What courses? Fashion; fashion design; fashion studies; textiles; clothing engineering; contour fashion; fashion accessories; fashion communications; fashion design management; fashion design promotion; fashion textile tailoring; fashion design technology; fashion embroidery; fashion imaging. The list is (almost) endless.
What do you come out with? A BA
Why do it? "The fashion industry is notoriously fast paced and demanding. The products and deadlines behind the glamorous facade require dedicated professionals with knowledge and understanding of key trends and products who are able to respond to economic trends and upheavals. Fashion is a global industry that is exciting and motivating, encompassing design, trends, manufacturing, marketing, retail - from luxury products to high street throw-aways. Fashion industry personalities are diverse and creative; equipped with technical skills, product knowledge and commercial acumen. Fashion requires a sound business judgement and a proven ability to deliver on time, to the buyers and customers specifications & expectations." - Vanessa Northway, academic head and senior teaching fellow, school of textiles and design, Heriot-Watt University
What’s it all about? Shoes, hats, dresses, suits, scarves, bags, shirts, trousers... Anything that you pick up on the high street has been on a magnificent journey to get from the spark of inspiration in a designer’s head to its final home in your wardrobe. For every process that goes on during this journey, there is a degree to teach you to perfect it – from hugely popular design courses for budding Alexander McQueens to marketing and management courses for those that fancy giving Sir Philip Green a run for his money. Not everyone sees their products gracing the catwalk on London fashion week, but whether you end up working for Primark or a Parisian couturier, you have to start somewhere and there are more than 320 degree courses in fashion in the UK. Design courses are understandably more practical than others, with a focus on building your portfolio and preparing for the final degree show, which usually accounts for a high proportion of marks. Retail and management courses tend to focus on the fundamentals of the areas at large, before gearing them specifically towards fashion, and written coursework forms a larger part of assessment.
Study options: Three years at most universities, although many are offered as sandwich courses, in which you work within the industry between the second and third year. Fashion is an industry run by interns, so this year in industry can be an excellent opportunity to get stuck in and boost your CV, whether it’s at Burberry or BHS.
What will I need to do it? Most people take a foundation course in art and design, textiles or fashion, which provides a clear route into fashion at undergrad level. It is possible to get in straight from A-levels but you need a tip top portfolio and bags of confidence. A-level art or textiles is a must for design courses. Entry grades vary widely, but it’s really all about your passion for fashion.
What are my job prospects? Well it depends on your area of expertise. Like artists, fashion designers either hit the big time in a blaze of glory early on or struggle along for a few years working incredibly hard before gaining recognition or sinking into obscurity. More business-minded fashionistas could find themselves in the myriad of positions in the multi-million pound industry, whether it’s in buying, retail or distribution. If we look at fashion in terms of an art and design subject, according to The Times' Good University Guide 2012, 38 per cent of art and design students end up in graduate-level jobs, with a modest average salary of just over £17,000. Business and management students fare better, with an average graduate salary of around £21,000.
Where’s best to do it? Fashion is assessed as part of art and design in the Complete University Guide, in which Edinburgh came top overall for 2012. Kent, Heriot-Watt and Leeds were other highly-ranked universities for art and design that offer fashion courses. Students at Lincoln and Falmouth were most satisfied with their courses.