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A Student’s Insight on the Fashion Industry

So you want to study fashion, but your parents want you to be reasonable and be a doctor, engineer, or a lawyer? Or perhaps you’ve gotten the infamous “What will people say?”. Hmmm…that sounds really familiar. They say fashion is a superficial industry, perhaps they don’t believe it’s a respectable profession. Regardless of their belief, if you’re passionate about it and want to have a career in fashion, go for it! Listen, people will always need clothes, so…I mean…it is job stability. Just know, Project Runway is not a good source of reference… Trust me, the fashion industry is not glamorous. As a fashion design student pursuing their Bachelors, allow me to give you some insight about this major and this industry. To start, let me just say not everybody interested in fashion design is going to be a designer.

  1. I’m interested in fashion, but don’t know where to start or how to apply to design programs?

There’s plenty of pre-college  summer programs and workshops offered by many design schools like Parsons x Teen Vogue, FIT, Drexel, Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Jefferson University. Most of the programs due require payment, but some offer free workshops. Jefferson actually offered a free workshop for high-school students this past summer.

  1. What does studying fashion mean (aside from gen-eds)?

It means: you’re studying fashion history, art history, learning about textiles (how they’re created/ their properties, textiles science, learning how to conduct research (every collection starts with months of research), garment construction, draping, patternmaking, fashion illustration, learning softwares (Adobe), etc…

You are also spending a lot of time in studio classes that can be almost 4 hours long. Most of your time as a design student is spent in a studio, especially as you’re working on a collection. PSA, there is a lot of math involved in the design process, but nothing to be worried about. Time management is important, and deadlines are taken very seriously. YOU WILL LOSE SLEEP.

  1. How do I put together a portfolio?

Portfolio to Apply for Programs:

Initially applying to design school programs usually require portfolios, some programs might not require it. Each program’s requirements are different. Sometimes you can include work from a highschool art class. However, it is best to include work tailored to show your interest in fashion. Don’t be shy! Get in contact with the program and ask them as many questions about what they expect. In fact, go ahead and stalk some alumni and current students and ask them.

Portfolio for Jobs: 

Don’t worry, the work you create in school will become your portfolio to apply for jobs. You’ll also have professors you can get feedback from.

  1. What about jobs?

Not everybody is going to be a fashion designer. You may study it, thinking that’s what you want to be, but there’s plenty of other jobs. For example a buyer, print designer, tech designer, stylist, textile engineer, product development, pattern maker, accessories designer, sourcing, production, trend forecaster, journalist, creative director, etc… There’s a lot of obscure jobs in this industry. Sometimes, you don’t even need to study fashion, you just need connections and an opportunity.

  1. Can you make a lot of money?

Yes, and no. Of course you can have a high paying job in fashion, but it may take a while.

  1. How do I network?

Always be nice to everybody you ever meet, and don’t run your mouth. If you have a conflict with someone, resolve it privately. Don’t talk bad about them ever. It’s a small industry, and your reputation matters. Not everybody is stuck-up, you’ll meet a lot of great people! Go to as many on-campus events as  possible, and try to find experience off-campus. Helping out with fashion week is a great opportunity if you’re able to!

  1. What about internships?

Many companies don’t hire freshman interns, but if you have a connection the chances are better. A lot are unpaid unfortunately, but there are now more paid opportunities than before! Persistence pays off, do your research, stalk some people on LinkedIn and send some cold call messages. Even if they say no, at the very least you’ll be networking. Apply for summer internships as early as the fall. Many internships will require you to do a small project, maybe a 6 look collection that embodies their brand. You’ll want to include things like a concept board, fabric board, tech flats, and your illustrations.

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Sahin Naznin

Jefferson '23

Hi! My name’s Sahin, I'm a fashion design student. I'm in my last semester of university, graduating in December! As it is my last semester, I've realized there's a lot of things I wish I had known about pursuing a degree in fashion. I want to share what I've learned/still learning in the hopes that it will help others who have interest in the fashion industry, but lack resources to help them. When I'm not losing sleep from school, I enjoy watching East Asian/ South Asian dramas and movies, drawing, sewing, reading, and enjoying iced caramel lattes/coffee. Fun Fact: I've almost gotten hit by a car on many occasions whilst crossing the street to avoid a dog. Yes, I'm scared of dogs, BUT I would like to take this time to say that it does not mean I hate them. Okay. I like dogs, just from a distance. :)