The fashion industry is undoubtedly one of the biggest industries all over the world right now. After all, everyone in the world needs clothes to live, and for a lot of us, we express ourselves through clothing, so we get creative at times. Because of this, it makes sense that buying clothes and other accessories will never go out as style, thus explaining why the fashion industry is a billion-dollar one.
Since the fashion industry has proven to be a lucrative one, a lot of people have expressed their desire to work there. Oftentimes, it’s not even just about the profitability of the industry — rather, it’s about the passion for fashion that some people have. But though you’re interested in working for fashion because you’re passionate, you might be wondering which field you’d like to be in.
For an industry as big as fashion, there is obviously a wide array of fields under it. And two of the most prominent ones are fashion design and fashion technology.
But what is the difference between fashion design and fashion technology? Can’t you just choose whichever and be contented with it? To help you in your confusion, this article will tackle the differences between these two fields. That way, you’ll be able to determine which of the two fits the best for you.
What Is Fashion Design?
Definition of Fashion Design
Essentially speaking, fashion design is the art of applying design, aesthetics, and natural beauty to clothing and its accessories. This field is generally believed to have begun in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth as he was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments that he created. And since its conception, fashion design has continued to evolve, and as of right now, modern fashion design is divided into three primary categories: haute couture, mass market, and mass market.
To begin with, haute couture, a French term that translates to “high sewing/dressmaking” or “high fashion” in English, is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. In other words, the haute couture creations are constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high-quality, expensive, and often unusual fabric, and sewn with extreme attention to detail.
Meanwhile, mass-market fashion is the total opposite of haute couture. Mass-market clothes are catered to a wide range of customers and are usually created with cheaper fabrics and simpler production techniques. That is why the end products for this kind of fashion are sold much more cheaply.
And finally, the last category is ready-to-wear, which is essentially just a cross between haute couture and mass market. From the name itself, ready-to-wear refers to the factory-made clothing that is sold in finished condition in standardized sizes. Ready-to-wear clothes are not made for individual customers, but they are still sold in small quantities to guarantee exclusivity, making them more expensive to buy.
What Do Fashion Designers Do?
Understandably, the first answer that anyone will think of when asked by this question is: “fashion designers design clothes — obviously.” And that is true — designing is essentially the primary tasks that fashion designers do. But one thing that people forget to consider is the fact that fashion designers do a lot beyond just designing.
It’s been mentioned that fashion has evolved since its beginnings in the 19th century — or even before that. This means that over time, it has been influenced by cultural and social attitudes, which are actually quite fickle. Cultural and social attitudes change so often, and if fashion is influenced by them, then designers have to look into them in order to catch up.
What this means is that fashion designers always conduct research on fashion trends, and then they interpret these trends for their audience. Additionally, when creating the clothes, designers have to make sure that they’re not just aesthetically pleasing. They have to make sure that the clothes are functional as well. All in all, fashion designers need to put a lot of effort into creating clothes. That is why fashion design is considered as an art form after all.
Fashion Design Education
Because fashion design requires so much effort and skill, it is highly recommended for aspiring fashion designers to take an education in this field. Thankfully, there are a lot of programs out there for fashion design, so this problem will be easily taken care of.
To begin with, aspiring fashion designers can take a certificate program or an associate’s degree if they’re a little unsure of this. A certificate program usually takes about one year of study while an associate’s degree takes about two years. In these two, students get to learn fundamental and technical skills like tailoring, sewing, and basic fashion theories.
If the students want to pursue further education, they can take up a bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years of study. And if they want to pursue their education even further, they can choose to take up a master’s degree or a doctorate.
The education in a bachelor’s degree — and by extension, a master’s and a doctorate — is much more in-depth than in a certificate program or an associate’s degree. Of course, the curriculum depends on the school you’re going to, but there are some classes that fashion schools all share. These classes that fashion design schools all teach their students are the following:
- Art and fashion history
- Collection and concept development
- Digital colour and design theory
- Computer-aided fashion design
- Fashion illustration
- Costume design
- Fashion Merchandising
- Fashion sketching
- Computer Patternmaking
- Portfolio preparation
- Principles of design
- Professional practices
- Sewing and garment construction
- Studio courses
- Textiles and fabrics
What Is Fashion Technology?
Definition of Fashion Technology
In a way, fashion technology is closely related to fashion design. Fashion technology is described as the field that primarily focuses on the study of fabric types and suitability. It deals with examining various kinds of fabric and then choosing the appropriate fabric for the final product.
Basically, fashion technology shares similarities with fashion design —particularly in the study of design and aesthetics — but just with a more technical bent. Unlike fashion design that has a core focus on the designing aspects, fashion technology deals with the core garment manufacturing technology. In other words, fashion technology is more involved in apparel production.
What Do Fashion Technologists Do?
As the definition of fashion technology suggests, fashion technologists — more commonly known as clothing/textile technologists — work with fabrics. They study a variety of them, both man-made and natural fibres, including but not limited to leather, fur, metals, and plastics. They will also source fabrics or textiles that are fit for purpose and carry out quality control tests.
Basically, clothing technologists work on the development of products, improving production efficiency and quality, while also developing connections with those involved in the production process.
To get an even better look of what clothing technologists do, here is a list of the most common tasks that they do:
- Developing manmade fibres and quality assessing natural fibres
- Spinning fibres into yarn and knitting or weaving yarn into fabrics
- Producing non-woven materials
- Identifying the latest fabric trends, developments, and innovations,
- Overseeing the dyeing, printing, and finishing processes
- Ensuring quality in areas such as strength, durability, colorfastness, and water and chemical resistance
- Advising commercial colleagues on technical aspects of the business
- Connecting with designers and adapting designs to suit production methods
- Making and sizing pre-production garments
- Sourcing fabrics and accessories
- Undertaking quality evaluations of materials and of the final product
- Responding to product queries, including complaints from wholesalers and customers
- Undertaking research to find new ways of using yarns
- Developing chemicals that may be added to fabrics so as to make them more waterproof, flame-resistant, or shrink-resistant
- Experimenting with textiles to improve their look, feel, and durability
Fashion Technology Education
Since fashion technology deals with a lot of technical aspects of fashion, studying the field for a few years is highly recommended. And luckily, just like fashion design, fashion technology comes with a lot of programs. You can take up education in this field with a certificate program, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s, or even a master’s or a doctorate. The choice will depend on you.
The curriculum for fashion technology will vary from school to school. But to some extent, all schools do share a few course subjects. These subjects are as follows:
- Apparel Production Planning and Control
- Fabric Manufacturing
- Fashion Illustration
- Garment Construction
- Industrial Engineering in Apparel Industry
- Design Concepts
- Fashion Accessories and Costumes
- Fashion Model Drawing
- Knitting Technology
Related article: Fashion School and Career Guide for Students
Conclusion: Which Is Better — Fashion Design or Fashion Technology?
So, now that we’ve differentiated fashion design from fashion technology, you’re probably wondering: which is the better choice? To make the decision-making process easier for you, it’s better if we compare these two fields side by side:
The art of applying design, aesthetics, and natural beauty to clothing and its accessories
The field that primarily focuses on the study of fabric types and suitability. Additionally, it covers the manufacturing process and involves a wide usage of technology in apparel production.
More creative and artistic
More technical and technological
Must have studied physics, chemistry, and maths at 10 + 2 level
Spectrum of Tasks
As you can see, both fashion design and fashion technology overlap a few similarities but divert in a few differences. If we have to choose which one is better, we might choose fashion technology, simply because it covers a whole lot more. It may focus more on the technical side of fashion, but it does also touch on the designing part. In other words, fashion technology will allow you to become fashion designers, but fashion design won’t allow you to become fashion technologists.
But even though fashion technology covers a wider range of study, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for you. At the end of the day, the choice will boil down on your preferences and goals. Sure, you’re interested in fashion, but what aspect of fashion are you really interested in? Are you more interested in the creation of clothing part? Or are you more interested in examining fabrics and textiles? In other words, in terms of fashion, are you more creative, or are you more technical?
Answering that question should help you in your dilemma. And besides, both fashion design and fashion technology are great, so it won’t really hurt you whatever you’ll choose eventually. They’re both still under the industry of fashion, a field that you’re passionate about. No matter what you’ll choose in the end, you will still get to live your fashion dreams.