Top San Francisco Area Fashion Schools

Do you have a sketchbook full of fashion designs?  Are you highly creative and artistic, and interested in a career in the fashion design field?  If you have considered the field, you probably know that even entry-level positions require more than talent, they require a degree from an accredited institution to get you your start.

fashion school courseSan Francisco-area fashion schools offer both undergraduate and graduate level courses.  It is even possible to receive a Masters degree if you wish.  Students can select from the type of degree they wish to pursue, and have their choice of high-quality institutions at which to study.

Academy of Art University

This private school offers a student the choice of associates, bachelors, and masters degrees.  You can select fashion or fashion styling as a major, and it is even possible to study some of your courses online. Much of the work involves actual research on top of regular coursework.

FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

This is a private 4-year school accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. However, fashion degrees are offered at only the associate’s level.  A student can choose from one of two majors – the Fashion Design program or the Fashion Knitwear Design program.  Included in the curriculum for the Fashion Design program are sketching, computer pattern drafting, and even creative design.  This course stresses a realistic approach to fashion design.

Any student attending one of the San Francisco area fashion schools, who is interested in pursuing a specialized fashion career, should consider the Fashion Knitwear Design program; it may be the perfect fit. Students pursuing this degree will research trends in knitwear, create sketches and specifications for products, and develop their own professional portfolio to further their career.

Art Institute of California

san francisco fashion schoolAt the Art Institute of California, a student can learn about fashion design in both traditional and computer generated design programs.  This degree prepares the student to pursue an entry-level position as a fashion designer or assistant fashion buyer.  The Art Institute of California offers fashion programs at both the Associates and Bachelors degree levels.  It is also possible to pursue a Masters degree in fine arts within the fashion industry.

Students are expected to work with their peers on projects, a necessary skill for working with future colleagues.  They will learn how to create, design, and develop their own projects, and how to create a balance between the artistic and practical in the marketplace.  He or she is also guided in preparing a professional portfolio to use in the quest for a career in the design field.

Final Points to Consider

The fashion design Industry is a highly-competitive field, and choosing one of the top San Francisco area fashion schools allows students to develop the proper base for their future fashion career.  Having the correct background makes entry into the field much easier and means a more profitable and successful outcome.

California Fashion Career Path

Are you are considering a career in the fashion industry? Maybe you haven’t even graduated from high school yet, but are already looking ahead to what you need to do to break into the career in fashion you want. Where do you begin? What path do you take to get there? Should you start planning now? Where will you attend fashion school?fashion career path

The Fashion Career Path

With so many options and considerations, it is easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin. This post will walk you through some suggested steps you should take to make your dream become a reality. I will simplify the process for you as best I can, so let’s begin.

The diagram below is a high-level overview of a common fashion career path for you to follow. It is not going to fit everyone’s specific circumstances, but it should work as a good starting point to guide you along. I will describe these points in more detail below the diagram.

Plan – Is a Career in Fashion Right for You?

Before you get too involved in organizing your future career in the fashion industry, you need to do some soul-searching. Determine if you are truly passionate about fashion and design. Do you really want it? Do you consider fashion design to be one of your strongest talents? Is fashion merely an interest of yours, but not really a sustainable career that will keep your interest long-term? Ask yourself these questions. Try to be honest with yourself.

What Resources Do I Have? How much money do you have to cover you fashion school tuition? Do you have money saved? Will your parents or other family members be assisting you financially? Will you work part-time while attending college? Will you be using student loans to pay your tuition? Can you afford to live abroad to attend fashion school? Do you have relatives or friends who live near one of your potential fashion school choices? Determine what financial and logistical resources you have available that you can leverage.

Focus – What Type of Fashion Education Do I Want?

California Fashion SchoolsWhat fashion degrees interest you the most? What do you want to study? Are you more interested in fashion design or fashion merchandising? Are you more interested in the creative side of the fashion industry, or do you want to work on the business side of fashion? Determine where your strengths, skills, and interests align; you should strongly consider a fashion degree that takes all three of these into account. Explore different programs to see which degree may be the best fit for you.

Location – Where is There A Thriving Fashion Industry?

There are thriving fashion centers throughout the world – Paris, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, and more… You will want to attend fashion school in or near one of these thriving fashion industry locations. You want to be where the action is. The fashion industry is an ever-changing industry. You want to live and study with the industry all around you, absorbing the news, trends, and fashion scene. Living near the action allows you to observe, first-hand, how the industry works and where you might find your place in it.

There are many resources on this site that will explain why California fashion colleges may very well be your best option. For many reasons, I suggest that you strongly consider California as your starting point for an education (and ultimately a career) in fashion.

Education – Which Fashion School is Best for Me?

Fashion Career in CaliforniaWhich college has the fashion degree program that you want? Be sure to check the school out thoroughly before making any commitments or enrolling. Does the school seem like a good fit for you? Would you be comfortable there and in the immediate surroundings? If the school doesn’t feel right to you, trust your instincts and keep looking. Try to talk to as many existing students as you can to find out more. Meet with a school counselor (and bring a list of questions you have).

You may want to find out if there are any alternate fashion schools nearby in the event you need (or want) to transfer out of your original school of choice. For example, if you were to consider going to fashion school in California, you might want to focus on a college in Los Angeles; there are many alternative fashion school options available in the L.A. area should you need to make a change.

Internships – Get a Fashion Internship.

Once you have settled in to a fashion program and a college you love, keep moving towards your ultimate goal of landing your dream job in the fashion industry. In your junior or senior year (perhaps even earlier) try to land a fashion internship that will help you to apply your newly learned knowledge. Try not to be concerned with pay. Getting a decent internship can be quite competitive and you may not be payed at all. You are going for experience here. The primary goal of an internship is to find a way in to a career when you graduate.

Career – Starting Your Career in Fashion

It all leads up to this. If you did chose to go to a California fashion school, you are already at an advantage to many of your peers who did not. You will probably already be familiar with all the major fashion industry players in the area. You may have even worked for one of them at your last internship.

Now is the time to organize your resume and fashion portfolio. Use the knowledge you learned in college and the experience you gained from your fashion internships to land your dream job.

Fashion Schools in California – Students Wanted!

If you are attending one of California’s top fashion schools?  We want to hear from you!  Tell us about your experience.  What do we want to know?  We’re looking for your real-life reviews and experiences.  Some example topics include:

  • Why I chose to get my fashion degree in California
  • My favorite thing about attending fashion school in California
  • What a typical day is like as a fashion student
  • My favorite fashion study subject is…
  • How I decided to attend…
  • My most challenging fashion school experience

Feel free to use the subjects listed above, or come up with one of your own.

Submit your story to us via email to  We look forward to hearing from you!



Have the Three Qualities Needed to Succeed in Fashion?

Over the past year, we’ve had the opportunity to ask hundreds of fashion professionals a seemingly simple question:  What is the single-most necessary personal quality required to succeed in the fashion industry?

The question seems simple enough, but we were blown-away by the breadth and depth of the responses we received.  Everyone has an opinion, and the fashion-forward qualities listed below are the aggregated results of of those opinions.  As you can imagine, we received an expansive range of

responses.  Despite the variety in their responses, we did find some common trends.  Below are the three most-common responses we received from fashion professionals working in and around Los Angeles; the most-common response is first.

Top Three Qualities Needed to Succeed in Fashion



From the responses we received, it’s clear that you have to be passionate about fashion and the fashion industry.  Some of the responses we received include:

  • “You have to have passion.  You have to want to succeed and love your work.”
  • “People go into fashion because they have to.  It’s something they have to do.”
  • “This is a business nobody would ever get involved in if they didn’t really want to do it.”


Another common response indicated that creativity plays a huge part in succeeding in fashion, especially when it comes to fashion design and marketing.

  • “You need the ability to look at things from a fresh new angle.  Fashion trends change so rapidly along with the demand for new designs.”
  • “The ones who can see into the fashion future, who have the creative vision to inspire, are the one who do very well in this industry.”
  • “Creativity.  Hands-down, creative design.”


Knowledge and education were the third most-common response we received.  Many of the fashion professionals agreed that learning at a fashion college or university near a major industry market is the most advantageous.

  • “I moved to California when I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in fashion.  I wasn’t sure at the time it was a smart thing to do, but in hindsight, I have no regrets.”
  • “You may know your stuff, you may be a gifted designer, but you still need the education.”
  • “Find a mentor.  Learn from someone great.”

Why Move to a California Fashion School?

move to californiaWe recently received the following email from a visitor named Emily.  She wanted to tell us about her experience of moving to California and attending a top school near Los Angeles.  We felt it was a great message to share with those of you who are interested in getting a fashion degree, but felt that California may be too far away for you.

It takes courage and determination to leave behind what you are comfortable with to pursue your dreams.  The fashion industry is not an easy one to make a name in, but it can be done.  Kudos to Emily and the success she has found pursuing her dream.

Here is Emily’s message:

Dear Califashioned,

I am writing the message to you at the end of my first week employed as a Fashion Design Assistant for a respected apparel designer in the Los Angeles area.  I know it’s early, but I can already say for sure that I have found my place.  I’m so excited to be working in an industry that is always in demand and evolving.  So, I thought it would be good to share my story with your readers to let them know it is possible to follow your dreams and take a risk.

Since I was in grade school, fashion has always been a passion of mine.  By the time I was in high school, I had many notebooks and sketchbooks filled with design ideas.  Even during my regular coursework, it was all I could do to keep focused in class.  I would catch myself doodling away at the next big design (lol).    It was something I had to do.

Fashion School LetterThankfully, in my junior year of high school, I had an art teacher who recognized the passion I had for fashion design.  She was the one who pushed me to challenge myself with art and my creativity.  I grew a lot from the time I spent in her class.  It was at this point that I knew for sure that I wanted to work as a fashion designer.

I remember speaking to my parents about it.  They were supportive, but also apprehensive because they felt that a career in fashion may not be the most practical route.  I know they were just looking out for me, but they eventually came to understand just how passionate I was about it.

During my senior year, my parents and I spent quite a few weekends checking out fashion education programs at local and state colleges and universities.  Some of the programs were impressive, but many seemed lacking in innovation.  As the end of my senior year in high school was approaching fast, I began to get panicked because I still hadn’t found a school that really stood out.  I saw advertisements for fashion schools in California, but for whatever reason, never considered moving that far away to attend college.  It seemed too far a move from my home in the Cleavland suburbs.  But the seed was planted and I continued to ask myself why not?

The day after Christmas, nearly five years ago, my parents took me to the airport.  The plan was for me to stay with my aunt and uncle who lived just north of Los Angeles.  I had made plans to meet with admissions counselors (who were gracious enough to meet with me during a holiday break!) at three fashion schools in and near Los Angeles.  The first school I went to was perfect.  I knew it was the place for me.  Their fashion design program was like no other I had encountered yet.   I cancelled the appointments I had with the two other schools and started making plans to move to California.

My aunt and uncle said I could stay with them, using my cousin’s bedroom – she was a sophomore in college living in a dorm out of state.  We would have to share a bedroom when she returned for breaks, but she was happy to, and so was I.  My parent’s agreed to the plan.  I remember being so excited, but also nervous about moving away from my friends and family.  After graduating high school, I spent the summer working and preparing to move to California.

When I finally moved in with my aunt and uncle, I was so excited to start school.  I had secured a student loan and been accepted into the college’s fashion design program.  My aunt and uncle made me feel at home and I was able to use my cousin’s car to commute to and from school.  I had found my place!  It was tough being away from my friends and family, but you do adjust.  Be sure to plan visits home if you can.

After four years, I graduated knowing that I had a great education under my belt.  My program focused on fashion design, but also incorporated business skills, and technology.  I have no regrets about choosing to attend school in California rather than back home.  The fashion programs back home did not come close.

If you want to do it, but are afraid of moving away, give it some more thought and consideration.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t made the choice to move away for the best fashion program.  I’m as excited today, as I was when I started school four years ago.





What Is Fashion School in California Like?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like going to fashion school in California? Is it really has fun and exciting as it seems? Is the glamor and and excitement of it all just hype? Having had the experience of attending one of the top fashion schools in California, I can tell you, the answer to all of these questions is… yes.

I have to say, leaving a small town in the Midwest at 19 years-old and heading to California after being accepted into one of the best fashion schools in the state is, in fact, very exciting. The thoughts in my head played out like a movie… I was about to leave my life in a small town to head to fashion college in L.A. It seemed so surreal to me; I was so happy, excited, and nervous.

What I would come to find was that the glamor of the situation had more to do with leaving the town where I lived and moving to California. What I mean is, moving, or the geographic and lifestyle changes that I was making where the really glamorous and exciting aspects of heading off to attend fashion school. Nearly all the thoughts I had about what it would be like in college, the real educational part of the experience, were unrealistic..

Fashion School is Hard Work

Experience California Fashion SchoolsI laugh at how unrealistic my view and expectations of what fashion school would be like. It was going to be all fun. It was always going to be interesting. It wasn’t going to be too difficult – After all, I was really talented and had a knack for fashion design. Don’t get me wrong, much of my time spent in college was fun and interesting, but I was wrong about it always being that way.

Like anything else, we tend to get used to and comfortable (and even bored) with routines. My fashion school experience was to be no different. Yes, even in the exciting world of fashion design, even studying the subject that interested me most, I found some aspects of the program just plain boring and/or tediously difficult. At first, it really scared me; was a degree in fashion design what I really wanted after all? Should I really have come all the way out to California, spending so much money on a program that didn’t suit me? What I came to find is that many of my peers, other students in the same program, also had their doubts. We all had similar feelings of, “Wow, this is tougher than I thought it would be.”

Luckily, I came to realize that my initial, inexperienced view of the fashion school experience was a bit over-hyped. Just with anything else in our lives, if we do something often enough, we settle into an experience to the point where it can seem mundane. What is really happening though, is that we are readjusting to a new baseline. It was at this point that I realized that, yes, I really did want to continue as a student of fashion design. I’m glad that I did.

Even though fashion school turned out to be far more challenging than I initially thought it would be, it was still exciting. It was still fun. It was what I enjoyed doing. After my difficult adjustment to freshman year, things really took off for me.

Fashion is Everywhere in California

California has so much to offer the prospective fashion student, especially in Los Angeles. There are many colleges and universities in such close proximity, offering so many awesome fashion and art-related experiences. You can’t just stay within your comfort zone at your own school. Check out some of the extracurricular programs, shows, and activities offered at some of the other nearby schools. Get out and meet other people who have a passion for fashion.

Make your fashion school experience more than going to classes and on-campus workshops. Get involved in the entire fashion environment that surrounds you in California. You will learn some of your most important fashion-related lessons outside the classroom. Look into internships right away. Don’t wait until you are in your final year of college to start thinking about a fashion internship. Look for opportunities to learn and experience from the start, and keep tht passion for learning more going throughout your fashion education.

Part 2 of my California fashion school experience will be coming soon…

Top California Fashion Colleges Near Thriving Industry

California continues its reign as the nation’s primary fashion industry center. In Southern California, there are nineteen higher-education institutions with fashion degree programs and coursework; all of these institutions have recorded full student enrollment. It’s already been expressed as to why you should consider attending a California fashion school, but here are some more interesting facts about the California industry and fashion market that may surprise you…

Go to School Where the Action Is!

  • California Fashion Schools - ApparelAccording to the California Fashion Manufacturing Association, the apparel & textile industry sales/value of shipments, for the Los Angeles region alone, topped $41.9 billion dollars. That is nearly a 100% increase in volume from 1997!
  • In the Los Angeles area, there were 121,308 individuals employed in the fashion apparel and textiles industry (there were only 73,822 employed in the New York area fashion industry.)
  • Let’s continue on with some more surprising L.A. area fashion industry statistics:
  • In 2009, there were over 3,600 apparel manufacturing establishments identified.
  • Apparel and textiles are the second-largest commodity (after autos) imported via Los Angeles sea ports.
  • The L.A. area is the nearest fashion exporting point to Asia where there is a growing middle-class demand for high quality apperal manufactured in the United States.

It’s no surprise that Los Angeles and Orange County are home to some of the top California fashion schools! With a strong demand of educated fashion and textiles workers, and a continually expanding apparel manufacturing sector, California’s fashion schools put you near that action.

Fashion Schools in Los Angeles, CA

If California is the leading fashion state in the nation, then Los Angeles is undoubtedly the fashion capitol. With Hollywood on the outskirts of downtown L.A., major fashion designers make it a point to be noticed. With so much fashion of the fashion industry bustling about nearby, it makes perfect sense to get in close to the action. Today, I want to focus in on the top fashion schools in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Area Fashion Schools

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), 919 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90015

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) has a huge dedicated campus in the heart of downtown Los Angeles located at the corner of 9th Street and Grand Avenue. You can check out the campus here. Grand Hope Park is located directly adjacent to the main campus building.

FIDM Los Angeles Fashion SchoolFIDM’s primary fashion majors offered include (but there are even more specialized programs):

  • Fashion Design
  • Advanced Fashion Design
  • Appearal Industry Management
  • Entertainment Set Design & Decoration
  • Footwear Design
  • Film & TV Costume Design
  • Jewelry Design
  • Merchandising Marketing
  • Merchandise Product Development
  • Interior Design

Of the fashion schools in Los Angeles, FIDM is without a doubt a major fashion college that is tough to beat. It’s central Los Angeles location puts you in the heart of the action and makes nearby resources easily accessible for students.

The Art Institute of California, 5250 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601

Art Institute of California Fashion SchoolJust outside of L.A. in North Hollywood, The Art Institute of California has a substantial fashion eduction offering that focuses on preparing students for careers in the fashion industry. The college is primarily a school of the arts and includes fashion-related educational programs and degrees. The Art Institute of California’s fashion school offers the following fashion program options:

  • Fashion Design
  • Fashion Marketing & Management
  • Fashion Retailing

The Academy of Couture Art, 5700 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 275, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Academy of Couture Art’s Couture Fashion School is not the largest of fashion schools in Los Angeles, but is still a major fashion college to consider. Located just west of the downtown Los [wp_ad_camp_1]Angeles area, the Couture Fashion School is only two miles from the glamorous fashion centers of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The fashion school’s campus is shared with other colleges including the Goethe-Institut and Boston University.

Academy of Couture Art Fashion School in Los AngelesThe specialized fashion degrees and certificates offered at the Academy of Couture Art Fashion School include:

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fashion Design
  • Associate of Arts Degree in Fashion Design
  • Creative Fashion Design Laboratory Certificate
  • Professional Fashion Design Laboratory Certificate
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Pattern Design
  • Associate of Arts Degree in Pattern Design
  • Creative Pattern Design Laboratory Certificate
  • Professional Pattern Design Laboratory Certificate

If your primary interest in fashion is in pattern design, look into the Academy of Couture Art. You will be hard-pressed to find comparable specialized courses in the Los Angeles area.

Elite Fashion Academy, 1080 South La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90035

As a prospective fashion student, if you want to learn and get hands-on experience working with fashion industry experts, but aren’t necessarily dead-set on getting a fashion degree, may want to check out Los Angeles’ Elite Fashion Academy. Not far from The Academy of Couture Art in west Los Angeles, Elite Fashion Academy offers comprehensive, fashion-related programs in the following:

  • Modeling
  • Fashion Photography
  • Hair Styling
  • Fashion Styling
  • Makeup Artistry

California Fashion Internships – How to Get a Fashion Internship

California fashion internships are a great way to get your foot-in-the-door in the fashion industry. Internships in general have become one of the best ways to solve the problem many students face after graduating from fashion school – no experience. I won’t argue that going to fashion school full-time while working an internship in the fashion industry is difficult. I know it’s hard! However, if you can do it without compromising your education, try to get into an internship opportunity by your junior year. How do you find an internship in the fashion industry?

Finding a California Fashion Internship

Fashion InternshipsMany California fashion schools offer internship placement programs that can assist you in finding an internship that will enhance your education while giving you the experience you need (and that so many employers in the fashion industry require these days). Start off your search for a fashion internship in your schools placement or guidance office. Schedule an appointment with a college counselor who will more than likely be willing to assist you in finding an internship opportunity. Many fashion schools have a designated internship opportunity board. This may be an old-fashioned bulletin board in an on-campus hallway, or an online bulletin board where school administrators post internship openings. Keep an eye out for new listings.

[wp_ad_camp_1] Some internship providers will post their internship openings on the same job boards that they offer their full-time positions on. Major fashion industry companies may post on the bigger, national job boards. Setup automated searches on these sites that will notify you via email when a new internship opens up. Since you are looking for a fashion internship in California, be sure to check smaller California statewide and regional job boards on regular basis. Job boards are a great way to search for a wide variety of nearby fashion internships. Don’t feel like the only way to score a fashion internship in California is by searching job boards.

Use Networking to Land a Fashion Internship in California

california fashion internshipsMany internship opportunities will never make it to the job boards or your college administrative offices. In fact, I would dare to say, that the best fashion internships will never be found in this manner. We’ve all heard the saying that, “it’s who you know.” There is a lot of truth in that saying. Be sure to get involved in the nearby fashion-related social scene. Attend events, fashion shows, and industry presentations. Meet as many people at these events as you can. When you meet someone who works in the industry, ask them about what they do and where they work. Don’t be afraid to let them know that you are looking for a fashion internship. You may be surprised to find how willing some people are to help you out; they were in your shoes once too.

California Fashion Internships – A Competitive Market

California Fashion Internships CompetitionCalifornia fashion internships are available, but you have to realize that there is quite a bit of competition for them. Do not get frustrated when you are turned down for the internship (or internships) that you really wanted. Keep pressing on; if you didn’t get the internship you wanted with that big player in the fashion industry, don’t waste your time sulking, move on and apply for what you consider to be the next best opportunity. Keep doing this until you find an opportunity that will work for you. The key to getting a fashion internship in California is persistence and finding a way to set yourself apart from the pool of potential candidates.

Internships in Fashion: Be Unique

Sure, your grades will have some influence with prospective employers, but you will need more to get them really interested in what you have to offer. Try to get letters of recommendation from respected instructors at your fashion school; these recommendations can play a huge part in influencing internship providers. Also, be sure to have resume or biography outlining your skills, talents, any previous experience, and education. The final key ingredient to include when applying or interviewing for a California fashion internship is a portfolio.

A well organized portfolio featuring work samples will set you above-and-beyond many of the other internship candidates who are vying for the same opportunity. I would even recommend custom tailoring your portfolio to each internship opportunity you apply or interview for. Clearly, a portfolio loaded with your best work samples in fashion merchandising will not have as much influence on a potential employer when the internship is in fashion design.

Don’t let a competitive market scare you off. You have to learn to accept rejection and move on. Don’t take rejection personally; you have to look at it from the employer’s point of view too. They want the best possible fit in the role they have available because many of the students they place in an internship position will go on to work for that employer full-time after graduation. Keep pressing on…

California Fashion Industry & Internships

Lucky for you, California has one of the largest, most-successful fashion industries in the world. Many major-players in fashion have office, manufacturing centers, and design houses in California. A fashion internship in California is going to be far easier to find than a fashion internship in another state in the U.S. Just being in California gives you an advantage over students attending fashion school in other states in the nation.

The fashion market in California continues to grow annually providing more and more internship opportunities for fashion students. Fashion internships in fashion design, marketing, textiles, and fashion merchandising are readily available.