Most Americans, if they are honest, own closets jam packed with clothing – most of which they neither need nor wear. Despite the sheer volume of apparel already owned, U.S. consumers just can’t get enough. They easily spend an average of $1,700 on new apparel items each year.

Some people equate the kinds of clothes they wear with their impending success in life, and always are in pursuit of the latest styles and high fashion.

Because the fashion industry includes a global collection of designers, manufacturers, merchandisers and retailers, what is considered in style one day may be passé the next. The high demand to stay on top of current trends means the fashion and design industry always is in search of new and creative designers who can appease the fashion hungry amongst us.

Education Requirements

Anyone with a passion for fashion and an eye for what looks good can succeed in the fashion industry.

Some of the most famous names in fashion today possessed no formal education in the industry, including Coco Chanel, Lilly Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Vera Wang and Tommy Hilfiger.

But just because a formal education isn’t required doesn’t mean those interested in a career in fashion should not pursue one. Designing apparel is not cheap and it is not an easy process. Even those who have the best ideas for new product lines often can be overlooked by the industry because they do not have the funding or the knowledge necessary to get noticed.
That is where formal training and education in fashion design comes into play.

A variety of associated degree programs, both online and in traditional settings, are available for fashion design and an average of two years to complete. Basic courses in apparel design, flat pattern designs, sewing techniques, fashion and art design, fashion design using computer/software programs and product management should be offered in any quality program.

Some institutions also offer bachelor degree programs in fashion, which tend to focus on advanced techniques and business management skills. Most four-year programs also will provide students with the opportunity to network with others in the industry, which will provide them with the kinds of valuable connections needed to be successful upon graduation. Lastly, many undergraduate programs will provide students with the opportunity to intern with professionals in the industry in order to gain hands-on experience in the field.

There are a variety of programs available in fashion today; however, students are advised to choose schools that have received accreditation. Among the credible agencies providing accreditation to fashion programs is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Future Outlook

Demand for fashion designers is expected to remain steady over the next decade, according to figures provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While jobs in the high fashion design sector will remain mostly flat, demand is expected to increase for specialized design services. These services include ways to produce clothing lines that are affordable, versatile and intended for everyday usage.

The average annual salary for a fashion designer is $64,530.

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