by Robert Woods
At the forefront of technology, the USA is the leader in educating fashion designers and business leaders in this exciting industry. Here you can learn it all, from adapting a 16th century gown for a 21st century film, to computerized stitching techniques, to promoting a new line of apparel.
While Paris may be the capital of the couture market, the USA is the center of the ready-to-wear market and New York City is the fashion capital of the world. All the resources are here: the stores, the top designers, textile firms, fashion magazines and more! All major designers—whether they come from France, Italy, Japan or Spain—have a presence in New York.
The USA is a country that embraces change, and fashion is ever changing. For a fashion student, it doesn’t get any better.
Streets, not Textbooks
Fashion is something that you learn. You are not born with good taste. At Berkeley College, we do not rely solely on textbooks. Textbooks become outdated quickly, but fashion changes every season. When we discuss window design - visual merchandising - we just walk down the street and look at the windows in Saks Fifth Avenue or Macy's.
What should you look for when choosing a fashion marketing and management program?
1. Is the program designed with significant input from industry insiders?
2. Does the program offer business courses as well as fashion courses? It is important to remember that fashion is a big business and that students must be able to understand the business world too. At Berkeley, we emphasize Fashion Marketing and Management, as well as design. This prepares the student to "hit the ground running" in the fashion industry.
3. Here are some of the technical courses that students should look for in a program:
• Product Lifecycle Planning – What are the stages a product goes through – from concept and development, to marketing and sales?
• Advanced Textiles – What types of innovations are impacting the development of fabrics and their various uses in garments?
• Global Sources - Where do buttons come from? What country produces the best silk?
• Technology courses - A great deal of fashion is on the Internet. It's not just in stores any more.
• CAD - Computer Aided Design programs.
• JDA – Supply Chain Management software to sort and allocate store merchandise for the retail industry.
4. Most importantly, does the program offer an internship? Work experience is essential to your fashion career.
Where Does It Lead?
Most students ask, “What kind of job will this type of program prepare me for?” When you consider fashion as a business and are not just dealing with design, you become more flexible and open to a number of positions. There are too many relevant careers to list, but here are a few that will be available to you:
• Merchandising positions in buying offices (buying offices usually purchase for a variety of stores).
• Product Development Specialist (dealing with the birth of the product all the way to the consumer).
• Executive trainee positions with fashion retailers.
What it takes
What qualities do students need to be successful in the fashion industry? Creativity, ambition, flexibility and knowledge.
The USA, with its wonderful distinctive mix of people from all over the world, is the true destination of people who have a passion for fashion. This adds an exciting dimension to all of our programs, but none more than Fashion, where cultural diversity can give rise to unique perspectives on fashion trends and the future of the industry.
Robert Woods is a faculty member in the Fashion Department at Berkeley College's Campus in New York City