What I’ve Learned From Fashion School & The Industry

First, I want to address the amount of people who found out I was going to fashion school in LA and automatically assumed I intend to be a fashion designer. I guess it’s easy to draw that conclusion of fashion industry=fashion design, but no. I never had the desire to physically make clothing; I just liked being around clothing and love piecing things together for myself and for others. It took me a while to discover that it was possible to merge my love of fashion into a career that didn’t involve designing clothes. I majored in Visual Communication in order to become a wardrobe stylist, visual merchandiser, social media marketing director, fashion pr specialist, or creative director for a company. Many careers fall underneath that umbrella, but those are just some of my desired careers.

At FIDM, where I attended, the class schedule differs quite a bit from the typical college or university. Each class meets three hours at a time, once a week, for ten weeks total. So as you can imagine, there is a lot of homework/in class work and deadlines to meet. FIDM runs on the quarter system which means an entire semester’s worth of work, studying and projects are crammed into ten week increments. It gets intense. One project could take you an entire day, 2 days or 3 hours – there’s no estimating and theres no rushing. You’ll want to work as diligently as possible and you’ll want your work to be of great quality because your very last quarter you will generate a portfolio, which you will be presenting to industry professionals (it’s serious.)

The FIDM library has every issue of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar from the 1920s, which is amazing and uncommon for most fashion schools. I loved flipping through the pages and getting inspiration that I wasn’t able to find being on my smartphone.

As a VCOMM student, I learned how to trend forecast, sketch out living and retail spaces to scale, learn the theories of color & design, how to effectively use the Adobe Creative Cloud such as Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, space plan (drafting techniques), design my own store concept and merchandising directive, create my own store space using a software called SketchUp, conduct my own concept and product from an entrepreneurial standpoint, make a hand bag, make a set for a movie, and design/install window displays, and much more. All of that is possible while completing an internship (yes, you will work for free!)

Most think fashion school and working in the fashion industry are glamorous. To be honest, there’s a lot of sweat and tears that go into it. If you notice, it’s not the stylist, the buyer, the editor, the prop/set designer, space planner that appear glamorous; it’s the talent or celebrity/model themselves. People only see what is on the surface, and oftentimes forget about the people who are operating behind the scenes chasing their individual dreams.

Other things I have learned at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising are the proper ways to balance my books, FIDM tote bag, projects, coffee and exposing my student ID to the guard all while teetering on a platform shoe to always plan enough time to walk around whatever movie may be filming in the campus park. DO NOT procrastinate aka don’t try and print something that is due that day before that class because 9 times out of 10 the printer will take a poop on you, toner will be low, or the line to print will be hella long….; I know that is so cliche to say, but trust me on this, you won’t want to procrastinate. It is easy to fall behind and because you only meet for class once a week, you’ll want to stay on top of everything. Also, "Have you ever seen Lauren Conrad?" is the first question everyone asks when I said I attend FIDM. No, but I went to FIDM with Amanda Bynes and rode the elevator with her many times. Along with all of the above, I learned how to live in such a different environment from what I was use to. So many different people and cultures and the expenses, etc., so adapting to a totally different lifestyle was also a HUGE part of my experience.

I love fashion tremendously and having the opportunity to attend one of the best institute’s in the country was very humbling and rewarding. There was times I cried from the work load, and then times I laughed because I stressed over nothing and most of the time I smiled because I knew how fortunate I was to be attending my dream school and living in my favorite place in California. The people I met along the way are amazing as well. Everything I learned within a year enabled me to have the opportunities I have now in my career path. FIDM has a great alumni association and career connections all over the U.S. I encourage anyone who shares this passion with me and wishes to attend fashion school, please do not hesitate to reach out for more info//details/questions, it’s never too late. IT’S WORTH IT, YOUR DREAM IS WORTH IT.

Xx, Lex

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