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Is it worth it to go to School for Fashion Design, or can you be successful, without formal education?

Hi all,

I've been considering, how much is the Fashion Design degree really worth? If I go to school and spend all that money, then I will have background knowledge, but can just as easily be using those four years to build my own company without formal education. I am aware that schooling does help with connections, and networks you would probably not else encounter. My question is for the current and past Fashion Design students, what school did you attend? Also, was it worth it, in your opinion? 

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 you can be successful with out formal education but I suggest school or working under someone  or LOTS OF MONEY  I have been doing it for 20 years without a piece of paper and I am now in school i am hard ti teach ... although my clothes have been in Nordstrom , Pat Fields ect knowing the business from formal training would have helped m not make so many mistakes 

lol I thank you for replying. I think schooling is right for me. 

I thank you for initiating this great topic of discussion

Most of the time what matters most is our passion for the field- schooling or not. Passion is the salt. Minus it from the most expertly made pizza and it looses all the taste-no matter what good stuffing and toppings it has. Now once you are passionate enough -you concentrate on the stuffing. One that comes from careful training in fashion schools where they make you go thru some pre programmed situations-designed to emulate real life experiences. You get a hang of it -how it feels to get rubbed the wrong way. But they are not teach-all programmes- as life's real time situations are almost always as unique as your apparel designs itself. While surfing you cannot face the same wave twice. But your experience teaches you how to handle different types of waves. That’s what they teach you back in school.

The other way of stuffing n topping your pizza is to learn from mistakes. It's the hard way and only the very persistent can survive it. Turning clogs of failure into chunks of experience takes lots of sweat, blood and sweet patience.

So if one thinks school education is too formal and they don't have the stomach for it, then they should have strong teeth and claws to cling on to and climb the slippery way up to success-the hard way. Both ways have fair chances of winning as long as the passion for climbing keeps burning within.

Thank you for your detailed and well thought out reply. I have a true passion and talent for it. Most importantly, I work at the skill everyday. I think the formal schooling will help my designs really pop once I know more about the apparel industry, different textiles and styles. Thanks 

Quick 2 cents... I am a fashion buyer and when I am looking at a new line the formal education plays some weight. You can tell the finish by the education. Don't expect to recover your money right off the bat though. Like another member said, if you don't go to school make sure that you apprentice under some serious talent.

if you have excellent basic knowledge and are willing to be self taught..then there is a possibility.

it is dependant upon what type of company would you be starting up.

fashion is a tough business, and connections help..up to a point...its not exactly a businesss based upon charity.

it's genuine talent which carries you.

you can know every buyer in the majors..but if what you have isn't right..they will not buy.

you have to have a sixth sense about what is coming a year from now. no amount of education can teach you that.

you either have a good 'eye' or can be honed and trained,but the basic taste level has to be there.

also most designers starting out, design for themselves, in the sense it's their vision...which is fantastically creative..but keep you eye also on the big question..will it sell.

bottom's called moving the merchandise.

if you are willing to intern and learn..that is an alternative..almost like an apprenticeship...step carefully with this..i have seen too many interns, sadly ,be reduced to making the starbucks run.

Hey Guys!

I saw this post and loved all the great comments. My company, the Style Institute ( is hosting a 2 part webinar series about being a personal stylist. Not sure if that is the direction the direction any of you are heading, but its going to be fun and informative. What we do slightly differently than a lot of the formal schools is that we teach you not just the basics and advanced info you need to be a personal stylist, but a lot of the training is about starting your own business as a stylist. How to avoid first timer mistakes, etc. Students who have completed courses through the Style Institute have turned around and made their investment back within 1 or two months because they learn the practical application of the info they get.

Here is the info for it:

Notable Stylist Mentor Teresa Morisco will be leading it and answering questions. And we are having a really fun styling contest where you create a look for a client based on a specific client profile.

Msg me if you have any questions. Otherwise, we'd love to see you on the call!


Education will teach you success, basic things in design should be learned.

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