A guide to courses in fashion designing (plus requirements)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're considering a career as a fashion designer, following the right path of education can help to expedite the process. Depending on your interests or the specialisation you want to pursue, there's a range of different courses to choose from, each with its own unique requirements. The easiest way to decide which course is best for you is to understand what they all entail and what sort of work they qualify you for. In this article, we define courses in fashion designing, including the different types of course, their requirements, the skills you develop and where they can lead you.

What are courses in fashion designing?

There are many courses in fashion designing that teach you valuable skills for the field or in specific sub-fields of fashion design. With these skills, you can learn how to make clothes or other accessories. Fashion design is a broad subject and many of these particular programmes diverge from one another, but they still provide transferable skills and useful qualifications. This can include general certificates, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. With each of the courses, you gain hands-on experience and get the chance to build your fashion design portfolio.

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Types of fashion design courses

Various organisations and institutions oversee these programmes. There are many universities that offer undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in fashion design as a whole, but there are also those that take a more specialised approach. Each of these qualifications can help secure a role in fashion design, but you may find courses that match your specific interests more engaging, as they provide deeper insight into the topic that you're most passionate about. Here are some of the types of courses you can take:

Fashion design

Broad fashion design degrees provide flexibility, as you can study this general subject and choose to specialise in a specific discipline later on. Throughout the course, you may develop a strong fashion identity of your own while building your pre-existing knowledge to give a greater understanding of fashion design. This course can be a university degree or a diploma/certificate from a fashion-specific organisation.

Textiles

A core part of fashion is the fabrics and materials you work with on a daily basis. Textiles courses focus on these materials and how you can use or develop them to enhance a design. These programmes teach you about knitting, embroidery, trend forecasting and other aspects of fashion specific to using the most appropriate and effective materials for each design that you develop.

Jewellery design

Fashion design includes the accessories that people wear, such as jewellery. These courses introduce students to the creative processes and design ideologies behind popular earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other jewellery. You may collaborate with a pre-existing name brand and get to create and showcase your own jewellery while using a wide range of materials.

Buying and marketing

Though buying and marketing courses don't involve much design work, they're invaluable for making designers more commercially aware. Many designers choose to set up their own businesses, so understanding how to appeal to audiences and purchase materials is advantageous. Planning fashion ranges and adapting to consumers produces marketable designs that are vital for continued business.

Footwear design

Footwear design is not a common university course, but there are still programmes across the country of varying types that work with shoes and other footwear. This can encompass casual, athletic or formal footwear ranges and the teaching specific skills for constructing footwear. The course also helps students build their portfolios and may even include learning computer-aided design to facilitate their products.

Graphic design

Fashion is a visual medium, so learning how to create graphic representations of items can be an effective marketing or proposal tool. You can use graphic design software to advertise a product to consumers or to create prototypes that show off the silhouette, texture and colour of a design. You may also decide that you enjoy the graphic design process more than creating physical versions of designs. In this case, you can specialise as a graphic designer and focus your efforts on creating marketing materials.

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Requirements for fashion design courses

Requirements for these courses vary between institutions and whether or not the course is a degree or a certification. For non-university accreditations, such as diplomas and certificates, there are classroom-based and home-based programmes. Home-based programmes allow you to study without having to relocate. These courses often don't have formal educational requirements, though they may require direct payments that do not fall under student finance.

University degree requirements are often far more rigorous and require four GCSE passes. This covers results from A star to C or 4 to 9, depending on the grading system. They may also require a set number of UCAS tariff points, which typically range from 90-120. Alternatively, a Foundation Art & Design qualification is sometimes a valid prerequisite, as is strong performance on a BTEC diploma such as those above. 30 points on an International Baccalaureate may also suffice.

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Most valuable skills for fashion designers

Throughout a fashion design course, you're likely to learn many key skills that assist you in your career. Prioritise honing and developing them so that you can demonstrate to employers that you have the skills they desire. Fashion design courses are generally accessible enough that prior talents or skills aren't essential, but courses may be competitive. Being able to demonstrate your existing skills with a portfolio can make it easier to get a place on a course. Here are some of the most valuable skills to learn and improve on to be a successful fashion designer:

Art skills

Fashion drawings don't necessarily require you to possess great artistic talent. So long as you can communicate your design on a visual level and apply any feedback you receive, you can swiftly learn to produce detailed sketches that show off your vision and idea. Most of the drawings involve pencils and rulers, and courses explain the drawing process to you. You also learn how colours blend together or clash in clothing, which improves the aesthetics of your creations. Courses also teach you to produce artistic samples of your designs to see how they function in reality.

Communication

Fashion is often a collaborative process. You're unlikely to be in a position where you can design whatever you like. Instead, you may have a specific client's needs to fulfil, and this means being able to talk to them, understand what they want and reach compromises. You can learn this in your course, alongside how to communicate any ideas you have, visually or otherwise, to the team you're working with. Marketing for the design or brand may also depend upon your ability to communicate the style, tone and intent of a piece of clothing or an accessory.

Sewing

As part of producing artistic samples of your designs, you benefit from strong sewing skills, both by hand and with a sewing machine. There are various sewing styles for you to understand and easily replicate beyond a simple running stitch. Your own design philosophy can influence the sewing styles you learn, but it's beneficial to become familiar with as many as possible to expand your repertoire. Many courses teach you how to sew from a basic level which helps you to gain a wider understanding of the textiles and materials you use in a fashion career.

Business

When becoming a fashion designer or working in any adjacent role, you market both your designs and yourself as a fashion designer and the brand you represent. Being a successful fashion designer requires a basic level of business skills, including budgeting, marketing and general organisation. In some cases, you plan and execute a design or range. You might be alone or you might be working as a team, but you still require a substantial business acumen to get the job done and satisfy each party, especially the client.

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