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List of Major Fashion Design Colleges

by Laura Fletcher, studioD

Great fashion designers have come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from the seamstress/performer-turned-fashionista Coco Chanel to leatherworking apprentice-turned-style maven Guccio Gucci. Still, the majority of big names in fashion we know today have come out of a few major places, most notably design colleges with stellar reputations for nurturing top talent.

The United States

The French and Italians may have made fashion a multi-national business, but since World War II, Americans have made increasing efforts to put themselves at the forefront of fashion, producing stars like Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, and Anna Sui, among others. The two big engines of the U.S. fashion elite, according to web magazine "Fashionista," are two New York City colleges, Parsons – the New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Both schools list a host of top names in their alumni and offer outstanding internship and study abroad opportunities, and they co-host a fashion design competition each year in New York City. Other heavy-hitters in the U.S. fashion scene are Pratt Institute, also in New York, Savannah College of Art and Design, whose students exhibit work at New York Fashion Week, and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, which has close ties with the film industry.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to a cutting-edge fine arts scene and now a cutting-edge fashion scene. "Fashionista" considers Central St. Martins in London, where John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Stella McCartney studied, to be the best fashion school in the world. It ranks London’s Royal College of Art, which regularly places graduates in great fashion houses like Prada, Celine, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton, at No. 2. Not far behind at No. 4 is London’s Kingston University, whose alumni have nabbed top positions at Givenchy, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and YSL.


Paris is the world’s fashion capital, and students eager to study at the heart of it all should check out Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale. Ranked fifth in the world by "Fashionista," this prestigious school is affiliated with the organization that determines which fashion houses may be named couture houses and counts Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent in its alumni. Admission to be one of the college’s 240 students is competitive. In nearby Belgium, both La Cambre and the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts offer rigorous and innovative programs that are heavily subsidized by the Belgian government (read: affordable). Istituto Marangoni in fashion mecca Milan, Italy rounds out the "Fashionista" top ten. The school has sister campuses in Paris and London and boasts a 90 percent job placement rate. Domenico Dolce and Franco Moschino are famous graduates.

The Middle East and Asia

The Asian economy is booming, and the Middle East is opening up to democracy. These two up-and-coming regions of the world are also establishing their own world-class fashion schools. Alumni of Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, Japan first began showing their work in Paris in the 1960s, and since then the school has earned a global reputation for avant-garde, cutting-edge design. Fashionista ranks Bunka seventh amongst fashion colleges worldwide. Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, Israel is the only Middle Eastern school to crack "Fashionista"’s top 20. The affordable school teaches classes in English, is very affordable, and has a revered fashion design program.

About the Author

Laura Holland Fletcher has graduate level training in ESL, linguistics and the teaching of writing. She taught ESL and college writing for more than 10 years in both the US and Asia. She also writes for local and national magazines that cover legal, educational and social justice issues.

Photo Credits

  • Leonard Mc Lane/Digital Vision/Getty Images