items are selling, but also become useful should he want to open his own store.
Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.