University subject profile: fashion and textiles | Education

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What you’ll learn

From weaves and dyes to stitches, silhouettes and tailored cuts – if you’re studying fashion and/or textiles you’ll need an artistic eye, attention to detail and impeccable skill.

The fashion industry is vast: it contributes around £32bn to the UK economy and supports some 797,000 jobs. Understandably then, there are a variety of degrees out there, each with a slightly different focus.

Broadly speaking, those studying fashion will be taught to understand the construction of clothing. This means practising drawing, pattern-cutting and tailoring, as well as developing an understanding of shape and colour. Lecturers will also help you build a knowledge of the industry, its history, cultural significance and ethical dilemmas.

You’ll gain insight into how the fashion world functions commercially, and the professional qualities needed to survive in what is a notoriously competitive sector.

Textile degrees focus on the design of the cloth used for clothes and interiors – think materials, textures, colours, patterns. Undergrads will have access to workshops dedicated to dyeing and manual printing, as well as opportunities to use modern technologies, such as image-manipulation software and digital embroidery machines. Much like fashion students, you’ll be taught about the key historical movements that have shaped textile design.

Fashion graph

How you’ll learn

Aside from honing practical skills required to work with a variety of materials and techniques, you’ll carry out visual research and generate original ideas. You’ll be expected to evaluate and reflect critically on your work, placing it in a historical and cultural context. There’ll be seminars and lectures to attend, and lots of studio time.

Finding paid work in the fashion industry isn’t easy, which is why universities require students to complete work placements before graduating. Such experience can enable students to develop a commercial awareness – and build their interpersonal and presentation skills. Many courses are taught by current designers or textile practitioners who can offer advice on building networks of contacts and self-promotion.

What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements vary. Useful subjects include English, maths, art, design and technology and textiles at A-level or equivalent. A foundation diploma in art and design may also help your application.

What job can I get?

Forging a career in fashion and textiles is tough, but there are options out there. You could become a designer for men’s or women’s wear, a stylist, illustrator, in-house designer, journalist or teacher. Many graduates work in the retail fashion industry, as buyers, merchandisers or managers. Some have portfolio careers, working for a range of clients. Setting up a fashion label is also an option.

Some textile graduates work as textile technologists (quality-controlling textiles), textile designers or assistant designers. They may specialise in colour and fabric prediction work.

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