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Designing a Fashion Career in Chicago

by Joe Cooper
Fashion Career Center Columnist

With a new Fashion Council, several major fashion design schools, and a mayor dedicated to the success of young designers, Chicago is truly a great place to study fashion and begin a career. It's the type of city where young students and designers can pursue careers in fashion in a variety of ways.

Your fashion career could take you anywhere in Illinois. You might find an internship at a local clothing manufacturer or fashion marketing company. You might win a student design contest. You might work on Chicago Fashion Week. There are a variety of opportunities if you are dedicated (and get educated) in Chicago.

Organic Fashion
Chicago is also home to many organic designers, like the creators of Threadless.com, a creative forum where anyone can submit t-shirt designs. The designs range from beautiful to hilarious, and visitors to the site can scroll through each original t-shirt design and even make purchases. The shop is located in Chicago, but the designs can be shipped anywhere.

The downtown scene is also going organic, and Chicago fashion shows are not found only on runways. For instance, the Hidden Pearl Café in downtown Chicago recently produced its own show for emerging designers. They plan to make it a quarterly event, dedicated to "the beauty of art and the adventure of fashion."

Learning the Business
Going to school in Chicago gives you access to all of these creative opportunities. And while you don't need a degree to be creative, you do need an education to learn the basics of fashion, from sewing and sketching to merchandising and marketing. Not to mention business savvy: starting a small business is a great career idea. The average profit margin for a small retail clothing business is around 16%, so learning how to produce and sell clothing is a big part of the fashion industry and a major focus in school.

More and more entry-level fashion jobs require a degree these days, too. Earning one in Illinois' greatest city, and one of the country's fashion hubs, is a great career idea.

Sources

  • The Student Life, "Feeling Crafty? Design Your Own Duds at Threadless.com"
  • Threadless.com

About the Author
Joe Cooper writes fashion and design articles and edits medical literature. He holds a bachelor's in American Literature from UCLA.