Not only is our 2-year Fashion Diploma accredited with the prestigious City & Guild in London, but Xela Fashion College prides itself on offering a course of study in fashion design with a strong foundation. On a recent Careers Day roadshow, a student told us she wanted to be a “fashion constructor”. Now we have been in the business for 27 years but this was a new term even for us! When we explained that our 2-year course included Pattern Cutting and Technical Drawing, the student replied that she wasn’t interested in those subjects. Principal and fashion designer Alex Asman explained that both subjects are vital for anyone serious about being a fashion designer and running their own business. They are the vital building blocks to a successful fashion career. There is a misconception that fashion designers simply sit around sketching fabulous garments for celebrities. Not so!

imagesAsman says that fashion design is the one profession that has an international language everyone can speak as it’s so visual; and that the process from having an idea in your head to seeing your garment on someone’s body has a series of vital steps that the designer needs to be part of.

It all starts with the fashion illustration, which sets the feeling and mood of the garment, using storyboards, sketches and fabric swatches. This must then be passed onto technical drawing, where the proportions, style and fit elements are introduced. From here the technical drawing with all the specifications is passed onto the pattern cuttern, who will make up the pattern for the garment. The final step is the garment manufacturer receiving the pattern and making up the outfit. Theoretically speaking, the designer could give their sketches to a  fashion illustrator in South Africa who would then send their drawing to a technical drawer in China, who would then send their technical drawing to a pattern cutter in Russia. The pattern cutter sends the finished pattern to the garment manufacturer in Argentina and the finished garment is finally sent back to the original illustrator in South Africa Рtheir design on paper has now become a beautiful garment. Now imagine if the designer had no knowledge of pattern cutting, garment manufacture or even the types of fabric available. The finished garment could look completely different to what the designer envisaged!

Most fashion designers are entrepreneurs running their own business. Without the knowledge of fashion illustration, technical drawing and pattern cutting, they would have to rely on outsourcing (a costly exercise as everyone needs to be paid) and it may well be that the finished product looks nothing like they had envisaged, or the fabric didn’t work for the style etc, because they were not part of the process and did not have the technical knowledge.

We know that our First Years sometimes find this part of the course boring, but in the long run we know they will thank us! It’s this attention to detail that gives our students an advantage when they venture out into into their own businesses. It’s also one of the reasons we include Business Skills and Marketing for our Second Years. We give them a thorough understanding of the ins-and-outs of running a successful business. There is no such thing as overnight success and starting out with strong practical skills and knowledge is the best way to begin.


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