My name is Victoria Barlow and I recently graduated from Georgia Southern majored in Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design with an emphasis in design and a minor in Business. Some of my favorite designers and labels include Versace, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino. My long term goal is to become a a well known designer and eventually build a fashion in Paris, France.
I recently graduated from Georgia Southern University with a bachelors in Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design (Emphasis: Design) and a minor in Business. Throughout the years of being a college student I have matured and learned lessons both the easy and the hard way. Some of these would have been completely avoided had a list like this been provided to me the summer before my freshman year. It is my hope that these five pieces of advice help you on your college journey as it is better to go with a few tips than none at all.
Tip #1: Know What You’re Getting Into
Yes, we all know that breaking into the fashion industry is difficult. It comes complete with sleepless nights, a “ramen noodles every night type budget”, and frequent “What if-“scenarios running through your mind. But what about college, what are the questions you need to ask yourself when applying to different schools? Well here are the questions I would suggest you ask:
• What schools are available?
• What is the tuition like?
• Does the school pour resources into their fashion program or is the program just a few sewing machines, 2 irons, and one really stressed out teacher?
• What are the requirements for graduation (such as is there an internship)?
• If there is an internship will you be able to intern at a place close to home or should you be saving up money now to move to New York or L.A.?
Tip #2: Make Friends Make Fashion Friends
Now don’t take this the wrong way. I’m all for making tons of friends from different majors. Expand your horizons! But make sure you have at least one person that is in your major who you can talk to about stressful projects and deadlines. Being a fashion student is hard enough and one of the most common things I have seen make it worse is telling a friend about a project and them looking at me like they have no idea what I’m talking about. Having a fellow peer to talk, rant, and laugh with will make all the difference in the world. And should you forget your pattern paper at home they are normally more than willing to share some with you in that dreaded pattern making class!
Tip #3: Dress the part
One of the things that I saw the most of in school was sweatpants. SWEATPANTS EVERYWHERE! Take the time to actually get dressed before classes. Yes, it takes more time and effort but you will feel more confident and getting compliments before or after that 8AM Monday morning class will make getting up a little bit easier. If that’s not enough think of college as the place where you can experiment and discover what your signature style will be, with little to no dress code it is perfect for finding what flatters your body and what you like. Also, should someone ask what your major is and you reply,” fashion” hearing them say “Oh wow! I can totally see that!” rather than, “Oh…Really??” will make you feel as if you have done your fashion duty for the day.
Tip #4: Organizations, Groups, Club s, etc.
Joining fashion organizations was probably the best and worst decisions I made during my life as a college student. Through experimenting with different organizations I was exposed to many different parts of the fashion industry and at the end discovered that what I loved most was designing. So I say “Hooray organizations! Join one!” On the other hand I found that at a certain point (sometime around the end of junior year and the beginning of senior year) that some of the organizations I was in were not helping me grow and I had to face the tough decision of staying or leaving. I could stay and be bored, somewhat miserable while spending 40$ a year on dues and say,” Hey! I stuck it out!” and learn nothing. The other option was to leave be called a quitter, arrogant, etc. and take my 40$ and learn something that could help me become a better designer. After struggling with this for a while my boyfriend asked me,” Can you do more with the money you give them (for dues) than they allow you to do?” If the answer is yes then LEAVE! Take your money and improve. Trust me; it’s much better than staying.
Tip #5: Do your research
College is meant to be a place where you discover what you like, from types of people to types of hobbies this, is where you find yourself. While it’s perfectly fine to discover what you want to do in your fashion career in school, it is much more beneficial to know before you start. It is extremely important to know that there are fields in fashion other than merchandising and design such as trend forecasting, blogging, and magazine editing. Knowing what you want to do beforehand also makes it much easier when picking classes; you can tailor your education to give you exactly what you need so that when you get into the real world you thrive.