Studying fashion design in high school can lead to all kinds of careers
Doing fashion design in high school can lead to a huge variety of careers which can vary from working as a designer for a large company to setting up as an independent fashion designer with their own label. There are several careers that might not be obvious unless you know of someone involved for example becoming a fashion journalist, window dresser, stylist, fashion photographer, merchandising expert, fashion retail buyer, and so on. Follow your heart – so if you have a passion for spending all your money on clothes then maybe studying fashion design in high school will be a step to becoming a fashion buyer where you can actually get paid for your favourite pastime. You can get a job in which you have to spend large budgets just on clothes! Wouldn’t that be cool? The important thing is that if you enjoy fashion then there are many ways in which you can make it pay in the future.
They say that to follow your own inspirations is the most certain route to success especially if you are clever enough to find a college that will support and encourage you to develop your own style. The question always in the back of your mind should be what motivates you to want a particular career. Fashion in particular can be very glamorous and exciting but it is primarily incredibly hard work especially if you want to get to the top. Being honest about what excites you will allow you to pitch your learning in the right direction to get you to a career that will not only keep you inspired, but will also give you incredible job satisfaction and pay for you to live your life comfortably
In the first instance anyone making any career choices should consider their own personality. Fashion means different things to people. Some will view it as an expression of what is within, others use it as a cover up hiding their individuality, some see it as a way of expressing a belonging to a club or social class, others just love the colours and textures of the clothes that they wear allowing their individuality to shine. What does fashion mean to you? When you look at others dress sense, how to see them? Are you inspired by what they wear and how they style their outfits? How do you interpret them as people? Do you like to keep up to date with what’s hot and what’s not? Be warned though – what’s hot today is seriously uncool tomorrow!
When you are doing fashion design in high school, the questions are perhaps not considered as seriously as someone who is about to leave college to launch themselves into their chosen career. However, I would urge anyone to think about what they are doing to make sure that they choose the appropriate college to suit their character and interests. The choosing of the most appropriate route for your career in fashion design when you leave high school is greatly influenced by what you imagine a fashion career is going to be like. If you are into fashion design because you love clothes then you are going to choose a different approach to someone who wants to experience the red carpet /catwalk glamour.
Get your portfolio together – while you are still in high school!
To make the most of studying fashion design in school it is always a very good idea to get a portfolio together which will always stand you in good stead for any design oriented career. You don’t have to spend hours slaving over one drawing, but rather you should make as large a collection of material as you possibly can. Experiment with different materials, take lots of photos of anything – colours, textures, clothes, window displays, theatre and television costumes, get your friends to dress up and take photos of them, and so on. The aim is to pack your portfolio so that it is heaving with ideas that show your energy and enthusiasm. It is always a good idea to have a sketch book which is not something to be picture perfect but rather a picture diary. Use it to make a notes of what inspires you, interests you and even things that you don’t like – just make sure that you say what you feel about what you have included. The sketchbook should have experiments with colours and textures. Play with different media, stick in pictures from magazines, and include photos as well as drawings. Whatever you do don’t fill it full of whatever you can find – anyone seeing it will know whether your imagination has been triggered by the things you have included. Only include those things that have sparked your creativity. Don’t be afraid to push out the boundaries. All your work should be an expression of who and what you are.
Research the colleges – look further than the obvious choices – dig deep into their records and see whether it really inspires you. See if you can get a day or two to look around the campus, meet the other students who will always give you a fair measure of what a place is like. Think about all aspects of college life – it is not all about either work or play it is a happy balance between the two. Find out what the students had in their portfolios that got them through the doors, and you may find that they have done something you haven’t thought of that inspires you. In any case, make sure you understand the admission criteria of the colleges and bear this in mind when you are getting your portfolio together.
Get the most of your fashion design teachers while you are still at high school – NOW!
Enthusiastic students will more often than not encourage the teachers to give of their best. There is nothing more boring than trying to stand in front of a class full of people who don’t want to be there and don’t want to listen. If however, you show how much the subject interests you the teachers will bend over backwards to help you on your way. If not, their crap teachers and you need to find other resources to get what you want. But for the most part they will have loads of experience, contacts and information that will help you answer your queries and help you to get where you want to be. Some teachers however, can get stuck in the curriculum which whilst it may get you through the exams, won’t always be any good for you to explore other possibilities. So it is up to you to take ideas to them to see if they can give you something extra. They will have been through college so will know what is likely to be required and let’s face it there are many teachers who fantasize about being able to say that they inspired the next greatest….
You can get them to help you in a variety of ways not just looking at any extra work you might do. Work with them to find companies who will be prepared to take you on for your work experience and if those businesses are open to employing young people see if you can get a part time / holiday job. Even if you are sweeping the floors, you will be amazed at what you will learn just by being in a creative environment. You never know too, when that urgent order comes through the door you might be able to show your worth by actually helping get the more complex jobs done. Whatever your role, it is all good experience and this experience will help you appreciate the mechanics of what goes on behind the scenes.
Don’t be afraid to approach fashion designers to get more information about their work and their careers – even if you are still in high school.
Our fashion design company (one of the top in the world) is approached every day by students who want to know more, come on work experience and some have even offered to pay large sums of money just to have a week’s experience of being in our working environment. Those people obviously appreciate the benefits of doing this. However, one of the things that have become increasingly difficult to deal with are the questionnaires. Great long lists of questions are sent through asking about anything from our personal lives, to what got us started, how we work, what are the inspirations, etc etc.. The lists are pages long and to answer them fully would take several hours. So …. if you approach a fashion designer for information for your high school project then keep it simple. Ask them for any further information – they generally know what you are looking for and those that get frequent requests will have a basic pack of information that they can send out. If you have specific questions relating to a particular project – again keep it simple. If you bombard them with too many – you won’t get any answers. These people are incredibly busy and even though they really do want to encourage new talent they really do not have the time to give each and every student the individual attention required. If you are asking for work experience then it is vital that you illustrate your passion and enthusiasm – be prepared to show them something of your portfolio. If you have digital images of your work then ask to be able to send them through. Be warned though – not every fashion designer wants to have large picture files cluttering up their inbox – so make sure that the files you send through are not enormous originals. You can downsize the files without down grading the quality.
Fashion design basics – get practical!
One of the biggest criticisms that we hear time and again is the fact that the colleges and the schools do not teach enough practical skills. If you want to take your fashion design beyond high school then get on that sewing machine and make things. The more that you understand how different fabrics behave, the better you will understand how final designs will work. After a while it becomes a basic instinct which after many years of experience will allow you to have an idea pop up in your mind and be able to make it work without having to do an engineering degree to make sure that each bit joins together in the right places. Bear in mind that you are essentially learning to make something that is to go onto a body that is completely unpredictable in the way that it may behave and move about. Added to this you want to cover the body in style – your designs make it a unique expression of a very functional item. Practically you also want the cloth to cover up the bits that need to be covered up however the body may move. The more that you make now – the better. If you haven’t done so before – start with something very simple. This will not only help you learn the basics but will give you confidence to try something more adventurous as you gain experience.
A final word about fashion design – be original!
When you are in school it is easy to not appreciate your own originality. Don’t copy! Don’t emulate another designer’s work! It is perfectly valid and reasonable to be inspired but there are enough variations in existence for you to create your own perfect version of whatever it is you are designing and making. Whilst it may be a