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What It's Really Like to Study Fashion Design

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Fall is nearly here and I can't stop thinking about how STRANGE it feels to not be in school. I guess that's why writing this post has been on my mind a lot lately.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a fashion designer?

Maybe you've always dreamed of working with the top designers or being the next Coco Chanel or Christian Dior.

Perhaps you just love to sew clothes and you're starting to consider studying fashion design to help you better your craft.

It could be that you're just family (hi, Mom!) checking in on what I've got to say.

For whatever reason, you are here. So, I am going to give you the inside scoop on what it is REALLY like to study fashion design. Kinda like what my title promises :)

Many people that I encounter ask me what I studied in college. When I respond with Literature and Fashion Design I typically get a reaction somewhere between, "Ah, so you want to be a teacher," and "Oh wow, so you're gonna be like {insert most famous designer they know}!"

And I always have to keep a calm face and explain that no, I am not a teacher and no, I probably will not be the next Karl Lagerfeld or Miuccia Prada (but that would be pretty dang cool!).

What studying Fashion mostly prepared me for was working in a fast-paced, ever-changing industry. We learn draping (manipulating a two-dimensional piece of fabric around a three-dimensional body to create garments), flat pattern drafting (lots of math- measuring, drawing lines, angles, curves, etc. to make a flat object fit a 3D body), as well as entrepreneurship, business principles, and marketing.

The fashion industry is portrayed by a lot of media as a strictly glamorous world; unfortunately, this is not entirely true. Fashion definitely includes appealing and glitzy aspects such as haute couture, celebrities and more, but it also includes very (VERY) unglamorous ethical and moral problems. Did you know that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter, next only to the oil industry? (There are many ways to measure this statistic. Read these articles here and here.)

Fast fashion (stores such as Forever 21 and H&M) are seen as the biggest contributors to water and agricultural waste for the sake of trends. There have been efforts to recycle clothing for other uses such as insulation but most efforts are not time and cost effective. Secondly, hazardous chemicals have been found in materials used to manufacture clothing that ends up in our local malls.

But, the physical garments are not the only problems.

Many garment factories still pay workers minuscule amounts to make our clothes. If you thought the time when unsafe working conditions and unfair wages was in the past...I'm sorry to tell you, but you're wrong. Please watch an emotionally moving film called The True Cost. I'm not able to put it into words but you'll just never see your clothes the same way after watching this film.

I don't share this information with you lightly.

Fashion COULD save the world.

Despite the bad news, I definitely recommend a fashion program to anyone with an eye for beauty (in everything) and at least some interest in working in the clothing/retail industry. It's exciting to know that fashion is such an influential industry with more power than many recognize; there are many career paths in this industry and, ultimately, the decisions made here affect everyone.

Learning the technical skills required of designers was the highlight of my college career! Discussing and analyzing the industry from business and humanitarian points of view satiated my hunger for more information...

temporarily, I suppose.

I will never stop rooting for fashion and I will forever have the design spirit in my heart. It's who I am.

I hope I didn't scare you away! I have been really contemplating how to communicate my feelings about this effectively. Sometimes I really enjoy the reactions I get when I tell new friends about what I do, other times I feel guilty for not fulling disclosing the ugly side.

Is there anything else you're still wondering about? Maybe I missed something else really important. Let me know!

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