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Fashion Careers and Education Article
By: Liz Smith  Editor-in-Chief

The fashion design industry has become increasingly popular in recent years and there are many people interested in getting their foot in the door.  Although everyone has heard stories about famous designers, like Tommy Hilfiger, who just took their designs and ran with them, it isn't that easy for the typical person.  Hilfiger may be able to drive up to New York, buy what he considers trendy clothes, and sell them for a profit in his rural hometown, but most people are not born with that combination of fashion sense and business knowledge, which is where an education comes into play.

With interest in the fashion industry continuing to increase, so is the competition; but so are the opportunities.  Now it's becoming increasingly simple to earn a degree in fields like fashion design, fashion marketing, or fashion merchandising.  Each industry focuses on a different aspect of the fashion world, but they overlap in many ways, one of which is the need for an educated staff.  The intricacies of the fashion world are both numerous and precise, and the only sure way to gain the upper hand in this competitive marketplace is by earning the appropriate fashion degree

If you know which specific field you want to enter, you will likely be able to find a degree program tailored to that particular career.  What could be better than hands-on training and explicit experience in the exact field that you are about to enter?  As mentioned previously, the main career opportunities in fashion include fashion design, marketing, and merchandising, and the differences between them are detailed below: 

Fashion designers are the artists of the industry, the creative individuals with an eye for color, texture and line, and an innovative sense of style.  But there is so much more that goes into creating a fashion masterpiece than most people realize. Fashion design begins with the designer's vision that is brought to paper and worked through multiple drafts. Once a final sketch is made the designer must consider the different materials and textures available and anticipate how the piece will fall on a three-dimensional body. After the material has been selected, the pattern is cut from the cloth and sewn together. Finally, after many incarnations and considerations the designer's vision has been brought to life.

Fashion marketing combines the elements of advertising, design and business administration, as well as a solid understanding of the fashion world, in order to take a new clothing line and get it the attention it needs to be successful.  In general, fashion marketers have a good sense of popular culture and on what will be stylish in the future. In a sense, they are the visionaries of the field who not only recognize what will be successful and which consumer group will be the most interested, but know how to market the clothes to these target groups.   Most fashion marketing is behind-the-scenes: keeping abreast of fashion trends and consumer buying habits; putting together advertising campaigns that target specific consumer groups and appeal to their tastes; being mindful of the broader picture of the fashion world and what new style innovations are being introduced into the field. Fashion marketers are the savvy idea people, the connectors between the designers and their public.

Fashion Marketing and Fashion Merchandising go hand-in-hand. Fashion merchandisers must, like marketers, be able to predict styles and trends and evaluate the needs of a target market. However, whereas the fashion marketer identifies such needs in order to build more successful advertising campaigns to attract consumers, the fashion merchandiser is responsible for actually buying the clothes and presenting them in the stores.  Fashion merchandisers must also be very creative and forward thinking.  One of the main jobs of a fashion merchandiser is shaping the mood of a store or runway with lighting and displays to aid and encourage consumers with their purchase. Fashion merchandising is the    hands-on job of selecting which designer lines and clothes will be featured and determining how these are best presented.

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If these careers appeal to you, then you should consider earning a degree in the fashion industry.  Fashion is one of the few career options that combines artistic ability with business savvy you need both for success.  With a degree you'll be more marketable, earn, on average, a higher salary, and you'll already have the industry skills that will help you get ahead. 

This is true for almost all industries, and artistic ones in particular.  If fashion isn't your passion, then perhaps cooking schools, interior design schools and colleges, or art colleges would be more your style.  Whatever your interests, there's a vast array of possibilities for you to choose from.  Whether you're looking for online universities or a guide to local trade schools for a career in anything from fashion to finance, then make sure to do your research and find the program that best suits your needs.  It's a common misconception that the most successful artists are self-taught nobody mentions the unsuccessful chefs, painters, and designers.  Secure your career with a great education and a degree to prove it.

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