Jefferson Fashion Design Program

When most people think of fashion, they picture runway shows and models in magazines, but where does fashion come from? How do designers create new, exciting clothes? The Jefferson fashion design program is so unique in it’s curriculum and teaches every aspect of the design process to aspiring designers. For those of you wondering how a simple idea is transformed into a collection, junior fashion design student Brittany Ritzheimer, and senior fashion design student Carly Brisach give you an inside look at the process.

Step One: Concept Development/Sketchbook Research

Brittany- This entire process starts with getting a sketchbook and conceptualizing your collection. You’ll look at what’s on trend now and what will be trending next season. Your pages will be filled with color palette ideas, silhouette research, fabric, trims, and a whole lot of imagery and texture. Your concept should be a broad enough topic that you can pull a good variety of ideas for prints, colors, and surface details, but narrow enough to look cohesive and concise. I consider this part of our collection process one of the harder ones because you’ll have so many ideas and want to do them all, but the challenge is to focus on one and make sure you translate your thoughts clearly.

Step Two: Customer Profile/Marketing

Carly- Before you start designing your looks, you need to know who you’re designing for. Is it a wealthy woman looking for something to wear to work? Or is it a child who needs something durable to play in? We think about what their budget is, where they live, where they shop and what they do. We also need to keep in mind where our collection will sell and what some comparable brands are that are already on the market.

Step Three: Sketching

Carly- This is where you take all of your research and start designing actual garments with the elements you found and recorded in your sketchbook. This can include using the shape of a flower as inspiration for a skirt or the image of cells under a microscope as a print design. In the picture above are a few sketches from my collection class inspired by mixed martial arts and different kinds of gangs. I used different parts of both ideas to create an edgy menswear collection.

Step Four: Construction

Brittany- Last, but not least, you’re finally making the collection. First you will be draping, making your flat patterns, and triple checking that everything is correct. Then, you will cut and sew your muslin. Muslin is just unbleached woven cotton that we use to test construction and fit  garments prior to using your final fabric. In between all this, you have to make sure the muslin fits your model. You may make multiple muslin samples before finally getting to cut and sew your garment in its actual garment. You want to make sure that everything you do in your muslin is perfected, so you can easily translate that to you end garment. There are so many little steps in construction of your collection that makes this the most time-consuming step. You want to make sure you really manage your time and plan out everything, so you don’t fall behind on your deadline.

After all of this rumble and toil, you will get to see everything you worked so hard on come into fruition. It’s the gratification of seeing your whole collection come together that lets us appreciate what we learn here. The Fashion Design program will make you work hard for what you want. It effectively prepares its students for the industry; it’s demanding, intense, but you come out in the best shape you can for what’s out there. It’s a lot of sweat, tears, and some blood when you prick your finger with a needle twenty times, but it will all own up to it’s worth in the end.

All photos from Carly and Brittany