Fashion Design 101: Skills Fashion Schools Don’t Teach

In fashion school, you learned illustrations, draping, sewing, and flat patternmaking. These are good abilities, but they won’t help you land a fashion job. Real-world designers must prepare digital flat designs, garment specs, CADs, and presentation boards. “But I learned that in school,” you could say. You believe you know, but you don’t. Fashion colleges don’t focus sufficiently on these talents to prepare you for your first design job. This article discusses each fashion talent.

Low-Importance Draping and Patternmaking

Patternmaking and draping are valuable talents, but they’re only useful for fittings. If you started into fashion for artistic reasons, you’ll be miserable in this role. On the creative side of design, all you need is a fundamental awareness of good fit and bad fit. Unless you want to be on Project Runway, most design jobs don’t require patternmaking abilities.

Low-Priority Sewing

Sewing isn’t important for design creativity. Yes, you should understand garment construction, but you don’t need to be a pro. On the job, if you need to know how a garment is made, there are loads of references: store garments, “how to” books, and online publications. Don’t worry if your sewing skills are lacking.

Unneeded Illustration

Fashion illustrations are a disappearing art; designers rarely utilise them. Computer-drawn stylised technical sketches (floats) or more realistic technical flats are speedier and more practical than fashion illustrations. They show design concept clearly and are essential for production. Flats can be transformed into CADs and mood/presentation boards. Fashion schools haven’t caught up and still emphasise illustrations over flat sketching.

Must-Know Software

I can’t stress enough the significance of learning float, flat, and CAD software. Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel are reasonably inexpensive compared to industry-specific software. Fashion schools’ coverage of Illustrator and Photoshop doesn’t satisfy industry needs. If your college provides a WebPDM course, you should take it. Find a school or venue that teaches this curriculum and enrol.

Must-Know Flat Sketching

We’ve seen applicants’ portfolios full of stunning illustrations and then asked, “Can you flat sketch?” If they have flats, they’re usually simplistic, lack features, and aren’t visually appealing. If candidates’ illustrations are decent, I ask if they know Illustrator and Photoshop. Everyone says yes, but it’s rarely true. For more information visit greetingsus.

Many fashion school graduates think they know these programmes well, but what they learned in school isn’t adequate. Fashion schools don’t teach these abilities well enough for entry-level designers to be competent. Schools teach basic skills that are easily lost. Read books and take courses to learn Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and other programmes beyond what schools teach (offered in either classroom or online settings).

Copycat Industry Specs – Must Know

Knowing how to “spec” (measure and detail) a garment is a vital skill. Excel is popular for creating spec sheets. If you grasp the concepts, you can swiftly adapt to any company’s standards for clothing sizes and measurements. You don’t even need to write specs.

As a chief designer, I went to stores, located well-fitting clothing, and reproduced the measurements. Most clothing in stores are copycats of another company’s designs. A London salesperson recognized I was a fashion designer collecting style ideas. His store gets a continual flow of American design companies like Calvin Klein knocking off their items. Even renowned designer brands employ knockoffs for ready-to-wear. Official terminology exists for copying styles and patterns: “knockoff” and “rub-off.”


Many fashion schools, like FIT in New York, offer seminars like “flats and specs for the fashion business,” but they’re not necessary. “Creative fashion presentation” is another helpful lesson. Visual aids are popular among salespeople. In addition, they show creativity. If you make great presentations, you’ll be assigned them often, and it’s more fun than doing fittings, sending faxes, and organizing showrooms.

To secure a job before other entry-level fashion designers, focus on industry-required talents. Include flats in your portfolio and Master Illustrator and Photoshop. You’ll have the abilities to succeed in fashion, and demonstrating how you kept up with industry norms will impress employers.

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