Do I Need A Fashion Degree to Start a Fashion Brand?

Do I Need A Fashion Degree to Start a Fashion Brand?

Published On: January 13, 2023

We are big fans of higher education. An education can jump start creative thoughts and ideas, improve your resume, and build a strong network of like-minded people; the advantages to education are real and the purpose of this discussion is NOT to discount them.

That said, higher education often comes with an even higher price tag that isn’t feasible for everyone. This is an unfortunate fact, and with the economy being what it is, a fashion degree could look unlikely for you.

If you find yourself unable to shoulder the burden of tuition, or your life doesn’t allow you the luxury of going to school right now, don’t give up your dream of breaking into the business or building your own brand. It is possible to do so without that revered piece of paper called a diploma! In fact, almost 40% of all working designers do NOT have a formal degree in fashion.

There’s Lots of FREE Knowledge out There. Absorb it!

Thanks to the internet, getting a free education is easier than ever before in history. With a simple google search, you will find many articles and websites that are totally free and will provide you with a wealth of information. Including things that you might otherwise pay tuition to learn!

You can learn about any aspect of the fashion industry that interests you. The myriad of subjects range from pattern making and technical design to fabric selection and merchandising a collection. In fact, there are way too many links for us to share them all with you here. Just do a search for yourself, and you’ll see. (We also suggest you do a deep dive into our website,, you’re gonna love it!)

There’s also the knowledge you can create for yourself. Wait, what?! Yes, this is true and it’s the path many fashion industry professionals have taken to get where they are. Become a “student of fashion.” Not in the go-to-school kind of way, but in the life-long learner kind of way.

We are sure there are brands and designers out there that you admire. Learn their history, their inspiration, and intently study their work. How they got to where they are today may seem mysterious to you, but we promise, if you look closely you’ll see there is no big mystery about it.

Of course, for any of this to work, you must be deliberate about it. Put aside a specific time every day to learn something new about our wonderful industry. Just like you were going to school for it. Because, guess what? You are.

Practice Your Craft.

The next step is to take some of that free knowledge and start putting it into practice. It doesn’t matter one bit if you are perfect at it or not. Just start doing it!

For example, you could try your hand at sketching a garment. Then once you have your sketch where you want it, start imagining the fabrics. Even if you can’t afford the best, buy something that is close to your ideal. At this point, it doesn’t matter!

Get yourself in front of a sewing machine. Borrow one if you have to, or find a quality used machine on Craigslist. Again, it doesn’t need to be perfect; just workable. And start sewing.

Do this over and over again. Design more, sew more. The goal here is not to turn you into a seamstress (unless that is your choice), but to get you comfortable with designing and creating your own work. This is how you learn, by doing!

If your goal is to become a pattern maker, YouTube will be your best friend. There are many free videos that will teach you the basics and intermediate skills. Again, practice makes perfect!

Find a Work/Learn Situation.

There are quite a few places you can learn about fashion and the business of fashion. Many successful business owners started their journey by “learning on the job.” It’s definitely a viable way to learn about the industry, and spread your creative wings.

You don’t have to work for another designer (although if you do find a job like that, jump on it)! Many other opportunities abound. You could work for a boutique, a fabric vendor, or even AT a fashion school in an administrative capacity. Be creative in your search and be willing to start on the ground floor. Look at it this way, someone will be paying YOU to get an education, instead of you paying a school. Win-win, right?

Don’t hide your dream under a bushel. Share your passion with others. There may be someone in your network of family and friends that has a lead on a fashion industry job. Keep your mind open, because it might not be where you expect. Maybe your Aunt’s friend owns a fabric store? Your neighbor’s daughter owns a boutique? Use social media to your career advantage. The more you let people know you are looking, the more likely you are to find something!

The Key is Passion.

We are going to let you in on a little secret here. The fashion industry is not as hard to break into as it appears from the outside looking in. When you look at it in the pages of a magazine, or on tv, or in social media, it looks like a very elite world open to a select few.

Well, that’s simply not true. And a “formal” education is not always the key to opening the door.

The fashion industry opens its doors to passion, lots and lots of it! If you’re passionate about the industry – be it the creative side, the technical side or even the retail side – you’ve got fifty percent of what you need.

The other fifty percent is knowledge. And you now know exactly how to acquire that!

We’d love to hear more about your fashion dreams. Feel free to reach out to us at or call us at 800-916-0910.

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