Education & Internships vs Taking the Plunge - the Fashion Spot
 
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28-07-2010
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Education & Internships vs Taking the Plunge
I've been divided about this for a while, and am looking for input.

I am thinking of taking an MFA in Fashion (I have a BA in Geography and Art History), which will take me 5 years to complete, and cost me around $50,000. I want to be a fashion designer, ultimately with my own label. I often wonder if it would be better for me to just take the plunge, design collections, get them made and market myself at fashion weeks, or if I should take the safe, slow route of education, internships, working for other companies and then finally launching my own line.

I realize that both routes are expensive and time-consuming, but I'm wondering if it's worth the 5 years for an MFA if I can use that $50,000 toward starting up my own line and working as hard as I can to make it successful and well-known.

Obviously the chance of huge success is minimal, but I wonder if the chance of succeeding with my own line is any greater if I would've obtained an MFA and worked within fashion companies?

What would you do?

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28-07-2010
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I understand your reasons for being uncertain - could you speak to someone who's taken the MFA route and see how they feel it benefited them? I'd be inclined to take the internship route as I suspect experience and passion in such a field as fashion would be worth more than theory alone; but now that I think on it I'm wondering too if part of completing the MFA would be designing a graduation collection? I recall hearing of at least a couple of well-known young designers whose careers took off after producing their first collections as part of graduating fashion schools (probably CSM)!

Out of interest, where would you study?

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28-07-2010
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Do you have any serious experience with the skills needed to be a fashion designer?.. Concepts, designing, pattern making, sewing, finishing, fabrics, draping, other materials, prints to name a few technical, not to mention the business side of it all.

Do you have any connections in the fashion industry? Which you certainly need if you want to market yourself at fashion weeks, let alone if you want a collection getting made and picked up at a certain point.

I'd serious think about how realistic it is to just start with no training or experience. Getting your own label off the ground is terribly hard for people with years of experience and training (and probably a lot more money than $50,000)... because too be honest it sounds like suicide to me if you don't have any or much experience. Fashion design is always a bit glamorized by people, but it's hardly any of that, it means nights and nights of work, spending tons of money on something where you not even sure off it'll pay off, tight deadlines, not to mention it can pretty much kill your social life..

Of course I don't want to scare you, but if you don't have much first hand insight in the actual industry you might be seriously underestimating on how hard it is. This is something you will learn if you go through with the education, the internships, working for other companies/designers..

Another good thing about doing an education is that it can take away the doubts about being a designer. I'm not going to question your passion or your motivation to become a designer, but a fashion course knows a ton of dropouts through all the years of education. It can be a real eyeopener for some people who thought they wanted to become a designer but finally realized they didn't really like it as much or aren't cut out for it.

I say go for the education, any sort off education where you learn the basics and all the techniques. Even if you end up having all your designs made by a seamstress and pattern maker, I still think you need to know all of that yourself to be a good designer. Otherwise you won't know the possibilities and limitations of what can be done. And don't forget that an education can get you connections, it often offers possibilities to compete in contests and has their network of people... and I wonder if you start on your own.. you might loose a lot more money than $50,000 without gaining much success yet, money you could've spend on the education.


I hope I don't come across too negative about the idea of starting on your own.. just giving my two cents on how I see it as a fashion student myself


Last edited by ChristianThomas; 28-07-2010 at 10:12 AM.
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28-07-2010
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FrankieP: AAU San Francisco is where I will study.
ChristianThomas: Thank you very much, you gave some very good insight. I don't see it as negative at all - it's very realistic. You raise some very good points, and I am leaning more towards education, to be honest. Where I live it's very difficult to get contacts in fashion, as there is not much of a fashion scene. I do have quite a few local contacts because I used to model for magazines, but in a small country like this (Malta), I have no future as a fashion designer, so would need to go abroad. I don't honestly see myself getting work in fashion abroad without a degree. Thanks again for your comment, I appreciate it a lot.

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05-08-2010
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Really interesting to read Christian's post; whichever way you choose Bubina I hope you really love it and do well. There's no industry more dynamic and vibrant to be getting into, and no matter where you end up it certainly won't be dull!


Last edited by FrankieP; 05-08-2010 at 05:21 AM.
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05-08-2010
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Thank you very much, FrankieP!

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13-10-2010
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Take the school route. Trust me. Trying to get noticed as an amateur is difficult and frustrating to say the least. The friendships and contacts you make in school are invaluable.

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