Fashion Design & Merchandising Degrees

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A Guide to Fashion Design & Merchandising Degrees Abroad

Are your besties Ralph, Marc, Coco, and Donatella? Do you consider yourself a fashionista, up on trends, and high in business savvy? Then getting a degree from top fashion colleges is the perfect fit! Fashion design careers are *all* about identifying trends before they hit the high street and successfully putting yourself in the shopper’s shoes to anticipate what they’ll buy and how much they’ll want. Imagine being the one to choose what graces the racks at boutiques and retail chains around the world! Put your best stiletto or loafer forward and earn an undergraduate, masters, or PhD abroad at the top fashion schools in the world.

Why Earn a Fashion Degree Abroad

Fashion is an ever-evolving entity. Each city, state, coast, and continent carries subtle nuances that inspire the clothes that walk the streets. Your outfit choices are influenced by culture, climate, budget, and background. Just imagine what your cultural colors can bring to the world of fashion! All the more reason for you to earn your degree from good universities for fashion. You’ll bring your own culturally unique disposition to the party and mix and mingle with the hottest looks of your host country. The result? Your new seamless style, born from a distinctive mix of cultures.

Just look at the fashion capitals of the world. From effortlessly simplistic style in Paris to flashy and funky threads in Tokyo, no two cities’ styles are alike. If you attend one of the top fashion universities in the UK, your style probably won’t resemble the laidback khaki of Down Under. Your melange of fashion knowledge and newly acquired eclectic taste will aid you in putting the best products on the market. Not to mention, your international resume will be irresistibly chic to your future employers.

Turn your Project Runway into your Project Alumni!


Fashion design careers mean you’ll more than likely brush shoulders with fashionistas from around the world. Learn greatly about the foundation of fashion and the craft of handwoven fabrics and textiles. Different cultures bring different points of view, different tastes, and thus, different styles. These different styles marinate together, create new trends, and keep fashion culture hot and thriving. You won’t see any drab threads walking the catwalk here. 

Italy. We’d be remiss for not mentioning fashion design courses in Italy! The international fashion capital of Milan is home to some of the finest fabrics known to grace the fashion world, not to mention top fashion colleges. Designers such as Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Roberto Cavalli reign over the fashion district, where shoppers flock to pay an arm and a leg for designer goods or just window shop the high end boutiques. You’ll also get to soak in Italy’s innate simplistic yet chic style. Milan is also known for its architectural gems – one of these jaw dropping, historical buildings may just house the next fashion week!

France. The city of lights and love, fashion schools in Paris are known for a transcendent vogue culture. The list of designer all-stars to emerge from Parisian culture seems infinite – topping the charts are Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior. It may have its own fashion week, but you can catch high-end fashion on the streets of Paris any day. A proper Parisian cannot emerge from their home in anything less than an effortless, minimalistic, but slightly daring outfit. Of course, no look is complete without the perfect pair of Louboutins, a trench, and mon dieu, don’t forget the scarf! Grab a warm croissant or pain au chocolat and stroll along the Seine River as a student of French fashion at some of the world’s best fashion design schools.

Japan. Home to a plethora of fashion styles, cultures, and subcultures that it’s challenging for even the most dedicated fashion founder to follow, fashion design schools in Japan are unlike anything anywhere else in the world. Tokyo is at the head of this funky fashion empire, and it all can be found among the eclectic, Japanese fashion fans. Bright colors, trendy platforms, and bold shapes take precedence, but each street fashion model has a clear unique quality that defines them in a crowd—great news for a fashion merchandising student! With a wider spectrum of styles, you can be sure that the clothes you choose to line the racks will appeal to someone.

United States. The city that never sleeps, New York, is home to fashion design universities and big names such as Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, and Calvin Klein. It hosts the infamous Fashion Week, where lists of designers like Tom Ford, Coach, and Tommy Hilfiger boast their high-end designs on the catwalk. You’ll feel ultra-inspired outside of the design studio, too, thanks the dynamic concrete playground that attracts cultures and people of every corner of the world.

While the number one fashion school in the world is debateable, we think the above shortlist gives you a good headstart.

Fashion Degree Programs

So, how do you make it to the Eiffel Tower or to the home of silken fabrics? Earn your degree in fashion merchandising at one of the best fashion design universities, of course! While degrees of all levels are available in fashion merchandising, your future jobs will all have relatively the same responsibilities. Your position and hiring company, however, will vary. High-end brands are most likely looking for a master’s degree or a doctorate degree in their fashion merchandiser. Other departments, chain stores, or even smaller boutiques may take any other degree or relevant experience. You can even get your start with fashion design internships, which good universities for fashion may even accept as credits!

Fashion merchandising is generally more business and marketing focused. After all, your job is to anticipate demand and identify niche styles to launch your brand. Don’t be surprised if your fashion design courses also require some creative coursework, like pattern cutting and fashion photography. Programs are generally structured around lectures, seminars, workshops, and the occasional guest speaker. Some fashion merchandising programs even offer the option to travel abroad to other fashion capitals for additional seminars and workshops.

You could attend some of the top fashion colleges in the world by earning your degree in fashion merchandising abroad. Milan, for example, houses famous fashion schools such as Istituto Marangoni and Politecnico di Milano. Even Paris has prestigious schools to offer, like Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and l'Ecole Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode (ESMOD).

Lucky for you, a lack of work experience in the fashion world won’t create a barrier to get into one of these programs. Good fashion colleges tend to approve students from all different academic backgrounds. For the higher-end schools aforementioned, get ready to submit a portfolio of drawings or concepts for admission. Standard application letters or essays, as well as the rare interview, may be asked of you as well.

Benefits & Challenges

Take in the boundless benefits, like absorbing another language and another culture. Eat foreign food, see foreign sights, – all while earning the fashion degree of your dreams. Foreign countries, especially in Europe, are thought to lead the way in fashion trends. You’ll be ahead of the game in the fashion world. This is the first stop for new ideas, so you’ll be clued in on the top trends (and maybe find out if the Devil actually does wear Prada).

While fashion merchandising does take to the business side of the fashion world and makes success more concretely objective, keep in mind this is still a creative area of study. Creative studies are opinion based and have stiff competition. Thousands of fashion schools around the world, however, give all of their students a fair chance with workshops, seminars, and internships. If you haven’t lived in a big city before, be prepared for an adjustment. All fashion capitals are big cities by nature, so be prepared for crowds, high prices, and the hustle and bustle of busy city life.

Prepare your best outfits and keep your business savvy in mind! Travel out into the world and learn the ups and downs, ins and outs of the fashion world. Pack some comfy shoes and your best pair of pumps because earning a degree at the best fashion design schools will take you anywhere the fashionistas are.

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A Guide To
Fashion Design & Merchandising Degrees Abroad


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