KCAD’s Pamella Roland DeVos School of Fashion prepares students to pursue careers in the fashion industry through its BFA in Fashion Studies. This degree is designed to engage the student in the study of the fashion industry and practices while fulfilling supportive studios in art and design foundation courses and general education courses for a comprehensive well-rounded education.
Students learn to conduct relevant research, source trends and fabrics and apply design elements and principles to create work with a unique point of view. This course of study will aid the student in understanding the delicate balance between aesthetics and functionality and will allow each student to create their own design statement. Students learn to express their ideas on paper through the use of engineered flats and fashion illustrations. Using their design communication skills, students transform two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional wearable garments utilizing a synthesis of construction, fitting, pattern-making and draping skills.
Specialized courses allow students to study functional design, retail buying, sustainability, experimental methods and fashion show production. Internships are encouraged and students are able to work on team projects with visiting industry professionals.
A senior capstone course helps each student form their own collection for public exhibition. The senior course in professional practice requires the student to analyze their strengths and research companies that align with those identified strengths to develop a strategic plan for employment. These students are creative, adaptable, and have the ability to communicate and think critically.
Fashion Studies graduates will have a comprehensive knowledge of the fashion industry and be able to consider positions as fashion designers, textile designers, stylists, buyers, technical designers, trend researchers, product developers, creative directors and many other employment opportunities including fashion publications and media.
As a student in the Fashion Studies program in KCAD’s Pamella Roland DeVos School of Fashion, you’ll engage in a broad and immersive study of fashion that explores traditional and emerging design and construction techniques, couture methods, sustainable practices, fashion illustration, product development, and the organization and execution of exhibition and runway events.
You’ll learn to transform two dimensional ideas into the three dimensional. At the same time, you’ll also be investigating the realities of the fashion industry through specialized courses in functional design, retail buying, and fashion show production. Your senior year offers options: complete your final year at KCAD, developing and publicly presenting an original collection of garment designs through a senior capstone course and fashion show that will allow you to discover and express your own design identity. Or, you can apply to spend your senior year studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.
You’ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education and art history courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD’s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.
As you progress through the Fashion Studies program, you’ll develop a heightened ability to conduct relevant research; identify trends in color, fabric, and silhouette; and apply design elements and principles to create work with a unique point of view that balances aesthetics and functionality. You’ll learn to express your design ideas on paper through fashion illustrations and engineered flats before ultimately bringing them to life through a synthesis of design, construction, fitting, pattern-making, and draping skills.
Your intensive classroom experiences will cultivate strong critical thinking, communication, and design skills, while collaborative projects will help you develop stronger ideas, processes, and people skills in real-world settings. You’ll also understand how to plan out and manage the logistics of a runway fashion event.
The Fashion Studies program extends KCAD’s legacy of leadership in design education into the world of fashion. While earning a BFA degree that will add strength to your résumé, you’ll receive a specialized design education with a well-rounded general education. This strong foundation ensures that you’re not left to “sink or swim” on your own; you’re set up to succeed.
With the versatile skill set and strong portfolio you’ll build at KCAD, you’ll be an excellent candidate to take advantage of the option to study away at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. The program’s unique curriculum structure allows you to spend the first three years in the program at KCAD before applying to FIT, where you’ll complete your final year if accepted. You’ll be immersed in the epicenter of American fashion, opening up a world of opportunity for you, exposing you to resources, cultural institutions, and environments that will help you realize your aspirations.
Spend your senior year at KCAD, and you’ll study couture and innovative methods, sustainable fashion, and create your own capstone collection to be shown at the annual fashion show.
At KCAD, you’ll not only develop strong design and communication skills; you’ll put them to the test through collaborative projects with community organizations, such as designing costumes for the Grand Rapids Ballet or working with Spectrum Health to develop special compression garments for children with neuromuscular diseases. Show off your styling skills while creating a digital portfolio of your brand as you step into your career in the exciting fashion industry.
As a graduate of the Fashion Studies program, you’ll emerge with a dynamic skill set and a comprehensive knowledge of the fashion industry that will allow you to consider a career as a fashion designer, textile designer, costume designer, construction specialist, visual merchandiser, stylist, buyer, technical designer, trend researcher, pattern maker, product developer, fashion writer, or creative director, among many other opportunities.
As a student in the Fashion Studies program, you’ll have access to faculty who have worked in the industry, as well as well-appointed classroom spaces featuring industry machines, cutting tools, and large work surfaces. You’ll also be able to leverage KCAD’s Material ConneXion Satellite Library, which offers direct access to more than 1,000 physical samples of advanced, innovative, and sustainable materials as well as online access to over 7,000 more; and The Dow Center FlexLab, KCAD’s state-of-the-art digital fabrication facility featuring 3D printers and scanners, laser cutting and vinyl cutting machines, wide format printers, and more.
You’ll have abundant opportunities to interact with industry professionals who visit the KCAD campus and West Michigan. Past visiting professionals include Council of Fashion Designers of America CEO Steven Kolb, fashion designers Adam Lippes and Matt Baldwin, Detroit Garment Group Director Karen Buscemi, fashion stylists Grace Kelly and Lynn Serulla, costume designers Bernadine Vida and KCAD alumna Christy Juhnke, and the Iris van Herpen design team.
You’ll also benefit from access to industry interactions, guest speakers, design forums, and other events hosted by Design West Michigan, a KCAD organization that explores and advocates for design as an economic building block in the region.
Ready to get started? Apply now!
The process of drawing as observation and conceptualization through eye-hand coordination. Emphasizes linear construction with concern for accurate proportion and simple positive-negative/figure-ground relationships. Includes an in-depth study of linear perspective. (Students who have earned FSU credit for VISC 112 Drawing I, may not use credit earned in KCDR 131 to meet graduation requirements.
Emphasis on development of convincing illusion of three-dimensional objects, through the combined use of line, value, proportion, and composition. This course focuses on the further refinement of the concepts, processes, and techniques introduced in Drawing I. Expanded exploration of perspective, composition, color investigation, media exploration, and idea development within traditional subject matter will be emphasized.
To explore the elements, principles and aesthetic concepts integral to three-dimensional design and to consider relationships between concept, process, materials, tools and technical skills. (Students who have earned credit for ARTS 120, 3-D Design, may not use credit earned in KCSF 11 to meet graduation requirements.)
This course focuses on gesture drawing, rapid visualization skills, movement and expressive content, composition, structure, skeletal anatomy, and engaging in critiques.
An introduction to the visual and verbal vocabularies of design and color theory as they relate to graphic design.
An introduction to the computer as a design tool using the industry standards in page layout and digital illustration, and photo manipulation software, the Adobe Creative Suite. File transport (PDF) and font management software will also be introduced.
Students will be exposed to the full range of design disciplines, their history of development, how they interact, differ, converge and lead to change in accommodating new needs. Students will explore design principles and processes, including product innovation and development, sustainability, form and function, and discover how design is an asset to the economy and works with business.
An introduction to the language, materials, and trends of fashion with an integrated overview. Includes concept development, sketching, and studio production.
Provides a solid foundation in fashion concept, design, and garment construction. Includes development of basic pattern blocks, introduction to draping techniques, and finishing methods.
Continues development of fashion concept, design, and garment construction. It reinforces core competency in pattern-making, draping, and construction techniques.
An advanced course in fashion design, construction, and presentation culminating in the creation and presentation of a fashion collection and portfolio.
Students will advance their illustration skills and use software to recreate the illustration process using digital components.
Students will use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and/or other software to recreate the design and illustration processes using digital components.
This course integrates design and construction skills placing a special focus on sustainability in garment production. Emphasis will be placed on the application of fabric and construction for garments utilizing reduce, reuse, recycle principles in creating an environmentally-friendly apparel line.
This course integrates design and construction skills placing a special focus on innovative techniques in apparel design. Emphasis will be placed on specialized fabric applications and construction for garments utilizing technology.
This course integrates design and construction skills to thematic fashion design problems. Emphasis will be placed on the student developing and articulating their personal design aesthetic and voice.
This course is an introduction to retail buying and its opportunities for the purposes of career planning and preparation. It includes an understanding of the retail industry structure, decision making for retail and the development and implementation of promotional strategies and sales forecasting.
This is a capstone course that explores the responsibilities, ethics and evaluation of a professional in fashion studies. It includes resource identification, information retrieval, development of professional representation and communication with established industry professionals to create a resource network.
This course integrates design and construction skills placing a special focus on sustainability in garment production. Emphasis will be placed on the application of fabric and contruction for garments utilizing reduce, reuse and recycle principles in creating a sustainable apparel line.
An overview of the Western Art tradition from prehistory through the Renaissance using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 110, Prehistoric through Middle Ages, may not use credit earned in KCAH 111 to meet graduation requirements.)
A survey of Western art from the Baroque to the present, this course will continue building upon the foundation of Western Art I; Prehistoric through the Renaissance, using a socio-cultural methodology in a chronological framework. (Students who have earned credit for ARTH 111, Renaissance through 20th Century, may not use credit earned in KCAH 112 to meet graduation requirements.)
A study of male and female fashion as an art form, related to the fine arts and reflective of the changing cultural and aesthetic values of Western history.
A seminar dealing with select topics in art history, theory, and/or criticism.
An indepth study of fine art and theory from 1960 to the present.
This course focuses on using writing to develop ideas, hone critical thinking skills, and express ideas clearly and appropriately according to audience and purpose. Students write in a variety of modes and spend a portion of the semester engaging in scholarly research. Students also develop their public speaking skills.
This course provides a core understanding of effective storytelling. It examines the ways in which storytellers-both past and present-craft, organize, and convey ideas to successfully impact audiences, doing so through both inquiry into established narratives, as well as students' own experiments with narrative forms.
This course examines what it means to be a member of a particular society and how individuals both form and are formed by society. It will provide students with a better understanding of the social and cultural worlds they inhabit.
This course is an inquiry into the nature and power of philosophy to transform the way we experience the world around us and understand our place within it. Through a selection of readings representing various philosophical traditions and perspectives, critical discussion, and writing, students will examine some of the great questions that have intrigues philosophers from antiquity to present.
Students will continue development of their fashion illustration skills. Coursework will include development of a unique set of figures and continue exploration with various media to create comprehensive and cohesive collections.
Download the catalog for the most recent course listings and prerequisites.
As a graduate of the Pamella Roland DeVos School of Fashion, your comprehensive knowledge of the fashion industry will enable you to consider a wide range of careers spanning design, research, marketing, product development, media, and retail.