Are you interested in studying Fashion, Merchandising, Business, or Design? This is CollegeXpress Student Writer Lauryn’s journey to discovering and pursuing her passion. Read about her experience plus her top advice for other students considering a career in the fashion industry.
Since elementary school, I’ve always had a creative mind and a love for clothes and drawing. When I was 12 years old, I remember purchasing my first fashion sketch book from the middle school book fair. It featured templates of clothing you could color and add your own designs to. The book immediately caught my eye and was my first opportunity to put my fashion ideas on paper.
Pursuing a new passion
From that point on, I started sketching outfits as a hobby and created my own collection of drawings and ideas. I would do research on my phone, taking notes on how to make it in the fashion industry. While my portfolio wasn’t perfect or professional in any way, it was a start to pursuing my passion. I became obsessed with fashion and studied each day, filling notebook after notebook with ideas for my future clothing company. When applying to colleges, I knew I wanted to major in something creative that involved business so I could eventually become an entrepreneur and turn my passion into a business of my own. Fashion was the perfect combination of my love for clothes, art, and business, and it was an industry I could see myself working in.
Related: The Business of Majoring in Fashion
Roadblocks along the way
While a career in fashion became my dream, there were some obstacles in my way. Coming from a small city in the Midwest, there weren’t many opportunities in fashion, nor did I know anyone personally in the field. I knew if I wanted to enter the fashion industry, I needed to go beyond my comfort zone. Just as there aren’t many career opportunities, major fashion schools are not located in the Midwest, so I knew I would have to go to college out of state or pay private institution tuition prices. This was a huge challenge knowing that I had to rely solely on financial aid to put me through school along with part-time jobs.
Finding the right school
In searching for the right college, I was able to find one that could provide the best education without paying a huge price. I decided to attend Purdue University in my home state of Indiana to major in Retail Management with a concentration in Apparel Design and Technology. Although Indiana doesn’t seem as close to my dream as it could be, I chose Purdue because of the special Fashion program they offered: juniors have the opportunity to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City as a visiting student! While at FIT, students can study either Fashion Business Management or Fashion Design and earn a one-year associate degree from the School. The program also counts toward a bachelor’s degree at Purdue, which gave me the opportunity to study at one of the best fashion schools in the world while still earning both a bachelor’s and associate degree in four years.
Related: 4 Key Ways to Find Your College Fit
Living in a fashion capital
This year, my junior year, I moved to New York City and began studying at FIT in their Fashion Business Management program, taking classes in fashion marketing, product development, fashion merchandising, merchandising math, and much more. During my time in New York, I took advantage of the vast opportunities in the city and even participated in three internships during my time there. I interned with a lingerie company called Fleur du Mal with the design and production team; with Gigi Burris Millinery, doing operational tasks for a hat company; and with Nautica working in their merchandising department. Each of my internships taught me so much about the fashion industry and pushed me to step outside my comfort zone even further. Participating in this amazing program brought me so many opportunities and put my foot in the door with multiple reputable fashion companies.
Coming home early because of COVID-19
My time in New York was rewarding, but unfortunately it was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a huge effect on colleges across the country, including FIT. The campus closed as many campuses have, and I moved back home to Indiana early. Thankfully, I was able to finish five weeks of my internship at Nautica before coming home. I had been juggling my internship with Gigi Burris at the same time, but even with the unforeseen circumstances, I still had two great semesters with her and gained valuable experience from her company. Now all my classes have moved online, which hasn’t been very difficult considering they’re all business oriented and don’t require many physical projects. Although I miss the city, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to study there, and I can’t wait to go back and visit!
After graduation, I hope to work in merchandising for a fashion brand in order to gain more experience and expertise. My end goal is to establish a company of my own, designing and selling my own clothing around the world. I’ve taken various courses in fashion design and fashion business that’ll help prepare me for a career in the industry and creating my own business. I’m passionate about becoming my own boss and being a female business owner. As I take more classes and learn more about the industry each year, I feel more prepared and confident to begin a career in this field.
Advice for others considering a Fashion major
For anyone else considering a major in Fashion, my advice is to make a plan. Most importantly, do your research on different careers in fashion and determine if they align with your passions. Next, consider your circumstances as well as your opportunities. While affordability is important, make sure you think about any scholarships or work-study programs you could take advantage of to expand your opportunities. It’s important to research any possible schools you’re interested in and what types of Fashion majors they offer, as well as their resources for students. The in-class education is just one aspect of fashion learning; making sure you’re building connections within the industry and participating in programs that will aid in your development are just as important.
All the opportunities I’ve encountered thus far have been a result of being involved in multiple programs and activities involving fashion, not just taking fashion courses. While the industry is very competitive and requires a lot of dedication, as long as you’re mindful and open to new experiences, you can gain the most from your major and be more prepared for a career after college.
Interested in studying Fashion like Lauryn? Check out our list of Colleges With Excellent Programs in Fashion Design, and find more schools with Fashion-related majors using our College Search tool!