Dear Aspiring Fashion Designer, / by Terry Coulter

Dear aspiring fashion designer,


Before we chose fashion, there were so many fears, things to wonder and a general lack of knowledge of what the fashion industry was actually like. Here are some tips on how to decide if fashion is a great fit!

A great thing about the fashion industry is that there are so many options! When I started school I thought, “Oh yeah, everybody just graduates and works for a big designer and lives in a penthouse or something.” I forgot to account for the fact that everybody wears clothes, DUH! What I’m trying to say is that there are so many different types of jobs in the industry. You won’t just be sewing or designing. There is just so much to explore in fashion. We have textiles, technical design, fashion design, patternmaking and the list goes on. You may even discover that you like the business jobs like marketing or buying better. I would suggest doing a fair amount of research so you can go into school with a slight idea of where you may want to be in the industry. I see too many people leave the school disappointed that fashion shows and glitter aren’t a part of the everyday work.

Another tip I would give to someone who is thinking about pursuing a fashion education is that you do not have to be the reincarnation of Coco Chanel. The fashion industry is tough and shows like Project Runway make it seem like people magically have these skills. When you go to fashion school, they will teach you everything from the bottom. Here’s the catch though, you need to want success really badly.

My next point goes hand in hand with wanting success. Having a degree doesn’t automatically entitle you to a job. If you go to class, go through the motions and then think that the bare minimum will get you a job, you are in the wrong field. I  don’t mean to be harsh, but the fashion industry takes so much passion and although some parts are fun and spectacular, there are going to be parts of the industry that annoy you to your core. My philosophy has always been to take something out of every class. Some subjects may be dry, but when you get out into the field, it is great to be well rounded. That advice can pretty much be applied to anything you do in life. If you sit in the back of the class playing solitaire instead of soaking up as much as you can, there may be a situation someday where you could have used the info.  I am going to quote a very wise teacher from my alma mater, “If you aren’t willing to learn you will be treading water your whole career.”

Lastly and importantly, stay true to your design aesthetics. If you are constantly comparing yourself to other people, you can’t grow as a designer. Design styles you love, keep up with trends, and stay original. Every time you design something, ask yourself what sets you apart from the bunch. The fashion industry is competitive, but if you are constantly competing, it takes the beauty and fun out of design.

At Terry Jolo Brand, we are constantly being asked about what it is like to be in the fashion industry. There are so many aspiring designers in Pittsburgh and we hope that some of you take something away from reading this post. Remember, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Research your options and keep asking questions!