If you’re interested in fashion, you probably already have raw talent. You know what colors and fabrics work well together, you know who the important designers are, and you have a style vision to call your own.
So, you might be wondering, “Why do I need to go to college?”
Well, there are a few reasons. The first, and most painful, is that you might not know as much as you think. A personal style might seem cutting edge at your high school or hometown, but it may have been tried a thousand times before in towns across the country. At college, you get a better sense of what others have done, which gives you more ability to innovate and create something truly unique.
College also gives you a chance to participate in a vibrant community with other people who share your passions. You can learn from each other and challenge one another to do better.
Finally, college provides numerous networking opportunities, as you’ll get to know people who are in or will go on to be, respected figures in the field. With these connections, you’ll have a better chance of getting the attention your work deserves.
For that last reason, fashion schools in New York are particularly important. As one of the centers of the fashion world, the Big Apple has the attention of all prominent designers and tastemakers. Studying there will allow you to hone your art in conversation with those who will go on to set the standards for the future of style.
5. LIM College
Located in midtown Manhattan, LIM College trains students in the global business of fashion, as well as its related industries. The school prides itself as a pioneer in experiential education, emphasizing unique connections between practical experience and academic approaches to business principles. In their programs, students develop their creative and critical thinking skills and leadership abilities, all of which prepare them to become leaders in the highly competitive and dynamic business environment of the global fashion industry.
LIM offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in everything on the business side of fashion, from marketing to global supply chains. The school serves over 1600 students, 332 in graduate programs. On average, classes consist of 13 or 14 students, ensuring maximum attention from the school’s all-star faculty.
Those faculty members come from the fashion industry, with experience in companies such as Chanel, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger. With those connections, the faculty arranges internships for students, ensuring that LIM is part of the future of fashion. In fact, 94% of LIM students secured jobs within the business of fashion and its related fields (or continuing their education) within nine months of graduation. That’s a number that any college would be proud to have, made all the more impressive when one considers the highly competitive nature of the fashion industry.
With these connections, LIM has produced alumni who go on to be leaders in the world of fashion. Former CEO and President of Barneys New York and current chief brand officer at Tiffany & Co. Daniella Vitale graduated from LIM, as did Haitian-American beauty queen and model Christie Désir.
4. Cornell University
As an Ivy League school, Cornell University is at the forefront of every subject it handles, and fashion is no exception. Within the College of Human Ecology, Cornell’s Fiber Science & Apparel Design department takes an academic approach to the world of fashion. The program teaches students to study and research fibers, fabrics, apparel, and the apparel industry from design, management, historical and scientific perspectives.
FSAD includes faculty members who take the science and cultural aspects of the fashion industry seriously. Assistant professor Fatma Baytar develops new computational tools and methods for achieving seamless digitalization of new product development in the apparel industry, including using 3D digital technologies. Associate professor Huiju Park builds on his career as an athletic apparel and footwear manager at PUMA Korea to perform ground-breaking research in biomechanics and physiological evaluation of personal protective clothing systems and sports apparel. He accomplishes this by exploring the advantages of the latest human performance simulation and assessment technologies such as motion capture and thermal manikin systems.
Faculty gets to pursue their research interests with the help of resources such as the Cornell Digital Fashion and Body Scan Research Lab. Within the lab, students and faculty have access to a Human Solutions Vitus XXL full-body scanner that uses eight cameras and four eye-safe lasers to capture about 300,000 data points for each scan in 12 seconds, a Human Solutions head scanner with higher resolution and smaller scan volume, and an Occipital 3D Structure sensor.
With these technical resources at their disposal, students at FSAD have an advantage when designing the looks of the future.
3. Fashion Institute of Technology
What do fashion designer Calvin Klein, interior designer Scott Salvator, and movie director Joel Schumacher have in common? They all graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the world’s most respected fashion schools in the world.
Part of the State University of New York, FIT has advanced research on all aspects of the fashion industry since its founding in 1944. It achieves these goals thanks to its numerous resources and facilities. At the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, students can access photography studios with black-and-white darkrooms, painting rooms, a sculpture studio, a printmaking room, a graphics laboratory, display and exhibit design rooms, life-sketching rooms, and a model-making workshop. The Design/Research Lighting Laboratory is a development facility for interior design with 400 commercially available lighting fixtures, all controlled via the computer. In the Annette Green/Fragrance Foundation Laboratory, students can study the development of various fragrances.
Of particular interest is the FIT Museum, which features collections of clothing, textiles, and accessories. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 50,000 garments and accessories dating back to the 18th century, representing essential designers such as Adrian, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Dior. Inside the museum’s Fashion and Textile History Gallery, students can study a rotating selection of 200 historically and artistically significant objects, as well as student and faculty exhibitions.
Resources such as the museum give FIT students a complete understanding of the industry’s past. By looking back at what people have done in fashion, FIT students can better forecast the future, influencing the trends and styles of the next generation.
2. Pratt Institute School of Design
Founded in 1887 by industrialist Charles Pratt, the Pratt Institute has long been a leader in engineering, architecture, and fine arts. Since 2007, the Juliana Curran Terian Design Center instituted a new multidisciplinary approach within the School of Design, emphasizing the interdisciplinary collaboration and exploration that defines the Pratt approach.
From within the Design Center, students learn fashion from a concept-led, craft-based approach. With connections to other design fields, the Fashion Design program combines the art and design disciplines and focuses on visual and material studies. The program teaches fashion as an embodiment of culture as instituted via social frameworks, paying rigorous attention to production, craft, and contemporary aesthetics.
In collaboration with the school’s respected faculty, students develop their personal visions through every step of the process, emphasizing curiosity, imagination, improvisation, and play. The program gives students the skills to express their ideas through fluency with materials, traditional techniques, and digital technologies.
In addition, Pratt prides itself in its distinguished academic record, which builds in students a commitment to ingenuity, authenticity, creativity, and personal expression as well as an informed versatility.
These skills are on display in the school’s 2018 fashion show, in which graduates get to display their most recent creations. Vogue praised the collection as “an impressive show of talent which represented very different worldviews, with such wide-ranging inspirations as dark industrialism, bondage, corsetry, and twisted prep.” Fashionista lauded the show for its “sense of urgency and responsibility, for the young designers as well as those who watched the show, to come up with a responsible solution to the global climate change crisis.”
1. Parsons School of Design – The New School
One of the five colleges in New York’s The New School, the Parsons School of Fashion Design was established in 1896 by artists who wanted a more accessible, dramatic, and personal expression of art.
Today, the school continues those goals with innovative, rigorous programs and initiatives that have trained multiple generations of successful designers and leaders in the global industry. Parsons’s approach covers the entire range of fashion design and marketing, helping students develop their voices to thrive within a complex field while also creating beautiful, responsible, and relevant work.
Parsons features faculty consisting of industry professionals with expertise in design, marketing, PR, or merchandising. Not only does that experience give students insight into the inner-workings within the industry, but also connections that lead to internships and other opportunities within leading companies such as Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Under Armor, UNIQLO, Woolmark, and Kering.
The connections also allow Parsons to host events featuring industry leaders such as Ralph Lauren and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. In these events, guests such as Diane von Furstenberg, Julie Gilhart, and Cathy Horyn share insights into topics including globalization, sustainability, and branding. By attending these events, students at Parsons have opportunities to learn and network. But perhaps the greatest testament to Parson’s quality is the school’s impressive list of alumni, which includes some of the greatest designers in the industry, including Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Tom Ford, and Sophie Buhai.