I truly believe that a high school education today doesn’t teach you the essential tools and life skills you need to succeed in this world.  Now that I am a lot older, I realize that none of my high school teachers and counselors had a clue about a fashion design education or the fashion industry.  Furthermore, none of them actually went to any fashion design school, and none of them had any actual training or experience working in a garment factory setting.  So, the question everybody should ask themselves is… why are these unqualified high school teachers and counselors allowed to preach, teach and mislead their students about the fashion industry, when they don’t have any expertise, training, knowledge, experience or credentials in that field?  Why are they repeating these falsehoods?  From what I understand, high school teachers and counselors are encouraging students to take on massive student loans, so they can attend elite fashion schools and get a fashion degree.  This is the absolute worst advice and guidance you can give to any high school student.  Do you really want to start your fashion career with huge student debt hanging over your head for the next 10 years or more?

Today, you no longer need a formal fashion design education to obtain employment in the apparel industry.  High school teachers and counselors have been leading their students in the wrong direction this whole time, and, in fact, they are setting them up for failure.  Why would you want to spend $45,000 to over $320,000 on a fashion degree/diploma with a fashion design school that can’t even guarantee you a well-paid job after graduation?  Why would you want to give all your money to a fashion institution, and have nothing left to start your own fashion business?  Instead, you are broke and jobless AND you have a huge student loan weighing on your shoulders?  Just think logically and rationally for a moment here.  Do you really need a fashion degree/diploma certificate, when all you do is work in a “garment factory?”  Do you think a patternmaker, a pattern grader, a sewer, a French draper, or any skilled garment factory employee who is working in Southeast Asia has a fashion degree/diploma certificate?  Obviously, the answer is NO!  So, having said that, why would you need a degree/diploma if you are doing the same work as someone who is working in Southeast Asia?  The whole point of this discussion is that you don’t need a fashion degree/ diploma certificate to work in the fashion industry.  However, you do still need to learn real technical skills, such as sewing, pattern drafting, pattern grading, French draping, prepping Tech Pack, and gain relevant experience.  You can learn these technical trade skills, and the tricks of the trade, from Vancouver Sewing Classes.

Another key point I would like to address with all the parents out there: you need to stop pressuring your kids on the issue of getting a “fashion degree or fashion diploma”.  Do you know how many successful and wealthy designers in the world did not have any formal training in fashion design, or did not attend any fashion design school?  Many parents seem to forget that a university degree today doesn’t guarantee you a well-paid job!  You need to look harder at all these university students graduating from elite universities and colleges.  Many of them end up working at Starbucks, Save-On-Foods, 7-Eleven, etc.  Many of these graduates have bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees or even doctoral degrees, and they are still making minimum wage and living from pay cheque to pay cheque.  The reality is that having a fashion degree/diploma is absolutely useless if your daughter/son doesn’t have the necessary specific technical skills and experience to do the job that is required by the employer. 

I strongly believe that many parents were brainwashed and misled by their past high school teachers and counselors to believe that getting a university degree is the key to success.  Unfortunately, that is no longer the case today.  A university degree may be very useful in some fields, such as science, law or medicine, but not in the fashion industry.  Not only is this way of thinking outdated and naïve, but it also shows the need for parents to learn more about the fashion industry.  Failure to do so could set up a daughter/son to fail miserably in the fashion industry.  As a parent, do you really want your daughter/son to get hooked on these huge student loans that take years to pay off?  Are parents aware that the fashion schools they are sending their daughter/son to attend is NOT teaching their students any real technical or practical skills?  What will happen when your daughter/son cannot get a well-paid job in the fashion industry?  Why is your daughter/son working in a department store as a retail salesperson, instead of designing and creating garments as a fashion designer?  Do parents have no clue that they are getting conned and scammed by these fashion design institutions?  These are questions that, I am sure, most parents don’t often take the time to discuss with their daughter/son.

Even if your daughter/son has a fashion degree/diploma, but is unable to find a job due to the lack of technical skills training and experience provided by their fashion design school, how is your daughter/son going to pay off their student loan debt over the next 10 years?  How is that fashion degree working out for your daughter/son, when they don’t even have the money to start their own fashion line or can’t become a fashion entrepreneur?  Do you want your daughter/son to go back to school again, get another degree and accumulate even more debt?  Where do you draw the line?  At the end of the day, nobody cares about your daughter/son’s fashion degree/diploma, especially if they don’t have the right technical skills and experience to offer to their future employers.

– Chris Falcon is a Canadian designer and fashion educator with over 35 years of experience in the garment design and manufacturing business.