Fashion Design

“Faster than anything else, what we wear tells the story of who we are — or who we want to be.”
— Professor Frances Corner, OBE

In the world of personal branding and social media, the fashion industry is rapidly growing as an art form, high-end business venture, and commodity production for individual expression. With such growth comes a high demand for original designs and creative expression that connects with a global audience. In this course, learn the fundamentals of fashion design, branding, and garment construction. Beginning with a primary focus on fashion craft and creation, you’ll build skills in illustration, pattern and garment construction, and reading textiles. Using the principles of visual design — unity, balance, rhythm, and emphasis — investigate shape and form, and how form affects function. Learn how material, proportion, and scale affect the look, drape, and impact of a piece. As an integral part of a design team, create a signature look and collection tailored to client and event. As you craft your collection, you’ll look closely at the business of fashion design and what it takes to launch a career. Explore merchandising and styling at high-end fashion houses, meet with designers, and visit local Chicago boutiques before showcasing your final design.

All students will be required to bring a laptop.

Who Should Take This Course?

This course is best suited for students who are interested in design as well as garment and accessory construction and display. Students should be eager to incorporate artistic elements like color, texture, and shape with fashion design techniques like draping and pattern drafting to create beautiful garments. Previous fashion design or sewing experience is not required for this class.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Sarah Law, CEO, KARA Handbags
  • Gemma Sole, Co-founder, Nineteenth Amendment
  • Megan Balch + Jaime Barker, Co-founders, Flagpole Swimwear
  • Lauren Markt, Founder + Creative Director, Syl Markt
  • Kealan Roberto, Director of Operations, Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • The Chicago Fashion Industry

    Visit local studios and industry hotspots. With trips that include visiting the Magnificent Mile and event pop-ups across Chicago, further your exploration of fashion design outside the classroom in the vibrant fashion industry of Chicago.

  • Mood Board Concept

    Build a physical format mood board to help define the style of your collection through colors, textures, shapes, and images. Work with professional designers to get feedback and guidance on your concepts.

  • Garment Construction

    Learn to construct a garment including initial sketches, material selection, and draping on dress forms. Explore machine and hand sewing, as well as embellishments and accessories.

  • Fashion Merchandising + Branding

    Explore the elements of fashion merchandising including trend spotting, market research, and creating a campaign that will help sell your collection and build a brand. Discuss potential strategies and campaigns with industry professionals.

My fashion design class has taught me so much more than I could think of. I now know how to hand stitch, how to design, and how to sketch for different silhouettes. We started our mood boards in class just the other day and that was one of the highlights of my experience here. Just being able to visualize all the things you have had floating in your mind provides such immense satisfaction.

Advisors + Past Speakers

Sarah Law

CEO, KARA Handbags

Sarah Law founded and serves as a designer at KARA, which launched in 2013 as a line of handbags that quickly became popular with celebrities and Instagram personalities. Law’s is a typical startup story—she started KARA with her own money in her living room and was later invited to take part in the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Incubator, a program that helps to support and grow the next generation of great designers.

Gemma Sole

Co-founder, Nineteenth Amendment

Gemma Sole is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Nineteenth Amendment, a designer-direct fashion house, where you can shop for fashion from emerging designers who will create a look just for you on demand. Sole was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the category of eCommerce for her work with the website. Prior to starting Nineteenth Amendment, Sole was a strategy consultant at Booz Hamilton and venture capitalist.

Megan Balch + Jaime Barker

Co-founders, Flagpole Swimwear

Megan Balch and Jaime Barker co-founded the NYC-based swimwear line, Flagpole Swimwear. The line, named for the founders’ favorite West Palm Beach locale, features beautiful yet functional swimwear that “combines beach life with city style.” Balch and Barker met in high school and reconnected after college to launch their line.

Lauren Markt

Founder + Creative Director, Syl Markt

Lauren Markt is the founder and creative director of Chicago-based clothing line Syl Markt which intends to be an antithesis to the fast fashion dominating the market by working with artisans paid a fair wage, seeking out sustainable materials, excluding animal skins of any kind, and working to partner with other woman-owned businesses. Lauren previously worked in design, development, and production for Jenni Kayne, Haney, and Zac Posen. She studied Art History at UCLA and Fashion Design at Parson’s School of Design.

Kealan Roberto

Director of Operations, Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry

Kealan has been the Director of Operations at Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry for the past four years after her time at Carat in New York City. Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry specializes in unique custom jewelry design that tells a client’s story.