Want to Design Clothes? Here's Everything You Need to Know
The rarified world of fashion can seem even more so when you're starting out, but even the Marc Jacobses and Phoebe Philos of the world had to start somewhere. And while the glitz and glamour and empire-building may well be in your future, learning how to actually design the clothes always comes first.
Sounds simple, right? Okay, not exactly. But the internet is a wonderful place (at least it can be), and there are more resources available than ever to help you get started, from YouTube tutorials demonstrating sketching techniques to in-depth interviews with designers discussing how they got to the top of their field (and, just as importantly, how they navigated all the bumps along the way).
Below, we've gathered these all in one place, along with links to programs that will help you turn your passion into a career.
Top Fashion Design Schools:
For a comprehensive look at educational options in the field, don't miss Fashionista's and Business of Fashion's annual rankings of the best fashion schools in the world, which take into account surveys of students past and present, feedback from HR execs, annual tuition, job placement, opportunities for practical training, and more. Here are a few of the top choices, along with their star alumni:
- Central Saint Martins (London, United Kingdom); notable alumni: Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo
- Parsons, the New School for Design (New York); notable alumni: Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Donna Karan, Anna Sui
- Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp, Belgium); notable alumni: Demna Gvasalia, Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela, Peter Pilotto
- Fashion Institute of Technology (New York); notable alumni: Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Nina Garcia, Nanette Lepore
- Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong; Lacoste, France); notable alumni: Azéde Jean-Pierre, Thomas Finney
- ESMOD (Paris); notable alumni: Olivier Rousteing, Suzy Menkes, Catherine Malandrino, Thierry Mugler
- Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (Los Angeles); notable alumni: Monique Lhuillier, Chriselle Lim, Lubov Azria
Practical Advice From Must-Read Interviews:
"Work your ass off and make sure that you're giving it 150 percent. An internship is not just an internship. I constantly remind my team and myself and anyone who is trying to get to the next level, it doesn't matter if you're bringing someone a coffee, it doesn't matter if you're plunging a toilet. I've done it myself when I first started my company." — Marissa Webb, designer (Fashionista)
"As long as you do your work effectively and don't procrastinate, rather than complaining about it, you can get things done. A lot of students spend their time complaining when they should be working instead, but they should know how lucky they are to pursue this particular career. Usually, they've chosen this for themselves—I hope no one forced them to do this. Yes, there's a lot of work, but if you really want it, you'll have time for both your school work and your personal life." — Maria Van Nguyen, then Parsons senior (Who What Wear)
"You should enjoy the process of every day. It is the journey of all these days which will constitute your career, not one specific goal. An achievement is not one day in the future, it is the sum of all of these moments where you have lived, and loved, and nourished your passion." — Christian Louboutin, designer (Teen Vogue)
"In today's world you have to interact. You can't be some difficult, shy person who is not able to look somebody in the face; you have to present yourself. You have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus and what you believe in." — Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue (Dazed)
"Don't be afraid to draw upon your own life experiences. Do it in a way that it can become open to other points of reference, but for me one of the quickest ways to find something universal is to start with something very personal; especially with clothes. Finding a way to balance the fascination for the new or modern or unexpected with something a bit more intimate and relatable can be very powerful." — Patrik Ervell, designer (Complex)
Videos to Watch:
"How to Become a Fashion Designer with Alexa Chung"
"Ralph Lauren: How I Built a Fashion Empire"
Tutorial - Fashion Figure Step by Step
What Does it Take to Be a Fashion Designer?
YouTube/KQED Art School
"Pattern-Making Workshop with Shingo Sato"
YouTube/The New School
For even more inspiration, get to know seven female designers we love and how they're revolutionizing the industry.