Do I Need A Fashion Degree to Start a Fashion Brand?

There are, no doubt, benefits to higher education. It can jump start creative ideas, improve your resume, and build a strong network of like-minded people. All in a structured environment. 

That said, here’s a surprising and inspiring fact for you. Almost 40% of all working designers do NOT have a formal degree in fashion. In fact, in our long history at Teg, we’ve had the honor and pleasure to work with quite a few successful designers that were actually self-educated.

So if your life doesn’t allow you the luxury of going to school right now, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to give up on your dream of creating your own fashion brand. In this article we’ll show you how to build your own DIY fashion education and to create the structure you need to learn. 

Take advantage of Free Education Online

Thanks to the internet, getting a free education is easier than ever. With a simple google search, you will find many articles and websites that are totally free and will provide you with a wealth of information. Including valuable lessons you might otherwise pay tuition to learn!

What’s more, there’s free education about any aspect of the fashion industry that may interest you. The myriad of industry subjects range from pattern making and technical design to fabric selection and merchandising a collection. In fact, a simple YouTube search of “Clothing Design Tutorials” yielded page upon page of videos based on those keywords alone. 

Of course, here at Teg, we too are big fans of free education. We’ve learned a lot in our 18-year-plus history and are happy to share it all with you. As one of your first steps into your free fashion education journey, we recommend you take a deep dive into our website,; you’ll find there’s so much to learn.

Become a “Student of Fashion”

Next, there is the knowledge you create for yourself. Allow us to explain. We are sure there are brands and designers out there that you admire. Once you’ve identified these talented people, then the next step is to learn everything you can about them.

Ask yourself some pointed questions about your favorite designers and their brands:

  • What is their history?
  • What is their inspiration?
  • What do they do consistently, season after season?
  • How do they stand out from others in their particular fashion category?
  • And, most importantly, what do you love about them?

How they got to where they are today may seem like a mystery to you, but we promise, if you dig in, you’ll see there is nothing mysterious about it. The route from point A to CDFA is a pretty linear one.

This is how you become a “student of fashion.” Not in the go-to-school kind of way, but in the life-long learner kind of way. 

Find a Work/Learn Opportunity

There are quite a few places you can learn about fashion and the business of fashion. Many successful business owners started their journey by “learning on the job.” It’s definitely a viable way to learn about the industry, and spread your creative wings.

You don’t have to work for another designer (although if you do find a job like that, jump on it!) There are many other opportunities to learn as you work.

Options include:

  • Working at a boutique or department store
  • Working for a fabric vendor or other related business
  • Taking an administrative job at a fashion school
  • Working in a related creative field such as interior design or graphic design

Don’t hide your dream under a bushel. Share your passion with others. There may be someone in your network of family and friends that has a lead on a fashion industry job. And don’t forget to use social media to your job search advantage. Be sure to keep your mind open, because the perfect opportunity might not be where you expect. 

Be creative in your search and be willing to start on the ground floor. Look at it this way, you could get paid to get an education, instead of you paying tuition to a school. It’s a win-win, right?

Practice Your Craft

The next step is to take some of that free knowledge and start putting it into practice. It doesn’t matter one bit if you are perfect at it or not. Just start doing it!

For example, you could try your hand at sketching a garment. Then once you have your sketch where you want it, start imagining the fabrics. Even if you can’t afford the best, buy something that is close to your ideal.

Get yourself in front of a sewing machine. Borrow one if you have to, or find a quality used machine on Craigslist. Again, it doesn’t need to be perfect; just workable. And start sewing. 

Do this over and over again. Design more, sew more. The goal here is not to turn you into a seamstress (unless that is your choice), but to get you comfortable with designing and creating your own work. This is how you learn, by doing. And don’t forget, practice makes perfect!

Create Your Own Structure

It’s long been known that people learn best with a structure for learning in place. In the case of a DIY education, you will be responsible for creating your own.

Put aside a specific time every day to learn something new about our wonderful industry and to practice your craft. Let your family and friends know that you will not be available during that time and turn off any unwanted distractions. 

Set goals for yourself and keep a study journal/sketchbook to track your progress. While you can find study journal templates for free online, make your journal personal to you. Some people absorb information better if they hand write it instead of typing; an option worth considering for your journal.

However you go about tracking your progress, be deliberate about your fashion education, just like you were going to school for it. Because, guess what? You are.

Passion Is Everything

We are going to let you in on a little secret here. The fashion industry is not as hard to break into as it appears from the outside looking in. When you look at it in the pages of a magazine, or on tv, or in social media, it looks like a very elite world open to a select few. 

Well, that’s simply not true. And a “formal” education is not always the key to opening the door. The fashion industry opens its doors to passion. If you’re passionate about the industry – be it the creative side, the technical side or even the retail side – you’ve got fifty percent of what you need. The other fifty percent is knowledge. 

At Teg, many of our clients have come to us knowing very little about the industry we all love so much. Once you jump on in, you’ll find there’s no better fashion education than the “learn by doing” kind. Feel free to reach out to us at or call us at 800-916-0910. We’d love to share what we know with you.

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