Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do you really need to study Fashion Design to succeed in the Fashion Industry?

Concepts and Story Boards, Life and Figure Drawing,


Garment Construction, Pattern Making, Textile Studies,

History of Fashion,

Textile Studies, Technical Drawing, etc.

These are the all too familiar courses fashion design students d.r.e.a.d... and love to hate... but have no choice really if they want to get their certificates.

But REALLY do you have to endure 3 years of an undergraduate degree or diploma to become a Fashion Professional? I use the words Fashion Professional because obviously not everyone who studies Fashion Design wants to or will become a designer.

The fashion industry is so diverse. I mean you can become a Fashion Buyer / Merchandiser, a Retailer, an Illustrator, a Stylist, an Image Consultant, a Clothes Manufacturer, a Fashion Journalist... really the possibilities are endless.


Why on earth must I study Fashion Design if I do not want to become a dress maker or fashion designer...???

YES YES we know, some of the world's famous designers, John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, etc all studied Fashion Design. But do you all know that the billionaire designer, Ralph Lauren, dropped out of his Business course at the City College of New York and NEVER went to Fashion School????

I know what y'all are thinking? Does she think she made a mistake by studying a BA in Fashion Design? Nope. In fact FAR FROM IT!


I cannot help but wonder why a lot of us feel we need to go back to school to study a course if it is not absolutely necessary. I mean if one wants to be a Fashion Stylist, for example, why does she need to study a course in fashion design? Is this borne out of the necessity to add another credential to her already long list of credentials or is it because she truly believes she needs the requisite skills to excel in her chosen field? I personally believe the latter. To be the very best in what you want to be in, you NEED to learn the basics. But then, this is my personal conviction and the major reason why I chose to study the course..... or maybe I was brainwashed into thinking this way... Hmmnnn...

Truth is that a lot of us have different aspirations. I recall recently, a friend of mine who was so frustrated with the area she was studying the course in that wanted to quit in less than a month. In fact, I BEGGED her to stay.

Now this got me thinking. She wants to have a label and be a reknowned designer.


Can't she simply just employ dressmakers and illustrators and tell them what she wants and get the clothes produced while she concentrates on the management and business arm of the conglomerate she wants to set up? Surely there are a lot of designers who send clothes to Asia and get perfect results every time. And I know she definitely does not see herself behind a sewing machine for long. And frankly, neither do I... see myself behind a sewing machine that is. I mean, one would just collapse if she chooses to make all the clothes herself.

BUT despite my personal belief, as Pennylicious said...

"Is school necessary for success? These self-made billionaires seem to suggest that talent, attitude, hard work and lots of luck seem to be the vital ingredients for success not college or even high school degrees. Bill Gates, Sheldon Adelson, Larry Ellison, Li Ka-Shing, Roman Abramovich, Paul Allen, Michael Dell, Amancio Ortega, Carl Ichan, Kirk Kerkorian, Donald Newhouse, Francois Pinault, Stanley Ho, Jack Taylor, Y C Wang, David Geffen, Steve Jobs, David Murdock, Henry Fok, Ralph Lauren"..... and of course... the very famous Sir obsessed with playing with words and suggestive book titles like "Losing my Virginity" and "Screw it, Let's Do It".... "Sir Richard Branson".

Food for thought right?

For a summary on these billionaires, go to


t said...

Great post. I'm stealing it...well not really, just adding it to a discussion at upnaira, LINK. Much love, T.

Anonymous said...

think this is a great post too...i'm about enter a school now. now in a dilemma as my brother told me to think twice, saying people get successful even if they dont go to school. sigh....n i've done a business degree with honours...what should i do so into fashion design...sometimes i feel myself so lousy that I cant sew.

Anonymous said...

look at goin to school as going to a fashion library! the things you do in school may seem pointless but once you get into the industry you will be thankful to the teachers that taught you. Fashion is not a glamourous, push over industry. Indeed some big name designers did not go to colleges, but you need to know that they went thru decades of apprenticeship which is the same as going to school and then get some internship. School provide you knowledge of designer out there, so you won't look stupid like some of the Project Runway contestant who doesn't even know who YSL is!!

pammi said...

Vicky Bardolia is one of the leading fashion designer from India. Though he has never joined any fashion school but because of his sheer hard work and dedication, he has achieved good position in this profession.Vicky Bordolia

TWayne said...

Yah. Just goes to show... But I know I would never have appreciated fashion as I do now if I had not gone to fashion school...possibly because I was coming from a completely unrelated background. I'm glad I did. But hey... if you can do it without going to school, thumbs up! Truly creative people never desperately need it....well except in terms of a knowledge of the business environment... Now THAT is vital! You cannot succeed in the business environment without a formal knowledge of the business of fashion...or at least the common sense to employ those who do...