Bringing Fashion Design to Life in FCS Classrooms

As a curriculum publisher, we are built on a foundation of expert insight and passion for educating CTE students. We are very grateful for the opportunity to bring experts into your classrooms to help you teach from a real-world standpoint.

That's why we're so excited that Rachel Anderson, M.F.A., Assistant Professor of Apparel Design & Manufacturing for the College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech University, has agreed to provide her insights and expertise to our new Fashion Design Course and FCS curriculum being released throughout the Spring 2016 semester as well as this blog.

Teaching Fashion Design is Important in Secondary Education

The field of fashion design introduces students to a career that is simultaneously creative, exciting and challenging. Learning fashion design in high school can open doors to a creative career full of job potential and opportunities. Students interested in fashion design have so many options, starting with working either domestically or abroad.

Fashion is such a diverse industry and involves many facets. From drawing to sewing, to trend research and apparel production, even creating your own fabrics. You might even be involved in styling or fashion show production.

Fashion design merges together business and creation of a product with global sourcing and production. It is a global thriving business that gives students the opportunity to express their creativity and expand their love for design into a rewarding and successful career.

Fashion Design Students Learn Skills That Are Important in Everyday Life

When students enroll in a fashion design course they learn much more than simply industry-related skills. For instance, students learn how to work as a team, build self-confidence and find their independence. They are introduced to travel as well as other cultures and ways of life. All of which can influence their design and technique.

Students are exposed to creative inspiration sources such as media, art, fashion history, architecture and the world around them. They are able to build their creative skills and are given self-fulfillment of seeing their design ideas through the beginning sketch phase to a three-dimensional garment that can be produced and sold in stores through the United States and around the world.

Careers in Fashion Design are Extensive and Always Evolving

Technology and social media have increased job opportunities in fashion that reach far beyond just creating a garment. Students with an education in fashion design have a variety of options such as fashion designer, professional pattern maker, fashion show production, trend researcher, and fashion writer to name a few.

In the United States, the majority of fashion jobs are in metropolitan centers such as New York and Los Angeles. There are also a lot of corporate fashion companies spread out all across the United States in the Midwest and the South. There has been an increase in recent years in young designers starting their own business, so in large metropolitan cities all over the country, there are usually young designer startups that students can intern with to gain experience. In Texas, specific examples would be cities such as Dallas, Houston or Austin.

A Few Tips for Teaching Fashion Design Students

There’s always a debate in fashion education on which area should be more of a focus, creativity or business. I believe it is a balance of both. Allow students to express their creativity while also teaching them to understand that it’s a business and marketability and scalability for their target customers is always a factor.

Growth in skill level is part of the process. Reassure them that they don’t have to be the best at drawing or sewing at the beginning to be successful in the career. Designers have dedicated many years of study and practice to become what they are today.

Have patience as they find their creative voice.  Give students plenty of creative exercises to help them increase and express their creativity.

Inspiring Your Fashion Design Students

Provide good constructive criticism to your students. Don’t allow your own design aesthetic and views negatively impact their creativity. I don’t always have to like the design, but it should represent design principles, be marketable to their target customer, be well-executed and professionally presented. There’s a big marketplace that encompasses fashion. I may not want to wear everything my students create, but if there is a market for it, the student is happy with it and I have seen them grow and reach their full potential, then that is a great thing.

There is a delicate balance between encouragement and beneficial critique. Students don’t want to be told everything is great all the time or be given little feedback. As a creative person, you need feedback to grow. You need another point of view to reign in your ideas, teach you new ways of doing things and give you some focus. You are being severely detrimental to students if you don’t critique and have them revise and improve their work.

It’s sometimes hard for them to get used to, but in the end, they will be grateful for your guidance to help them grow and turn into successful artists and designers. The fashion industry is a team environment with a lot of feedback and critique.



Rachel Anderson, M.F.A.
Assistant Professor, Apparel Design & Manufacturing
College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University

Rachel Anderson has a background as an Apparel Patternmaker and Freelance Designer for Focus Apparel Group Incorporated of Dallas. She designed custom bridal and eveningwear under her own label in Houston, Texas and has worked as Associate Designer/Merchandiser with Donna Ricco Incorporated NYC, a Better Missy Dress/Sportswear design house sold to all federated department stores and private label including Talbots, Coldwater Creek, Chico's, T.J. Maxx and Harolds.