How to Business Degree in Fashion
September 15, 2019 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Daughter Ashtray is considering heading to college for a degree in Fashion Business. So not the design component but the business end of it.Where to start?

She is imaginative and creative but is more interested in the nuts and bolts of how it works and pursuing a career with that in mind. To me this seems like the more practical end of what could be a pretty unpredictable business.
We have been looking online but are at a loss to understand is it better to get a business degree then take some courses on the fashion industry or a program that integrates both? Clearly there are tons of folks who run the designers, manufacturing, human resources, textile purchasing. What educational background would be helpful?
posted by ashtray elvis to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The University of Rhode Island Department of Textiles, Fashion and Design offers this type of program. My only impression comes from attending a couple of their year end fashion shows but the students and returning graduates who speak seem to work more in the business end. This looks like it might suit your daughter's interests but other universities may have similar departments.
posted by Botanizer at 5:33 PM on September 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

The folks I know in the business side of fashion have degrees in things like Marketing, Economics, or Fashion Merchandising. A fair number of them also have careers where they graduated, worked for a few years, then circled back to an MBA.

If you're uncertain about one of the "fashion" degrees, I'd ask the university who recruits and offers internships, and then I'd verify that by searching LinkedIn for people who graduated from that school and who now work at those companies.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 5:35 PM on September 15, 2019

My friends in that side of the industry (one in merchandising for a department store and one in merchandising for a design label) have undergraduate degrees in business and English. Neither of them went into college expecting to work in this field, but got into it after summer internships in New York.
posted by sallybrown at 5:45 PM on September 15, 2019

Check out the programs at FIT in New York City. It’s a SUNY school, so does 4 year programs, 2 year programs and certificate and continuing ed programs.
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:23 PM on September 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

Ditto FIT. It’s a fashion and retail focused business school more than it is a design school. My wife is an alumna and she and as far as I can all her classmate friends all got great internship opportunities and then got good entry level jobs with their bachelor degrees. Obviously check out placement statistics to make sure that still holds true...
posted by MattD at 7:02 PM on September 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

My niece majored in fashion merchandising. She did her first two years of college here in Buffalo and then transferred to FIT. FIT is a SUNY (State University of NY) school, so I don't think it's ridiculously expensive (aside from living expenses), even though it's in NYC. She had two decent internships and then got a job shortly after graduating.

Her jobs have dealt with trends, forecasting, interfacing with Asian manufacturers, and purchasing. Basically the stuff that any purchasing department does, except she works with clothes.

She's had no problems moving up (she's on her third job just a few years after graduating, working at a company that owns a few well-known stores).
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:24 PM on September 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I work fashion adjacent, I’d say it’s either FIT or a business/marketing degree anywhere. If she goes elsewhere, develop and nurture a deep interest in fashion whether academically or personally. Fashion companies all need operational support, not just designers (finance, marketing, buyers, logistics omg logistics). Most of these support functions did not attend fashion school. By being excellent at what you do AND having a knowledgeable, thoughtful, personal view on fashion, will put you ahead of many applicants.

FIT will def get you a leg up on networking though, no doubt.
posted by like_neon at 12:24 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I teach at a fancy university and over the years have watched numerous students, admittedly mostly (no, all) women, go on in the fashion industry, a couple to high levels in business or journalism. They have mostly had liberal arts majors (I’m a music prof and a few have passed through our shop) and some go on to MBAs.

I’m gonna say something else true though. Lots of young people want to join that seemingly glamorous business (much like music). The lower end entry level is thus extremely competitive and actually exploitative. I’m biased by teaching at an elite school, but the career path seems to favor kids from wealthy backgrounds both in terms of being able to sustain unpaid internships and in terms of how much “connections” seem to matter. At the same time, social media have democratized fashion journalism and other areas of the business and made it harder to make money or compete too. Surely you know this, but a hard working kid without money, connections, or (judging from who seems to succeed from my 25 years of teaching experience) great physical beauty may be up against more than academic requirements. Not to suggest your kid isn’t rich, connected, or beautiful. But as I think back on the 5 or 6 Ivy League students I’ve taught and followed who are now successfully launched on fashion industry careers (one a major exec has an MBA, another a very successful fashion writer for a top magazine) had all three things going on, plus smarts and business sense.
posted by spitbull at 3:22 AM on September 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Parsons School of Design has a BBA in Strategic Design & Management.
posted by Pineapplicious at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Actually I forgot to mention that I once knew someone who is now a CEO of a major online fashion business you’ve heard of and seen ads for on TV. She had a degree in fine arts, and a very good eye for clothes, and all the smarts in the world, and striking good looks, but what she really had was an incredible ability to sell something she believed in. If you can sell, you can work in any industry. Especially one based on stoking desires for expensive things people don’t really “need.” (Of course they do, etc etc.) And including one where “selling” means pitching your vision to VC boys doling out the millions.

This CEO is now successful on a Silicon Valley scale. She started out working class.

And she’s a former mefite from long ago.
posted by spitbull at 3:25 PM on September 16, 2019

Some great direction on where to go next. It seems a base in business/arts and follow up with an associates degree in fashion or completing your degree at a place like FIT to round out and specialize your experience.

Most of the programs have design as an integral part of the four year degree. I think about conventional business degrees and think this would replace organizational management or accounting?

This collective group can explain almost any concept I think.
posted by ashtray elvis at 5:54 PM on September 16, 2019

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