I would know, I’ve been a fashion student.
Naive me believed that by studying fashion, I’d be entering a world of glitz and glam, mixed in with a few scenes from The Devil Wears Prada. The walk-in wardrobe part? You guessed it. My dream.
Yes, on occasions my fashion school did somewhat resemble a scene taken straight from Project Runway or America’s Next Top Model. Nonetheless, it was different to what anybody could imagine and I was lucky enough to experience it for two wonderful years.
If, like 16-year-old me, you too want to study fashion, I’m here to give you some pointers on what to expect. So, without further ado, here are 13 things to know about studying fashion.
#1: Self-Motivation Is Key
Seriously, procrastinating will get you nowhere. Say goodbye to binge-watching a Netflix series shortly before a big assignment is due. Being motivated and determined is vital if you want to stay on top of things and get through fashion school successfully. Fortunately, I was driven, so getting work done on time wasn’t a problem. I knew that if I wanted amazing grades, shopping trips would have to wait. I lived by this as a fashion student and you should too.
Oh, and please, don’t cram in your work the night before. It’s never a bright idea and will prove difficult. A 4000-word essay to complete by morning? No thanks.
The sacrifices you make may feel like the end of the world, but the feeling of relief once you’ve finished your work is amazing!
#2: “Can You Design Clothes?”
I was asked this question numerous times whilst studying fashion and my answer was, and still is, no. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I studied the business side of fashion – think writing, social media, marketing, buying, website design and PR – not textiles and design. What’s more, although several creative modules were taught, I was never required to sew for any of them. Therefore, I didn’t need to learn how. Thankfully, there’s far more to fashion than just sewing, lucky for me!
#3: Active-Wear Will Become Your Uniform
I mean, not literally, but with such a large proportion of students rocking up to class in leggings and jumpers, it may as well be. I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to get to the tube station and the last thing on my mind was “dressing to impress”.
Thankfully, that mind-set was shared by many other students meaning you were never the odd-one-out when wearing Converse. Also, I’ve never worn my Victoria’s Secret active-wear as much as I did as in those two years. At least I got my money’s worth!
#4: It’ll Take Time To Find Your Niche in The Industry
Although not totally unheard of, it is unusual to stick to one niche within the fashion industry throughout your career. Believe me, it’s not a bad thing to change your mind, no matter how much –there’s hundreds of career paths within the industry to choose from. When I began my course at 16, I was relatively set on having a career in marketing after I graduated. Yet, while I haven’t ruled that career path out completely, I have in recent years taken a liking to other areas in the industry; PR and journalism mainly. I love writing and combining that and fashion seems to be a win-win.
Always be open and never feel bad for changing your career path – merchandising to social media, blogging to designer or otherwise. It’s normal and change is good. You’re in the same boat as countless other students and, even adults, who’ve been in the fashion industry for decades.
#5: Mood Board Galore
By the end of your fashion course, you’ll be a professional mood board creator.
Making mood boards was usually the first step in getting inspiration for a creative piece of work. Whether it be a digital mood board using Pinterest or one made from magazine clippings; they’ll help to give you a clear sense of what you want to portray in your project. I enjoyed making them because it gave me a chance to be more artistic.
Even if you choose to do a fashion retail/business course like I did, it’s doubtful that you’ll escape fashion school without creating a mood board. I did warn you!
#6: Finance Class
If you decide to study a fashion retail/business course, the probability of you having to study a module or two in finance is likely. Although, the prospect of this didn’t thrill me – or my classmates for that matter – I understood how important the information was for my potential future business endeavours.
Hundreds of people want to start their own business nevertheless, not everyone comprehends how the financial side works. How can a business succeed without a strong sense of this understanding? So, that’s what I was taught, in great depth and it was worth it. I learnt so much that will help me with my career and personal life.
Don’t worry, if like me, maths isn’t your strong point. I was initially apprehensive too. However, it was far different to what you learn in maths class at secondary school and it made more sense.
#7: Take Every Opportunity Given To You
The opportunities offered to you while studying fashion are fantastic and you shouldn’t let them slip through your fingers. Even if you think you won’t enjoy what’s available, you may not get the same opportunities again. And who knows, you might surprise yourself.
So, whether you are being taken to a fashion show, large event, offered a work placement or masterclasses with brands, go with the right attitude. The worst thing that happens is you don’t like it, but never-mind, you can’t enjoy everything.
#8: It Isn’t Easy
I think it’s fair to say that some people don’t fully understand or value the hard work that goes into studying fashion and the pressure we get put under. Some see it as taking the easy way out. This isn’t true at all.
Frankly, fashion school tested me. I’m surely not the only one who felt this way – just ask the next fashion student! I believe our enormous efforts should be recognised and appreciated, not just swept under the covers because of what we chose to study. It was difficult and stressful like any other course. I didn’t work any less than the next student and I certainly wasn’t taking the easy way out. Neither would you if you chose to study fashion.
Remember, don’t let anyone put you down for choosing to study something you love. Plus, it’s none of their business what you study, only your own.
#9: You Get To Have Fun
Besides occasionally feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with heavy and hectic course-work, for the most part, I enjoyed myself. Considering fashion was what I’d wanted to study for years, I was in my element. I did have several “pinch me” moments. I felt so lucky to be studying what I love and my passion for the industry grew each day.
If you opt for the right course for you – and there’s so many to types to choose from – then you’ll love fashion school just as much as I did.
#10: Save, Save, Save!
Studying fashion is usually expensive. This was the case for me when I studied creative modules. However, if you choose to study a predominantly creative course such as design, you’ll pay out more. Purchasing fabrics and equipment for each assignment, paying photographers, printing imagery – just some of the things you’ll have to put money aside for.
Everything adds up; perhaps you don’t get a coffee every morning (or bring one from home) and stick to meal deals for lunch.
#11: You Learn To Pronounce Designer’s Names
This may seem like a silly point to make, but some students didn’t know how to pronounce designer’s names correctly. It’s something to learn for sure. If only because you don’t want to feel embarrassed when you’re corrected by people within the industry.
Also, I did realise how strange the pronunciation of some of the designer names were too! Who would have guessed Hermes isn’t said the way it’s spelt?
#12: You’ll Realise It’s The Industry For You
I had a few moments – in times of immense stress – when I questioned whether fashion was the right industry for me to go into. Now though, I know for sure that it is 100 percent.
I can’t see myself working in an industry other than fashion. No matter how hard things get for you or how many deadlines you meet by the skin of your teeth, you’ll realise you wouldn’t give it up for anything.
#13: The Feeling of Accomplishment
Once I had completed my fashion course, I felt so proud of myself. I received my glossy certificate and I had attained the highest grades possible. To me, this showed that all the hard work I’d put into the course had paid off. Additionally, I had proven to myself I was good enough to start a career in the fashion industry.
The sense of accomplishment I got from being a fashion graduate will stay with me forever.
How much more tempted or interested are you in studying fashion? If you have an itch to read more, check out our interview with editor in chief of i the stylist.