Many people think of fashion design as a frivolous pursuit. For a lot of people, fashion is of little value and is mostly just about promotion of trends that come and go. But such an assumption could not be further from the truth. True, fashion usually involves the creation of stylish clothing. But more than aesthetics, fashion is also about creativity, transformation, and innovation. Any person would be surprised to find out that fashion has had a hand in changing society and culture. Consider how the famed Coco Chanel’s designs played a role in the liberation of women. When Chanel encouraged women to give up the corset for her loose and comfortable creations, she also gave them the freedom to do more and live more (Sischy). Consider as well how newer designers like Iris van Herpen are redefining society’s ideas of wearable clothes, garment materials, and modes of production (Lai). The verdict is clear: fashion is an important industry and fashion design is a viable career. But while a career in fashion design must be built on talent, perseverance, and ambition, it is crucial to also take note of facts such as the academic requirements and compensation the profession entails.
One of the most vital factors to consider when pursuing a career in fashion design is motivation. In the same way an aspiring nurse asks oneself “why I chose nursing”, one must ask and answer the question: why do I want to become a fashion designer? Motivation is crucial because a career in fashion design is not a perfunctory job. This work requires creativity. One must have vision in order to innovate and imagination in order to create. Fashion design also requires perceptiveness and sensitivity towards the clientele’s needs. One may say that fashion is similar to someone who offers ghostwriting services. A fashion designer must tailor a dress according to the character of the wearer just as a writer must custom-write an essay for a client. The famous designer Diane von Furstenberg’s creation of the wrap dress, for instance, reveals a keen understanding of women’s need for convenient and elegant clothing in a modern fast-paced world (Alexander). Becoming a fashion designer, therefore, requires a particularly original and inspired worldview. It is not a job for someone who values monotony and routine; it is calling for someone who has an adventurous taste.
A career in fashion design also benefits from education. It is true that many of the most accomplished and influential fashion designers in history did not have formal education in fashion. But most of them received intensive practical training. The great Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga, for instance, learned the tailoring at a very young age from his mother who was a seamstress. Today, a person dreaming of becoming a fashion designer has a full range of options when it comes to schools. There are many schools that provide extensive education on fashion design across the world. With enough competencies, a person can enter these colleges and receive the education he or she needs. With that being said, studying fashion does not come cheap. According to recent estimates, one year in undergraduate fashion design school may cost anywhere between $4,000 and $28,000. Costs often depend on the quality and scope of the education as well as the prestige of the school itself. For instance, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City costs around $12,000 a year for non-resident students. Some schools even go higher for more advanced courses. One year of graduate studies at the School for Design Parsons in New York City can cost $40,000 (Miller). The good thing is there are scholarships that offer assistance. Sometimes all it takes is one good scholarship essay for a person to acquire support. Going to the right school, however, has its benefits. Receiving a formal education in fashion design hones talent. An excellent school does not merely impart the knowledge and skills essential to the trade; it also enhances the talent of a student by refining their competencies.
A student of fashion design, though, must not rely on schooling alone. Practical experience is likewise crucial to a successful career. Once a person graduates from fashion school, he or she must search for and carefully pick internships or jobs that offer the promise of nourishing his or her talents. Talent cannot thrive if it is not fostered by the right people and the right environment. Christian Dior, the celebrated fashion designer known for his impeccable style, served as apprentice to the designer Robert Piguet; so did the renowned Hubert de Givenchy. These two men’s names went on to become synonymous with high fashion, and it is not a stretch to say that they owe part of their success to the person who trained them. These men of course had talent to begin with, but they would have not harnessed them well if they did not receive the kind of mentoring they did under a brilliant designer like Robert Piguet.
A career in fashion design can prove to be lucrative, too, for there are various positions that a person with a background on fashion design can occupy. The most obvious industry, of course, is in the fashion industry itself. Many graduates find jobs in fashion brands, especially those which are marketed to the general public. Whether it is for large multinational conglomerates or small homegrown businesses, there will always be companies that constantly look for fashion designers to enrich their collections. Others can also find jobs in industries that require the services of designers. An example is in cinema, television, and theater, since costumers are an indispensable element in stage and screen productions. Even publications require people who have a background in fashion design. Consider how magazines and newspapers often discuss fashion and lifestyle in general. These are all viable options that one can explore. According to PayScale, the average salary of a fashion designer is $65,000. This is $10,000 higher than the median income in the United States. A person with one year job experience can expect to earn $40,000, while a person with over 20 years of experience can earn as high as $93,000 (“Fashion Designer Salary”). These figures are usually for those who work for companies. Individual fashion designers can earn much more, especially if one becomes wildly successful. One only has to look at household names to realize the breadth of potential this career offers.
Despite what many may think about fashion design as a career choice, there is no denying fashion’s important role in everyday life. Fashion has been so deeply integrated into society’s daily existence that it is easy to lose sight of its value or influence. Fashion is not just about coming up with and wearing stylish clothes; it is also about elevating the design of garments to improve life in aesthetic and practical ways. To make it in the fashion design industry, one must have the talent, the learning, and the experience. Producing sensible fashion is not an easy task, and only those who push the limits of creativity and imagination can find their way to success in such an inspired profession.
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Alexander, Ella. “21 Classic Fashion Pieces That Go Way Beyond Trends.” Harper’s Bazaar, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/what-to-wear/news/g37836/timeless-iconic-fashion-must-haves/. Accessed 1 October 2020.
“Fashion Designer Salary.” PayScale. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Fashion_Designer/Salary. Accessed 1 October 2020.
Lai, Rosana. “The Alchemist: How Iris Van Herpen Has Redefined Couture Craftsmanship With Modern Technologies.” Tatler, https://ph.asiatatler.com/style/iris-van-herpen-fashion-designer-interview. Accessed 1 October 2020.
Miller, Scott. “How Much Does Fashion-Design School Cost?” Vocational Training, https://www.vocationaltraininghq.com/cost/fashion-design-school/. Accessed 1 October 2020.
Sischy, Ingrid. “The Designer Coco Chanel.” Time Magazine, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,988494,00.html. Accessed 1 October 2020.