What They Don’t Teach You in Fashion School

During the time I studied apparel design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City I also had a full time job working in the industry. The work experience that I was receiving simultaneously while studying helped me understand how the skills I was learning in school would actually translate in the real world. I quickly realized that “they” don’t teach you everything you need to know in order to land a job. Here are some helpful hints to help transition from school to the industry.


Sewing, Pattern Making, Draping:
If you are interested in getting a job as a designer you may actually never sew, make a pattern make or drape a piece of cloth! This does not mean that you do not have the learn this important skills but it does mean that you will probably have to apply them in a different way. One way you will have to apply sewing and pattern making skills is when creating techpacks and doing garment fittings a necessary task of almost all designers.


Fashion Illustration:
Being able to create beautiful fashion illustrations with colored pencils, markers and paint is also a nice skill to have but is really not useful in the everyday life of many fashion designer. If you are looking for a job as a Fashion Artist or Illustrator, someone who creates artwork for editorial purposes, then obviously you will use this skill often. So if you are not the greatest artist- don’t sweat it!


Computer Skills:
So many schools do not stress the importance of computer skills. Sadly enough, I often have students in my Illustrator class that have just received a degree from a well know fashion or design school but do not have enough computer skills to actually get a job! If you don’t learn these skills in school, make sure you get the skills you need on your own. Some Adobe programs I recommend are Illustrator (obviously :), Photoshop, Indesign. For those of you looking to start your own company I would recommend dabbling in Dreamweaver (for web development) and Premiere and After Effects (for video editing).
You may also want to explore some 3D drawing programs such as Rhino, especially if you are looking to design jewelry and accessories.
Depending on the company you work for, many designers spend their entire day on the computer sketching and creating techpacks in Illustrator and without being proficient at this it may be hard to land a job or even an internship.


While school education is always important, lets not forget how important “on the job education” is. Most schools require you to have an internship as part of your curriculum but sometimes they amount of hours required for credit are not enough to land yourself a job. Do yourself a favor and get as much on the job experience as possible before graduating.