What Does It Take to be a Fashion Student?

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My entire life I always loved clothes.  When I was 5 years old I begged my mom to let me pick my own clothes for kindergarten when we went back to school shopping.  Every time somebody asked me what I wanted to do when I was older I would bounce between things like being a cheerleader, being a princess, or fashion design.  Every time I chose a new career path I would always end up going back to fashion.  I drew outfits constantly and always thought about what it would be like to design a successful line.  I wanted to become a brand that everyone loved.

While I was obsessed with fashion, I was equally obsessed with business.  I always came up with new business ideas, new ways to make money, and new ways to get my name out there.  I never acted upon most of the ideas because I had so many.  I remember starting a lemonade stand on my street and saw that my friend was selling hers for 10 cents a cup.  I competitively priced mine at 5 cents and made sure my display looked nicer and that my lemonade was of a better quality.  I was so excited to make a few dollars and it was addicting to feel success.

When I was 16 I ended up coming up with this amazing business plan.  As often as I fell in love with boys, I always used heartbreak to my advantage.  I “fell in love” with this boy from my hometown that I hadn’t lived in for a few years and of course when I moved back home things fell through.  Around the same time things fell through I came up with this amazing business plan, which I wanted to name after him to win him back.  Five years later I have held on to this business plan and his name will have nothing to do with it, but it was one of the first times that I realized I do not need to stick to societal stereotypes to be who I am and get what I want.

Now I am a rising senior in a Fashion Merchandising program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  I chose my major because I plan on executing my business plan, which is of course a retail store.  I would tell you more about it, but several ideas I have for it have never been done before.  Eventually the world will see what I have planned.  Although the business plan isn’t really the point right now.

When describing my major to most, they say something like “Show me your designs!” and I try not to scream back that fashion design is only a small part of the industry.  I like to explain it as the business side of fashion, or literally everything in fashion that isn’t design.  You can follow this career path to be a buyer, stylist, journalist, and so much more.  If you look more into it you realize that there are so many paths to take.

One of the other stereotypes is how competitive and cutthroat this industry is.  I have experienced two different universities with this major.  At Philadelphia University it was a bit more cutthroat than IUP.  If I had gone to New York City for school I imagine I would be even more overwhelmed with how competitive it is.  Yet in my experience you will find people that shares your interests and do not judge you because you are not like them.  You will find that there are the girls that dress up for class every single day, the girls that judge everyone as they walk in the room, the girls that are more artsy and daydream during class, the girls that are all about comfort, and everyone in between.  You also do find straight men in your classes, but it is a female dominated major.

Some professors have worked at glamorous companies, I had one who was a floor manager for the men’s floor at Bergdorf Goodman’s.  Some professors may have never set foot in a fashion building, but teach subjects that are adjacent to the curriculum.  They all have a wealth of information to share with you and you never know what you will be able to apply in your future job. They are also the people that you should be working with, because one day they may be able to help you get an internship or even a job once you graduate.

While I do not have full experience in the industry besides working as a sales associate in the mall, I do feel like there are some things you need to do to be prepared.  It isn’t exactly required to get an internship depending on where you go to school, but if you do not get one with this major you will find it to be much more difficult to get your dream job.  It also really helps if you do study abroad.  That is one opportunity I missed out on.  I have noticed that people who have studied abroad find it much easier to get an internship, especially if they aren’t studying at a school in New York City.

The other important thing I must say is if you do not enjoy these classes the major may not be for you.  Most everyone who is in this major shows up to their fashion related classes every day and pays attention to the professor.  I am a bit more eager than most in my classes because I love it so much, and I tend to go above and beyond for most projects.  I find that most of my peers do this as well, and the people who end up not going to class do not do well.  It is one thing to not enjoy your English class, but if you don’t enjoy your fashion class you will most likely not enjoy the career that follows.

Lastly, you must not give up.  Do not think you can’t do this because you are not the stereotype.  Do not think that because someone can afford better clothes than you that you aren’t cut out for this.  Do not believe the judgement coming from some others.  Do make sure to join your major related clubs, or start one if your school doesn’t have one.  Do make sure to voice your opinion when necessary and feel free to start a discussion based on your beliefs related to fashion.  Do realize that you are the future and you will have the ability to shape the industry.  Listen to your peers and use that feedback to better yourself, better your career, and better society.  Make sure that you follow your dreams and don’t let anyone hold you back.

– Claire

 
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4 thoughts on “What Does It Take to be a Fashion Student?

  1. Great advice for so many aspiring to get it to the fashion business. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

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