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Fashion Schools and Colleges

Learn How to Become a Fashion Designer, Marketer, or Merchandiser

By Publisher
| Last Updated February 21, 2023

Fashion schools in Canada can help you bolster your passion with marketable career skills.

You can have the chance to start pursuing success in the exciting and creative industry you genuinely want to be part of. Just imagine the new doors that could open to you by completing fast, practical training at one of the fashion schools Canada has to offer. With your enthusiasm and ambition, you might ultimately become one of the country's top designers or merchandising pros.

If you're interested in what fashion schools might have to offer, it's essential to know if you're more interested in the creative side or the business side of the industry. Do you want to be on the side of creating an item or on the side of promoting it? Some fashion programs will focus on both the design and marketing aspects, but many will offer them as separate programs. The following information about these fields can help you make an informed decision about the direction to take for your future.

The Triad of Fashion Jobs

There are three major categories of fashion jobs in the industry, each with related careers:

  • Creative (designers, stylists, illustrators)
  • Manufacturing (production coordinators, pattern drafters)
  • Business (buyers, fashion merchandisers, marketers)

All three aspects work together to turn a simple idea into this season's must-have item.

Types of Fashion Programs

Which training program you choose really depends on where your natural talents lie. Are you passionately creative and able to translate your visions into stylish clothing and footwear sketches? If so, you may want to find a program that prepares you for a career as a designer, and teaches you about trends, design, textiles, fabrics, and color.

But, if you think you're more suited to a technical role, you may want to pick a program that provides pattern-making and computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) training. This type of education can prepare you for a career turning the fashion designer's ideas into prototypes, which are subsequently used in manufacturing.

Finally, you may want to select a program that includes fashion merchandising and marketing. With this type of training, you could launch a career in merchandising or trend forecasting (providing market research on which new designs are based).

Fashion Training Environments

There are three main environments where you can receive training:

  • Colleges and trade schools
  • Universities
  • Online and hybrid programs

Although all three will typically provide you with similar foundations, they differ in crucial ways. For example, universities tend to focus on equipping you with broad knowledge and often include general education courses. In comparison, fashion colleges and trade schools lean more toward offering job-specific programs that allow for more hands-on training in the classroom and during internships in the field.

For those who need or prefer a more flexible and convenient way to complete their education, taking a fashion program online or in a hybrid format (online/in-person mix) could be a good fit. However, distance learning may not offer as much interaction with fellow students, instructors, and people within the fashion industry. That said, much of this depends on the individual student and how comfortable they are with technology. Many people thrive interacting with others in a virtual environment, whereas some may do much better meeting regularly face-to-face with others. And many others can benefit from a combination of on-campus and online learning.

Finally, all three differ in their time commitment. Typically, college programs are shorter than university programs. And online schools may offer flexible, accelerated scheduling.

There are many things to consider when deciding which learning environment would suit you best, including these three key questions:

  • Is the school accredited?
  • Does it fit my current lifestyle?
  • Does it fit my career goals?

Fashion Design

Fashion designers get to take their inspiration and sparks of creativity and turn them into items and collections people will want to buy and wear. Being a fashion designer is about so much more than just imagination, drawing pretty pictures, and sewing. Designers need to ensure the technical details are correct, from measurements to fabric composition and colour. Plus, they need to consider how the final product fits, feels, and looks before a it makes it to the market.

Whether it's making camouflage fatigues, baby clothes, yoga pants, or high fashion, an apparel designer's job is to ensure the product suits and appeals to its target demographic(s), which can be a fun challenge for creatively-minded people.

Why Fashion Design Is a Career Worth Taking Seriously

By striving to produce and deliver high-value products efficiently and cost-effectively, the Canadian apparel industry takes an innovative approach to producing wearable items, including clothing, footwear, accessories, outerwear, high-fashion garments, and more. As a result, those products are in demand domestically and worldwide. As of August 2022, the United States is still the Canadian fashion industry's major export market. In clothing manufacturing, the U.S. gets about 72 percent of Canada's exports. China, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom represent the next most prominent trading partners, but the U.S. is the top buyer by far.

And keep this in mind: as changes continue in how Canadian fashion apparel is produced and manufactured, more demand is created for fresh talent and people who bring new ideas. Since this nation's fashion industry is largely focused on producing high-end apparel, most of its non-manufacturing activities (such as design) still take place in Canada. World-famous cities like Vancouver and Toronto are well-known for being home to numerous creative designers. And when it comes to fashion schools, Vancouver and Toronto have a lot to offer.

Fashion Designer Salary Potential and Career Outlook

The median hourly wage for a fashion designer in Canada is $24.44. Entry-level and the low end of earnings is $17/hr, but designers can make $41/hr or more on the high end. So it is possible to earn substantially more than the median, especially if you establish your own successful line of clothing or retail brand. And that speaks to one of the major benefits of attending certain fashion design schools: Their programs often cover a lot of the business-related aspects of the industry, such as marketing and merchandising. That way, you can graduate with an understanding of what you'll need to do to become successful on that level.

Regarding employment outlook, opportunities for people with the right mix of skills, talent, and vision certainly do exist. Between 2019 and 2028, nearly 9,200 new openings are projected to become available within the job category that includes fashion designers and other creative designers and craftspersons.

Plus, you can increase your odds of finding a position you enjoy by networking with people in the industry while still going through your fashion design training. Being a fashion student can often help you make those connections more easily than you might otherwise be able to, especially if your drive to succeed shines through.

It is worth noting that the Canadian data available on the anticipated growth of fashion jobs leaves much to be desired. Aspiring designers tend to have a true passion for the industry and are not motivated or deterred based on job prospects alone. Getting top-notch training at some of the fashion schools Canada offers can give you the base of knowledge and skill you need to pursue creative ventures and set yourself apart from the rest.

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Fashion Merchandising and Marketing

Fashion merchandising schools give creative yet business-minded individuals a chance to learn how to buy, sell, or promote the work of talented designers and contemporary brands. Their programs focus on a career choice that can pay off in the form of personal satisfaction, effective confidence, good earnings, and distinctive perks.

Many people in this fun and expansive field get to enjoy the kinds of benefits that can be hard to find in other vocational sectors. So whether you go into fashion buying, retailing, or promotion, you're likely to be in for some positive surprises. Simply put, fashion marketing schools and colleges offer training options that have opened doors to exciting professional lives for countless students interested in fashion and business.

Why Study Fashion Merchandising and Marketing?

Here are some of the top reasons people like you pursue a career in the business of fashion:

Multifaceted Enjoyment

For people who delight in performing both creative and business-oriented tasks, this career area offers the chance to experience total professional fulfillment. After all, blending your biggest interests into one vocational package makes it easy to feel satisfied and motivated each day.

Lots of Fun Career Paths

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work as a fashion buyer for a prominent or chic retail brand? How about as someone who gets to plan and coordinate the digital and print marketing campaigns for an up-and-coming fashion designer or clothing store?

Those are just two of the many inspiring possibilities you might pursue. Others include being a fashion retail manager, display specialist, fashion runway coordinator, assistant to an in-vogue stylist, or even a self-employed fashion consultant.

Plus, you may have the chance to work in some truly fun places for businesses that specialize in fascinating types of clothing. For example, the Greater Vancouver area of BC is home to several performance apparel companies that manufacture and sell stylish yet functional gear for all kinds of outdoor activities.

Free Items and Big Discounts

Many fashion buyers and marketing pros receive free clothing samples or accessories from designers and manufacturers who want their products sold in stores or promoted more widely. Plus, many fashion retail pros also receive significant discounts on any items they purchase at the stores they work for.

Opportunities to Travel

Fashion is an international industry. As a result, many people in this business get to travel around the world to attend fashion shows or meet with designers, suppliers, or media representatives.

Insider Knowledge

Working in fashion often means being privy to upcoming style trends before anyone else knows about them. And that can give you an advantage in specific negotiations or even help you impress important people in a social setting.

Fascinating People

Because of the global nature of this creative industry, it is common to interact with interesting and talented people from across Canada as well as from many other countries. That means you can develop professional relationships and personal associations that are out-of-the-ordinary and anything but boring.

Fashion Marketing and Merchandising Salary and Job Outlook

Since fashion merchandising and marketing professionals have so many career options, they can also find some good-paying opportunities. For instance, check out just a few of the median salaries in Canada for people in occupational areas that often involve fashion:

When it comes to the outlook for merchandising and marketing, job openings in the fashion industry are expected to be about the same as the number of people training to fill them. Data from the Government of Canada's Job Bank shows a similar balance of labour supply and demand for several main career areas in fashion merchandising and marketing, including marketing management, retail management, and retail buying.

This predicted balance of worker supply and demand for the 2019-2028 period is an excellent example of why it's vital to get the proper training and skills so that you can highlight both your technical proficiency and your unique attributes and stand out among other job applicants.

Begin Your Journey in Fashion Today

Learn a lot more about what an education from one of Canada's top fashion schools involves and can do for your career prospects. Find one right now by entering your postal code into the simple school finder on this page!