Fashion is a global, multibillion dollar industry that permeates every aspect of modern culture, most notably film, music, mass media, advertising, and business. International experience in the fashion industry is undoubtedly valuable, in one of the most competitive fields in the world, so fashion students should take full advantage of the priceless opportunity to study fashion abroad. Students that study fashion design abroad will experience new cultures while gaining a more dynamic perspective of the industry and expanding their understanding of the business on an international level.
Why Study Fashion Design Abroad
The transnational quality of fashion is fundamental to innovation within the industry. Trends and cross-cultural collaboration are fuel for the fire that is innovative fashion. Design, production, marketing, distribution, each step of the process involves scores of people working together across borders. Most prestigious opportunities to study fashion design abroad are located in fashion capitals like Paris, Rome, Madrid, Florence, and Milan. Gaining experience in the inherently international industry of fashion and merchandising provides a deeper understanding of the field as a whole, and it won’t look bad on a resume either.
Most fashion study abroad programs and academic internships are offered by host universities, but there are also fashion design schools specializing in a more fashion-focused catalogue of courses.
Europe is rife with opportunities to study fashion design abroad. The best places to study fashion design abroad are by far France and Italy, but there are excellent opportunities to study fashion abroad in England, the Netherlands, and Spain too. These countries have a long history of fashion, and have produced leading industry moguls, like Louis Vuitton, Coco Chanel, Versace, Gucci, and Burberry.
Fashion study abroad programs in Asia and the Middle East have increased over the past few decades, with fashion and merchandising courses offered anywhere from China to Israel to India. These locations are great alternative destinations to study fashion design abroad for those less interested in mainstream European trends or those who want to experience something a little more exotic than the familiar traditionally Western techniques.
Other top locations to study fashion design abroad include Australia, Argentina, and South Africa. These locations each provide their own unique spin on passion, whether integrating tribal fashion characteristics or integrating historically significant components.
Courses & Programs
Most study abroad programs dedicated to fashion design and merchandising offer basic courses in the field. However, each will vary in the specific types of courses available, so students will need to research individual program course catalogues before selecting a program. Academic institutions usually offer both summer and semester fashion courses, but several fashion schools offer year-long study abroad programs, or even undergraduate or masters degree programs abroad in fashion design.
On the more professional side of things, students can take courses in fashion business, luxury brand marketing, communications, public relations, technology, or trends and innovation, which will all be beneficial for a future career in fashion. There are also some concentrations to look for when browsing through opportunities to study fashion design abroad, such as courses or programs focused on the Italian Fashion Experience or French Fashion and Culture, which will provide students with an even more in depth look at the local fashion culture.
On the more physical and artistic side of the field, there are opportunities to study fashion design abroad on a variety of levels. Taking classes such as photography, stylistic techniques, textile and experimental surfaces, footwear and visual merchandising, jewelry making, or pattern making, will benefit students greatly by expanding their skill set and understanding of various aspects of the field as a whole.
Benefits & Challenges
International Nature. Fashion is a cross-cultural field that depends on international collaboration for inspiration, innovation, and continuous production of new trends. Students who study fashion design abroad will gain a deeper understanding of the inherently global quality of fashion and how fashion functions differently from one culture to the next.
Employment. Study abroad experience is always a competitive feature on a resume if you are looking to work in your home country or abroad, but studying fashion and merchandising in one of the world’s fashion capitals will no doubt set you apart from other applicants and provide you with incredibly valuable skills. Studying fashion design abroad will also be a great opportunity to network and, if you decide you enjoy living abroad, make connections that could lead to a future job or career in the country of your choice.
Internship Experience. Many fashion design study abroad programs combine coursework with internship opportunities, and these are most definitely programs fashion students should consider. The fashion industry is extremely competitive, and that does not exclude obtaining fashion internships abroad. By attending a program that combines these two valuable components, students will put themselves even that much more ahead of their peers.