Have you ever dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, yet you don't know where to start? Have you ever figured out what was the best school to study fashion design? Have you worried about tuition and other fees and figured out how to pay for them?
This article will give you something to consider when choosing a fashion design to study. You have two options to choose which you believe is the best or easiest way to become a fashion designer. It doesn't matter if you can afford school or not because it will apply to everyone who wishes to become a fashion designer.
Tuition & Fees Breakdown
Let's just Columbia College Chicago, for example, that has a fashion program, which includes fashion design, fashion business, merchandising, retailing, production, and marketing. The cost of tuition and other fees may not exactly be how much you'll pay, but it just gives you an idea of what estimate tuition looks like for full-time students.
Tuition - $20,094
On campus room and board - $13,039
Books and material supplies - $1,500
Fees* - $550
Annual tuition total = $35,183
*fees may include registration for class, transportation card, student activity, and health center.
If you want to exclude on campus room and board, the total cost of annual tuition would be $22,144.
So, if you are planning to attend Columbia College to study fashion design and expecting to get Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA), then you may need to stay in school for four years. You will be able to graduate as long as you finish and pass all course requirements. The total cost of the entire four-year college tuition would be $88,576 without the on campus room and board cost. If you choose to live in on-campus dorm for four years, it would be $140,732.
Of course, you still could get financial aid, possibly scholarships and take out student loans on your four-year tuition. The financial aid may not be much, but at least you still get a discount. After college, you still are going to be dealing with student loan nightmare for almost the rest of your life.
But, what if...?
Oh, yeah, what if you don't really need school to be a successful fashion designer? Take a look at Coco Chanel or Gianni Versace who were ones of the most famous and successful fashion designers in the world. Guess what? They never attended any of the fashion design schools. With their amazing talents, they were able to make it into the fashion industry without educational background or a degree. Not just them, there were other fashion designers like them that made it into the fashion business.
How do you become a fashion designer without going to school? It's very simple. All you have to do is buy a sewing machine, special rulers, a dress form, a couple of good books, a large roll of brown kraft paper, other sewing materials, find information on Internet, and be self-taught. If you need to improve your sewing skill, there are some fabric stores that offer affordable sewing courses. You have to have amazing skills and talents to make your dream come true. If you have a truly passion for fashion, you have to be willing to suffer for it and work very hard during days and nights to make it. Fashion design is not for everyone. This is not easy to break into the fashion world, as highly competitive as it is.
Before you decide to pursue fashion design, unless you already know what you'll be getting yourself into, you will need to do a lot of research on your specific field of study. Not just researching on Internet, but you also will need to meet with fashion professionals and teachers. The best way to meet them is through the LinkedIn if you don't know anyone personally in that area of your career choice. They will tell you more about their experiences and may even invite you to visit their place of employment if you're lucky. That may help you understand every aspect of fashion industry and how it works.
The Estimated Material Costs
Sewing machine - $50 to $500 both in new or used condition.
Serger - $190 to $525 only if it was new. There are low-cost used sergers on Ebay, Craigslist, or in stores that sell used sewing machines and sergers.
Dress form (NOT adjustable dress form*) - $60 - $200
Books - Less than $1,000.
36” Brown kraft paper - $65.99, but the price may vary from store to store.
Sewing materials** - $500 or less.
Sewing class - $35 to $100
Fabrics - $3.99 per yard for muslin. $2.99 to 5.99 per yard of any kind of material. Expensive fabrics are up to $35 per yard.
*Adjustable dress form may not be great for draping or body measurement.
**Sewing material costs may include threads, needles, pins, pivot, ripper, curve and 45º angle rulers, etc.
If I buy these materials that I need to teach myself, they would cost me $1,055.94. It may seem like a lot of money to spend on your self-teaching project, but isn't it better than paying $140,732 for your four-year college tuition?
I'm sure you are thinking, “What about a college degree? Wouldn't that help you get a good job?”, but the companies are hiring qualified applicants based on skills and experiences that are far more important than a college degree. As we all should know, working life in the real business world is very different from what students learn in school. For that reason, employers value experience more than a Bachelor's degree. To become an independent fashion designer or work in a fashion house, BFA or BA is almost never required.
Is $88,576-$140,732 four-year tuition worth your money to pursue fashion career, especially if you want to open your own boutique to design clothes? Is it really necessary? That surely seems like a lot of money and trouble to go through just to get BFA/BA that the companies or employers probably won't even care about. Why would you really need college instructors when you can actually teach yourself how to design at home to save yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars? If you believe that going to college may be the best way to get a critique and feedback about your work, then you will have no problem paying that much money to receive the critique you want.
Are you thinking about how to create a nice portfolio? There are some good books and plenty of information available on Internet that will tell you how to build a professional portfolio. To get a better idea of what your portfolio should look like, use search engine to see examples of fashion design portfolios. Since a lot of employers are interested in seeing digital portfolios, it is a good idea to create a good website for your portfolio. If you want to make it look more professional, buy your own domain for this portfolio website.
Lastly but not least, it all comes down to what your true passion is and what solution is best for you without worrying about making a mistake or being in a huge debt after college. Unless you are planning to teach at a high school or college, (which requires you to get a Master's degree, but that's another story) Bachelor's degree in fashion design isn't just enough to get a good paying job. Before you study at any private art college, be sure to check the clothing and apparel headquarters you wish to work for and research on their job descriptions and requirements to understand what courses are required to take. For instance, to become a Designer for little boys' clothing and apparel at Target, you will need to have technical skills such as Photoshop/Illustrator Adobe or computer-aided design system. To work for a company or small business as a patternmaker, you must know how to use a computer-aided design to design patterns. AccuMark Pattern Design software is a popular CAD for patternmaking in fashion industry.
That is all for now. If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them. You may leave a comment here for your questions or feedback.