Not So Chic: Life of an NYC Fashion Design Student 👗👔✂️

“As you know in fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day, you’re out,” is the phrase by fashion icon Heidi Klum that has drawn just as many aspiring designers to NYC, as it has scared away. However, fashion design isn’t a fraction as glamorous that pop culture has depicted it.

There are, though, those who are brave enough to endure the demanding profession, and they are right here in NYC. And while the city is home to some of the most established designers, a lot of the talent is still behind the scenes in some of the city’s highly-acclaimed Fashion Design college programs.

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Located in the heart of Chelsea, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is home to one of the globes most prestigious creative programs. It has churned out some of the most iconic names in American fashion including Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Reem Acra.

However, the likelihood of making it that big is astronomically slim, and with a dropout rate of over 60%, the program is not for the faint of heart.

The program, however, holds a bit of mystery, and those who are interested in the life of a fashion design student are often confused with what it entails.

Well, in 2017 I received my associate's degree in Fashion Design from FIT, and am fully prepared to inform those who are curious about what my life looked like during my time as a fashion design student.

So wonder no more because here is your official look into a typical day in the life of an NYC fashion design student. 👀

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8 - 8:30 AM: Up and at ‘em!

If you thought design students wake up at our leisure and stroll into class with lattes in hand you could not be more wrong. Class schedules usually span Monday through Friday and start nice n’ early to fit in a long list of required courses.

The idea that fashion design students always dress to the 9’s could not be any more of a false stereotype. You’re tired from lack of sleep, and honor every moment sleep you can get. If that means rolling out of bed and (shamelessly) going to class in the sweats, you probably slept in then so be it.

With about 20 lbs of supplies in each arm, you’re out the door with enough time to get to class a good 15 minutes early and get a jump on setting up our dress forms. Did you think I forgot about breakfast? Don’t worry, I didn’t; there’s just no time for it.

9 - 10:30 AM: The first of several classes has begun, and so has the stress for the day.

Your first class is usually either an apparel construction class, an art design class, a CAD class, or a liberal art elective. It all comes to about seven to ten, two to four-hour classes per week, and you’re usually taking the maximum allowed credit hours.

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10:30 - 10:45 AM: Because most classes are lab classes, you can leave the room when necessary, and with it now being a good 14 hours since your last meal, that means it’s time for some food and caffeine.

If you’re thinking we go to Starbucks, think again. With most money going to supplies and fabric, ain’t nobody got time for a $5 sixteen ounce coffee, so it’s off to the corner deli.

10:45 - 12 PM: After wolfing down a quick snack, and with some liquid energy in our systems now, it’s back to finish class numero uno.


12 - 1:45 PM: Sure that first class may have finished at 12, but if you want to have only four instead of six hours of homework that night, you stay until you feel you made progress.

Trust me, a disgruntled professor coming over and saying “this is all wrong you need to start over” happens more than you may think.

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2 - 3:30 PM: Class number two is well underway, but at this point, you’ve realized you’ve forgotten something you need for your NEXT class. Also, you’re hungry, and you’re tired — it’s time for a quick break.

3:30 - 3:45 PM: It’s a quick dash to your dorm room to grab that forgotten ruler and pair of fabric shears, as well as a quick snack to maintain necessary human function.  

3:45 - 5 PM: You powered through your second class, and while you SHOULD stay and continue working on what’s probably a 15-page, fully-photoshopped portfolio project, you decide it’s time for a PROPER meal.

Now at this point, you may be wondering why not just skip the night class if you’re THAT tired, and while that sounds lovely, FIT has a mandatory attendance policy.

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5 - 6 PM: Otherwise known as power hour, this is the one hour where you can either take a nap, eat and re-caffeinate, or split it up between the two.

While other students are going home to relax (because no one ever CHOOSES to take a night class), you make this one hour of freedom a chance to mentally and physically rest. After all, you’re gonna need it for the night ahead.

6 - 8 PM: Night classes can lowkey be the best because if you have a sane professor, they want to be there just as much as you do, which means you usually get out one to two hours early.

At this point in the day, your body is functioning, but your mind? Not so much.

8:15 PM - into the AM: The next several hours are always a mystery for fashion design students. While most students have a set routine that may look like: “homework, dinner, then relax,” fashion design students’ lives REVOLVE around homework.

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Some nights you may have to go right from class and work through the night, or other nights you may be able to have a chill dinner first, and then get to work.

There are those RARE nights where you could get away with some procrastination; however, that’s rare. Most of the time, there’s no time to just “chill,” so it’s usually a quick dinner, then off to the sewing studios.

Sounds like fun right? Well if you truly love fashion design, then it’s just a labor of love. You have to LOVE the idea of creating beautiful clothes, and pushing through every all-nighter, sewing machine malfunction, and every “it’s time to start over.”

viewfromthestreet Definitely not creepy at all to be the only person in this room.

So if you have the desire to pursue a career in fashion design, and it sounds like you can endure the testing nature of the learning process behind it, what are you waiting for?

[Feature Image Courtesy via Susan Sermoneta] 

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