According to a recent report, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. To make the most of all that time, it is vitally important to choose a career that suits both personality and interests. For many, a career in fashion design fits the bill. Read on to learn more about the professional organizations, open access courses and other resources freely available online.
Professional organizations can be an invaluable resource for students and young professionals. These associations provide aspiring fashion designers with opportunities to identify and develop their skill sets, and, perhaps most importantly, to network and find jobs.
- American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences – Members of AAFCS enjoy networking and continuing education opportunities, an online career center, and a subscription to the Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences. In addition, the AAFCS offers certification opportunities in Fashion, Textiles, and Apparel Competency Assessment and Certification.
- American Sewing Guild – Members enjoy discounts on materials and supplies from participating retailers, including Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Hackcock Fabrics and other retailers who advertise in ASG publications. Networking opportunities and special activities are available through local chapters and at the national conference. At the annual meeting, members can attend two-days of seminars, lectures and workshops.
- Association of Sewing and Design Professionals – With a mission to support sewing and design businesses of all sizes, the ASDP has members who work as tailors, dressmakers and seamstresses; many of them creating and crafting custom designs and patterns for clothing, jewelry and accessories. Members enjoy networking, training and mentorship opportunities, client referrals, discounts and discounted rates for the Master Certification Design Program.
- Costume Society of America – Dedicated to advancing the “understanding of all aspects of dress and appearance,” the CSA encourages academic scholarship in the field. As such, members are eligible to apply for one of its many grants, including the CSA Travel Research Grant and the Adele Filene Student Presenter Grant. Members also enjoy access to special resources through the website and a subscription to Dress, the CSA’s prestigious journal. Online forums and regional publications are also available.
- Fashion Group International – Founded in 1930 by the likes of Elizabeth Arden, Edna Woolman Chase and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Fashion Group today strives to be the “pre-eminent authority on the business of fashion and design.” Members enjoy numerous networking opportunities, including being listed in the annual FGI Membership Directory, access to the exclusive Fashion Access Network (FAN) with its FGI Executive Job Bank and Discussion Forum. Members also enjoy special offers and privileges, as well as access to no-fee events. Newsletters with trends, insights and career advice are also provided.
- Fashion Industry Association – Unique to professional organizations and in keeping with its mission to help fashion professionals network and be successful, FIA membership is free, although registration is required. Members enjoy networking and collaboration opportunities through organized in-person gatherings and online forums. Members are able to post profiles, as well as events.
- World Model Association – Founded in 2001, the WMA connects models with agencies, photographers and talent scouts. Models enjoy access to an online job board and special events, have the opportunity to create a profile page and receive discounts on rental cars, cosmetics and other beauty products. Agencies, scouts and photographers enjoy the certification that membership provides, as well as notice of calls for offers and networking opportunities through WMA’s site.
Open Fashion Design Courseware
One of the most remarkable trends of the 21st century is the push toward open, free content, particularly in higher education. Savvy students who want to develop skills and keep up with the latest practices in fashion design, but have neither the time nor the money to enter a full-time degree program, take advantage of open courseware, offered by some of the best schools in the world.
- The Craft of Costume Design – MIT – In this course, offered through MIT’s Music and Theater Arts department, students learn about costume design through a range of activities, such as making hats, wigs, masks, jewelry, corsets and armor, along with techniques for dyeing, painting and distressing fabric.
- Fashion Design Webcasts – UC Berkeley – Dozens of short videos on a wide variety of fashion design topics are offered through the open access site of UC Berkeley, one of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. Presented via YouTube, topics include Fashion Design for Beginners, Design & Draw Fashion Sketches and How to Maximize Clothing Boutique Space.
- OU on the BBC: Art of Glamour – OpenLearn – Also broadcast on BBC ONE, this course, narrated by supermodel Jerry Hall, explores the design, architecture, music and fashion that developed into the movement known as Art Deco. Spanning the 1920s and 1930s, students explore the transformation of global fashion that occurred in the decades preceding WWII.
- Special Topics: New Textiles – MIT – Taught by Prof. Leah Buechley, this hands-on, graduate-level course focuses on applying new technologies to traditional craftwork. Topics include using composites, textile-based electronics, algorithms in pattern design and fabricating textiles. Students will explore a wide array of fibers and fabrics, including some made with resins, plastics and metal. Laser cutting, digital printing and CNC knitting and embroidery will also be covered.
Open Access Fashion Design Journals
Students of fashion need to keep informed on the latest scholarly research in the field. Although in the past most academic journals were subscription only, today many can be found free of charge, often in an open access database. A field that appeals to many disciplines, some of the best fashion design scholarship may be found in journals not strictly dedicated to fashion.
- International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education – This official publication of the Textile Institute is a hybrid of subscription content and free access articles and editorials online. Peer-reviewed research on apparel production, fashion education and design, pattern cutting and manufacturing may all be found. Some of this journal’s most popular, open access articles include ‘Significance of Body Image Among UK Female Fashion Consumers: The Cult of Size Zero, the Skinny Trend’ and ‘Global Communication Part I: The Use of Apparel CAD Technology.’
- Journal of Aesthetics and Culture – This open access peer-reviewed journal covers a wide range of human science topics, including fashion studies. Both empirical and theoretical articles may be found, as are editorials. History, gender studies, aesthetics and cultural studies are a few of the other topics that may be of interest to the student of fashion design. Representative articles include ‘Veils and Sunglasses’ and ‘Fashioning the Fashion Princess: Mediation – Transformation – Stardom.’
- Journal of Global Fashion Marketing – A hybrid of subscription content and free, open-access to select articles, this journal seeks to publish empirical papers and case studies that help advance the understanding of fashion marketing and practice. Some of the most popular (and free) articles available through this publication include ‘Can Fashion Blogs Function as a Marketing Tool to Influence Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Norway’ and ‘A Study of a Social Content Model for Sustainable Development in the Fast Fashion Industry.’
- Journal of the Textile Institute – Rigorously peer-reviewed, this journal seeks to publish scholarship on the science, management, economics, engineering and design of the textile industry. Although some articles require a subscription or purchase, many are available for free online including titles such as ‘Liquid Absorption Behavior of Nonwovens’ and ‘Analysis of Warp Knitted Fabric Structure. Part I: a 3D straight line model for warp knitted fabrics.’
Fashion Design Books
As Donna Karan famously noted, “Design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable.” To better develop this sense of balance, aspiring designers should consider reading one or more of these top publications from the world of fashion.
- The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris – This 2007 work by Alicia Drake tells the story of an epic fashion rivalry between Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. After conducting more than 100 interviews with the colleagues and friends of the two designers, Drake portrays the decadent, cosmopolitan, and dangerous world in which these two titans of the industry lived and worked.
- Chanel: Couture and Industry – Written by fashion historian Amy de la Haye, this book is both a biography of the woman who “made striped jerseys and loose trousers chic, costume jewelry desirable [and] the little black dress the height of fashion,” as well as an examination of her famous fashion house. Illustrations from the Victoria & Albert Museum collections make this work a joy to peruse.
- D.V. – Diana Vreeland’s autobiography spans her life, from a childhood in Paris to her time as fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and editor-in-chief at Vogue. Vreeland’s lively memoir covers her rise in the fashion world, as well as her friendships with luminaries like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Coco Chanel and Clark Gable.
- Fashion A to Z: An Illustrated Dictionary – Comprehensive, this guide covers every term and keyword fashion design students need to know. Over 2,000 entries and beautiful illustrations make this 2009 compilation by Alex Newman and Zakee Shariff an essential guide for aspiring fashion professionals.
- The Fashion Designer Survival Guide – Mary Gehlhar’s 2008 book is filled with advice for young designers, from a business perspective. Topics covered include writing a business plan, raising capital, identifying supply sources, and marketing, branding and creating a runway show. With a forward by famous designer Diane von Furstenberg and advice from Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan, this work will keep the entrepreneurial fashion designer on the right track.
- If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You – Written by PR professional Kelly Cutrone, this memoir takes the reader inside the surprisingly tough world of fashion. Cutrone’s honest advice on how to succeed in fashion made this read a New York Times bestseller.
- The Vogue Factor – In this behind-the-scenes rags-to-riches tale, former Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Kirstie Clements recounts 25 years of working at one of the world’s most influential fashion magazines. Showing how all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold, Clements’ memoir reveals the dangers and betrayals in the highly competitive world of high fashion, and pays homage to the industry as a whole.
Online Fashion Magazines
For instant access to the cutting edge of fashion, there is no better place to start than with the industry’s top magazines, nearly all of which are free online. With amazing photos, illustrations, in-depth interviews and profiles, fashion design professionals identify the latest trends and last year’s has-beens with a simple click.
- Elle – With a mission to help its readers develop their own personal style, Elle presents the latest in fashion with a smart, irreverent approach. Although it provides a wide range of lifestyle content, this magazine puts fashion first with feature articles, trend reports, must reads and, of course, lots of photographs.
- Gentlemen’s Quarterly – Aspiring to be the premier magazine for men’s fashion, culture and style for over 50 years, GQ “speaks to all sides of the male equation.” Fashion professionals keep current with the magazine’s Week in Style and Fashion Shows sections. An exploration of the fundamentals of men’s fashion can be found in its GQ Rules. Focusing on the well-dressed man from A to Z, even special sections devoted to Grooming, Shoes and Watches can be found.
- Glamour – What to wear and how to wear it are the focus of Glamour. Part of the Condé Nast publishing empire, Glamour boasts a print circulation of over 2,000,000. Trends are highlighted under its fashion pages with recurring features on Celebrity Style, Outfit Ideas, Bags and Shoes. The magazine rounds out its publication with articles that inspire and profiles of industry leaders.
- Harper’s Bazaar – With a focus on elegance, Harper’s Bazaar has been devoted to women’s fashion and design for over 140 years. On its Fashion pages, sections devoted to the latest collections, Street Style, Trends, Shopping Guides and the most recent fashion shows all can be found. Young designers may particularly enjoy the magazine’s profiles of the hottest people in the industry under its Fashion Designers page.
- InStyle – This online magazine provides full fashion coverage with features like What’s Right Now and Shop Like an Editor! In addition, InStyle takes fashion fiends behind-the-scenes with its InSide InStyle page, where aspiring fashion design professionals get a “peek at the people, things and scenes behind the brand.”
- Marie Claire – This magazine strives to be a style catalyst, devoting over half of its content strictly to fashion. Trends, Tips and How Tos are augmented with Fashion Videos, News and Street Style Daily. With its unique Behind the Cover, Marie Claire takes a step-by-step approach to creating the hottest looks of the day.
- Vogue – From high fashion to daily wear, Vogue provides full, up-to-date coverage on what’s happening in the fashion industry. Guides, Best Dressed, Most Wanted and 5 Days 5 Looks I Girl are among its popular pages. In addition, find quick reads about the brands, designers, editors, photographers, models and personalities of fashion with Voguepedia. Access to Vogue’s 400,000 plus images is also available with a subscription.
Conversational and engaging, blogs are a great way to explore the hottest topics in fashion. A combination of independent authors and those supported by traditional media outlets is recommended in order to get a complete picture of today’s trends and styles.
- ChiCityFashion – Shoe addict and foodie Jena Gambaccini believes “in the power of getting dressed.” Showcasing Chicago’s unique fashion sense, Gambaccini identifies trends, vendors, dos and don’ts. Unique to fashion blogs, she has a Careers tab where both jobs and internships in the Windy City may be found.
- Fashionista – With new posts daily, the full range of fashion – from top designers to department store discounts – are discussed, analyzed and showcased. Young fashion designers will find tips and advice spread throughout the site’s profiles and interviews of the most influential people in fashion today.
- Garance Doré – Paris transplant Doré posts from NYC on all things in street and runway fashion. On the basis that fashion is “one of the best ways to communicate,” this site is full of photos, thoughts and discussion of everything from the latest trends to the most classic styles.
- Peace Love Shea – Southern California fashion is highlighted on Shea Marie’s personal style archives. With over 1,000,000 page views a month, Shea is a fashion leader worth reading.
- The Sartorialist – The site of street style photographer Scott Schuman, this blog is filled with photos of the fashion-forward. A world traveler, Schuman takes his camera with him and posts photos of the most fashionable people he encounters across the globe.
- Streetgeist – Published by Alkistis Tsitouri and Aris Karatarakis, this blog is simplicity at its best. Consisting of photographs of the fashionable style regular people display everyday in L.A., this site is a great place to keep current on the latest trends in streetwear.
Who to Follow on Twitter
Twitter has become a favorite media outlet of the fashion industry. Designers, fans, producers and commentators post the latest news, trends, opinion and photographs as they develop. Aspiring fashion design professionals can take advantage of this expertise by following a few of the top accounts.
- @FashionOffice – Claiming to have a crystal ball, the tweeters of The Fashion Office identify and explain fashion trends and keep their followers “ahead of the curve.”
- @lapresmidi – Writer and editor-at-large of Fashionista Lauren Sherman tweets her favorite fashion, accessories, analyses and advice, including live tweets from New York’s Fashion Week.
- @MyFashionLife – Style, shopping guides, news and fashion, MyFashionLife is the twitter account of the well-loved online magazine of the same name.
- @refinery29 – Emerging trends, best in shopping and style and DIY tips for the latest in street style, Refinery29 should be followed by every serious fashion design student.
- @TimesFashion – From the London newspaper, The Times, come tweets of the latest in fashion from a British perspective.
- @VogueParis – Paris fashion in 140 characters or less, a majority of Vogue Paris tweets link to photos. Although some posts are en Français, most are in English.