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What is Fashion and Apparel Design?
Fashion design began in the 19th century when Charles Frederick Worth, an English clothing designer, began to place his name on clothing produced by his fashion house in Paris. The term couturier, women's clothing designer, was invented to describe Worth. The date typically given by historians for the start of the fashion industry is 1858. Prior to that date, though fashion existed, it was dictated by the buyers, typically the aristocracy, who would instruct dress makers in what styles they wished to be fitted. With the advent of fashion design, designers such as Charles Frederick Worth and the many that came after him, were and are able to affect what is fashionable. In the case of Worth, he was able to determine what his clients would wear, offering suggestions to his clientele.
It was also around this time that clothing companies began to use illustrations of designs to market their clothing. Rather than going through the expensive and time consuming habit of producing a sample dress to be modeled for potential clients, now designers would produce painting of potential outfits from which interested clients could choose and approve, after which production would begin on that particular set of clothing.
A degree in fashion and apparel design will teach students to sketch figures, fabric and garments, utilize theories and historic perspectives, create original designs, use new technologies and understand the fashion and textile industries. Students interested in fashion and apparel design can obtain an associate, bachelors or masters degrees. Currently a doctorate degree in fashion design is only offered by Cornell University. During the application process some schools may require or suggest that applicants submit a portfolio. If you are pursuing a bachelor's degree you may be required to obtain an associate's degree prior to entering a two year bachelor's program and may have students take design and/or sewing tests.
Course work for fashion and apparel majors is varied and may include:
- History of Fashion
- Shoe Design
- Computer Applications
- Costume Construction
Employment Opportunities, Salary and Job Growth
The fashion industry can be lucrative but it is a small growth industry with a large barrier to entry. Though the average wage for a fashion designer is $74,500, the starting wages are much lower until a designer can become established within the industry. The stratification and hierarchy in place can be difficult to surmount when attempting to have a career as a fashion designer. Often individuals will work in a variety of positions under more experienced or notable designers, in order to glean information about production and design.
Some potential jobs for fashion and apparel design graduates include:
- Assistant Designer
- Fashion Illustrator
- Assistant Buyer
- Marketing Assistant
- Pattern Maker
Industry Related Advice and Related Fields
The best opportunities for those pursuing a career in fashion can be found in the film industry, shoe manufacturing, and wholesale. Those with more advanced degrees will find they can fan out into other areas of fashion, such as market research, management, or become more specialized in their focus, such as working leather or designing clothes for children. Additionally, a master's degree will allow the degree holder to teach as well. The amount of experience one manages to gain in the fashion industry, the more likely he or she is to find steady work.
Achieving notoriety has many parts, such as networking, diligence, skill, talent, and luck. No one thing alone will provide an individual the breakthrough needed in order to establish a name in the industry, though some changes to the system are occurring through digital connectivity, with the internet assisting in the dissemination of designs and evolution of ideas. Fashion Blogs are able to focus on the famous as well as the undiscovered, allowing for wide exposure for starting designers, as well as sales and custom work through personal sites. Individuals wishing to enter into fashion design today would do well to educate themselves in the art of internet usage and advertising.