Is Fashion Your Passion?

Display at The Fashion School Store

Display at The Fashion School Store

Fall is in the air. And so is fashion. Just as my fall sweaters are beginning to scream for attention, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, and Michael Kors are parading their Spring/Summer 2015 designs at New York Fashion Week. Even Serena Williams is in this game. What’s a girl to do?

If fashion is your design passion you have a lot of top college programs to consider. Make sure The Fashion School (FS) at Kent State University is one of them. Located in northeastern Ohio, it’s consistently ranked among the best fashion programs in the country. In 2013 called it “one of the top American fashion schools [that] keeps getting better.” And the esteemed Council of Fashion Designers of America ranked it in the top ten.

The program offers a BA or BFA in Fashion Design alongside a BS in Fashion Merchandising. And, if you’ve got your eye on an advanced degree and the business world, consider combining your BS with an MBA. This new, five-year program offers graduate level coursework in fashion theory, design management, and fashion research methods from the university’s College of Business. What a great way to launch a career…

When I sat down with J.R. Campbell, Professor and Fashion School Director, he said the school’s success and popularity have them bursting at the seams (no pun intended!). Since their founding in 1983 they’ve grown to a student population of over 1500.

Kent St fashion design school (7) chalk boardWhy so popular? Kent State offers the benefits of a focused, stellar program in a state university setting. That translates into acquiring the skills you’ll need to succeed in a down-to-earth environment. Students gain conceptual, technical, and production design knowledge as well as the problem-solving capabilities required to be successful in today’s fast-paced design industry. Resources are abundant, and include:

An extensive library collection of fashion, historic costume, painting, and decorative arts;

The Fashion School Store in downtown Kent, which sells clothing designed by Fashion School faculty and alumni, creating the opportunity for direct customer feedback in a live retail environment;

A satellite campus in the heart of it all, New York City’s Garment District, with studio and study space for 120 Fashion School students each year; and

Graduates with a high degree of confidence and a reputation for job placement over 90%.

What type of student will succeed at the Fashion School? According to Campbell, “motivated, focused, driven, passionate, and willing to work hard.” So, what are you waiting for?

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Fashion Forward

photo pin - fashion show modelAs New York buildings and treetops were blanketed in a blizzard of white early this week, a rainbow of colors could be seen indoors during the semi-annual rite that is the beginning of New York Fashion Week.  During the nine day presentation, models show off the newest trends from fashion houses and designers across the globe.  Buyers gather to catch a glimpse of what will be “in” for the fall season.

Representatives from WWD, Vogue, and W Magazine are just a few of the fashion-focused publications on hand to preview the activities of this multi-billion dollar industry.  Putting each show together and bringing fashion to the attention of the public requires a wide array of creative talent.  Designers, stylists and patternmakers create the vision; buyers, merchandisers and publicists help sell it.

If you’re passionate about the world of fashion, there are numerous ways you can engage with it in your career.  Seamstresses, writers, print designers, footwear designers, trend analysts, and costume designers are just a few of the jobs integral to the success of this industry.

Colleges across the country offer a wealth of related programs.  The key is to find the right place for you.  Interested in Menswear, check out FIT; intrigued by Accessories Design, consider Parsons.  Do your research and learn the nuances of each program.  Read their websites and visit the schools that top your list. Talk to current fashion students.  And make sure to consider both public and private schools.  Both Oregon State University (OSU) and Kent State University in Ohio were listed among the top 20 fashion programs by Fashionista.  The editors highlighted OSU’s relationships with key sports apparel companies.  Think jobs at Nike, Pendleton, and Eddie Bauer, all based in the Pacific Northwest.

Fashion coursework will combine creativity with technical mastery, all while giving you an understanding of the influence apparel plays in our culture.   You’ll acquire illustration, draping and pattern-making skills, finesse construction details and finishes, and become knowledgeable about different materials and their specific characteristics.  Classes will be hands-on, immersing you in a studio-type environment.   Math skills, patience and a precise attention to detail are essential.  Senior year will further develop your problem-solving skills and teach you how to design, produce and present your aesthetic clearly in a portfolio and on the runway.  Internship opportunities will broaden your exposure even more, giving you a taste of the real-world.

A large majority of apparel industry jobs are in either New York or California.  Keep that in mind when choosing a school, or realize the implications when searching for a job.

The world of fashion is fast-paced, intense, highly competitive and demanding.  (My feet hurt just thinking about those stilettos.)  And, you will need to know how to work with diverse personalities – see The Devil Wears Prada.  However if you thrive in a creative environment, have solid drawing and color skills it could be the right place for you.  Keep in mind; this is a broad subject.  I’ve just touched the surface of related fields of study and careers.  I hope to dive in deeper in the future.  In the meantime, if you want to learn about a specific part of this career path let me know.

Related links:  Teen Vogue Editor Media Brecher’s industry-related responsibilities were recently highlighted online.  “My responsibilities include assisting Jane Keltner de Valle, the Fashion News Director, writing and researching features, setting up scouts with individuals for potential features for the magazine, doing photo research, and coordinating with other departments as we plan our pages.”