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Education, Skills & Training

Fashion Degree Vs. Certificate?

Q: How would a degree in fashion design be more beneficial to my career than a certificate? What is the essential difference between the two besides a degree taking longer and being more expensive? Is one more desirable to employers?

Susan Langdon says:
The big difference between a fashion degree and a diploma or certificate is the accreditation you gain by having those letters follow your name, whether it’s a BA, BAA, MA etc. Here are some advantages of having a fashion degree:

• Yes, it’s desirable to employers because it denotes you’ve completed a higher education. Fashion is a highly competitive field so any advantage is a good thing.
• If you ever decide to change fields, you can use some of the university credits earned through your degree towards another field of study. I think there’s a 7 or 8 year time limit on this however.
• If you decide that you want to teach fashion one day, a fashion degree is a necessity these days.

Good luck with your studies!

Legal advice regarding developing sewing curriculum

Q: I'm in the process of developing sewing and drafting lessons to teach at a local community centre. I would like to know if there are any legal or specific processes that I need to take/go through before implementing it.

Susan Langdon says:
If the course is merely for interest and if students completing the course are not receiving any type of certification or grade that can be used as a high school or college/university credit, then likely all you need to do is get the community centre to sign off on (approve in writing) your course outline. However it’s best to check with your province’s (or state’s) Ministry of Education to be sure you’re 100% compliant.

Accredited Fashion Design Course

Q: Hi I am an experienced seamstress and right now I'm staying home with my kids. I'm planning to take a fashion designer course at RCC Institute of Technology. Do you think it’s a good school?

Susan Langdon says:
You need to do some research and find out where Canada’s top designers studied. To my knowledge, all of Toronto’s best fashion designers went to Ryerson, Seneca, George Brown, the Academy of Design or they studied in New York or London, UK. I can’t think of anyone who went to RCC.

It's never too late to learn

Q: I'm 42 and I'm an experienced seamstress. I'm planning to take a fashion design course to excel my skill. Do you think it’s not to late for me to do it?

Susan Langdon says:
It’s never to start to learn, improve and to become better and better. A good fashion design course should be able to give you some perspective on the principles of fashion design, communicating through illustrations, pattern drafting, appropriate fabric choice etc. Plus, if you attend a credible school, you can tell your clients that you studied at that school.

Fashion Merchandising Career

Q: My daughter wants to spend $28000.00 taking a 2 year course in Fashion Merchandising. I fear the job she will be eligible for will sentence her to a life of near poverty. Who specifically hires these graduates, where are the jobs and what do they earn?

Susan Langdon says:
Fashion merchandising grads are usually hired by large retailers or very
large manufacturers in urban centres such as Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
Generally most positions in fashion are not high paying jobs. People pursue
careers in this field because they love fashion and wouldn't be happy doing
anything else. Very likely, your daughter will be earning minimum wage to
start, until she can prove her abilities and worth to an employer. After
five years in the business, she could be earning $50,000 and if she advances
to the position of Director or VP she could be earning $100,000+ but this
could take 10 years or more as there is fierce competition in the fashion
industry and few positions at that level. Check to see if the school
requires work-study or internship placement hours where your daughter can
gain hands-on experience in the field. This is a great way for her to find
out if she really wants to pursue fashion merchandising or not.

Have you heard about the Polimoda or AI fashion schools?

Q: I'm deciding on schools for fashion marketing & merchandising for September of 2009. Polimoda in Milan, Italy, offers a 9 month masters program in fashion marketing & merchandising with an internship. This school seems to be renowned in Europe . If I were to complete the program at Polimoda will it be recognized in Canada when I come back here to get a job?

I will also be applying to the AI in Vancouver (which has schools all over North America), Parsons in NYC and the London College of Fashion ( UK ). Have you heard good things about these schools?

Rosa Costanzo says:
If you were to complete the program at Polimoda in Milan , I believe that the skills you learn could be applied in Canada , as Milan is one of the 4 major fashion cities. Each school has different teachers with different teaching styles, but each curriculum can be applied in the fashion industry. It is all what you do with the skills that you learn, and how you adapt your skills when you are working in the industry. You should research the schools that you are interested in more closely, and choose the school that fits your needs.

Pursuing a Fashion Design Career

Q: I'm in grade 10 and I am dedicated to pursuing fashion design as a career. I have been taking sewing lessons at a local fabric shop for three years, but I'm not sure what the next step towards my chosen career is. What would you suggest for a next step?

Rosa Costanzo says:
My suggested next step in pursuing a career in fashion is to enroll with a school that specializes in Fashion Design (Ryerson, LaSalle, Parsons, for example) to receive the additional professional training that you need to pursue a career in fashion. In the meantime, you can also volunteer with a local fashion designer or manufacturing company to learn and understand the trade at a hands-on level, which helps you to understand which area in fashion you would like to work in. There are many different careers in fashion (merchandising, styling, design, pattern making). Working within the industry will give you a taste of what you can expect in these fields.

Applying for a Magazine Internship

Q: What kinds of things look good on an internship resume for a fashion magazine?

Susan Langdon says:
My friend, who is editor-in-chief at one of Canada's top fashion magazines told me that she looks for the following when considering an intern:

1. Your cover letter is very important. Your love of fashion and why you want to intern at that company needs to be clear and passionate.

2. Spell-check and grammar-check your resume and cover letter. If there is one error, it goes into the "no" pile. Keep your cover letter and resume as professional as possible. Don't add pretty stickers, drawings or photos. Keep it simple.

3. Volunteering at fashion-related organizations shows a further commitment to your love of fashion. Consider volunteering for TFI and/or at fashion weeks.

4. At your interview, be sure to show your personal style in how you dress (keeping in mind it's a business interview) and do your best to be up on the latest trends and designer names. Visit style.com just before your interview and read all of the runway show reviews.

5. At your interview, be gracious, polite and intelligent.

6. Employers these days check out potential interns and employees on Facebook, Youtube and other social networking sites. If you can be found on the Internet, be SURE that your photos, blogs, videos etc. work in your favour and not against you.

Good luck!

High School Courses to Prepare for Fashion Education

Q: What courses do you recommend I take in high school to prepare for a post-secondary education in fashion?

Susan Langdon says:
If your high school offers sewing construction, I strongly recommend that you take that course and learn the basics of sewing techniques regardless of what area of fashion you wish to pursue.

Fashion Marketing Education

Q: What advice can you give on how to choose a good school for fashion marketing?

Christine Faulhaber says:
In order to get a good vibe from a school I would take multiple approaches.

Interview past students.

Meet with potential professors.

Ask the people/professionals who are working in the field where they went to get to. Is there a designer/fashion editor you admire? Where did they go to school?

Visit the school and see if it fits with you.

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