The Life of a Fashion Designer
By Brian Gulash

Forget what you know about the glamour, the clothes, and the sexy image. It takes a lot more than that to spit out the next Calvin Klein.

Take a look around, they are the people waiting your table at Café Luxe, and serving your morning coffee; they are what some have termed as “struggling artists” or FFDA (future fashion designers of America). Thanks to shows like, “The Cut” and “Project Runway,” we have seen an in-depth look at the competition, and the hard production challenges FFDA’s endure, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

First there’s the education: did you know there are several degrees in fashion, ranging from merchandising, marketing, design, production, and many more in between. There’s also varying levels of said studies from a certificate to a master’s degree. Now comes the question, “Which school?” and “How do I get in?”

There are hundreds of colleges that are devoted to the arts in the US alone, and now there are traditional universities that have tailored their curriculum to include the study of fashion. Many of these schools have an easy admissions process; others require a semi-professional portfolio before they will even consider you for entry. Once you’ve chosen a school and become admitted, the next question to arise is, “How are you going to pay for it?”

One would think a degree in fashion couldn’t be that expensive. Sure, if you’re studying to be a doctor or a lawyer, you could be paying up to $175,000 for an education. But a fashion degree? Well, here’s the scoop; the average cost for a degree in fashion is around $37,000, and the price could go up to the hundred thousands. Of course, it depends on the school and type of degree you’re pursuing, but you get the picture.

Besides education, a FFDA must find an internship, and try to make it in the industry, which isn’t easy. No matter how talented you are, in the end, it usually comes down to who you know. So, the next time you are flipping through the latest Vogue and you see Stella McCartney sipping champagne with Naomi Campbell, just think to yourself; it takes a lot to become that glamorous. Stay with me, when next time I sit down with a real life Chicago FFDA, and give you the inside scoop on her outlook.