CM’s Guide to the Textile and Apparel Major

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Want to be a fashion designer? Run a clothing store? Major in Textiles and Apparel and maybe one day you’ll work behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week.

What you’ll be doing 

You’ll learn how to predict the next season’s new trends, study marketing and advertising, work with numerous materials and create your own designs. Your first two years of college include numerous general education courses where you just have to meet all of your requirements for entry into upper-level classes. Courses vary from school to school but they all provide a general basis of learning and using same techniques. The different fields of textiles you can delve into include apparel marketing where you show off all things fashion and advertise the greatness of the product or design where you get to create your own masterpieces. After graduation, you’ll be able to professionally working with fibers or designing your own fashion pieces.

The classes you’ll take

Textile Fundamentals is a basic introductory course everyone takes no matter their specialty. You learn the 411 on all things textile processing, like fibers, filaments and fabric formation systems. Then, move on to fun courses like Apparel Production, which gives you the rundown on how to use industrial equipment to create clothing pieces. Ever wonder about the composition or molecules of fibers? Science textiles will give you the ins and outs of structures of fabric. Not many people like math courses, but you haven’t heard of Retail Finance and Merchandise Control. Yes, you still need to take math in fashion. This differs from your average math classes in that you’ll be using computer programs in a retail setting to do financial planning. Hey, at least it beats calculus.

Internships for this major

From fibers to fabrics to fashion, endless internships in the textiles and apparel world exist to let you try your hand in the trade. Have you seen all of those commercials about the touch, the feel, the fabric of our lives on TV? You can be a part of that. Cotton Incorporated offers internships in the Spring, Fall and Summer. Their opportunities in North Carolina and New York City give you experience in everything from dyeing and finish research to fashion merchandising. The Conservation Internship in San Francisco provides sessions in the Spring and Summer months. Honor, a luxury women’s designer brand located in the Big Apple, offers an internship where you’ll learn design, development, sampling and production within a fashion company.

Career Opportunities

1. Merchandise Buyer

Merchandise buyers purchase products for organizations to use or resell. They check quality of the product, evaluate the variety of suppliers and negotiate deals. You’ll work for retail and department stores nationwide.    

2. Fashion Consulting

Fashion Consultants, otherwise known as personal stylists, assist clients with choosing clothes for many different occasions. They choose what would flatter the client best and what suits them best for the event they attend. Everyone has always wanted a personal stylist.

3. Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create original pieces of clothing and accessories. They sketch, select fabrics and give instructions to pattern makers, tailors, and seamstresses along the way. Basically all of your Project Runway dreams will come true as long as you listen to Tim Gunn and, “Make it work!”

4. Retail Manager

Retail managers overlook everything that makes a store work. They have an abundance of responsibilities from inventory to working with the sales team. Imagine Miranda Priestly from the Devil Wears Prada but on a retail level.

5. Visual Merchandiser

You may know visual merchandisers as the ones who dress windows. Basically professional store window decorators. They need to catch the attention of people just making their way downtown and want them to buy the products.


“My time at the University of Northern Iowa proved incredibly valuable in terms of acquiring jobs and succeeding in the textiles and apparel industry. I have utilized and applied everything I learned to become a professional in the industry starting with my first job as a technical designer for an outdoor apparel company and recently switching to designing men’s apparel at a preppy southern apparel company. I am proud of the education I received at UNI as it has allowed me to explore several different facets of the apparel world and advance quickly in the industry.” – Kaitlin Juhl, Associate Apparel Designer at Southern Tide

“Our professors have us do a lot of group projects that incorporate actual aspects of the industry which makes them feel useful. Plus it’s fun because I’m passionate about the industry, so I’m actually learning things I care about.” – Rebekah Bell, senior, University of Missouri

“I like that some of my classes deal with societal issues and pop cultures. I also like that we can go back in history and see how we adopted trends from the past and keep recycling fashion.” – Ebony Cruse, senior, University of Missouri

I'm a sophomore majoring in Journalism at the University of Missouri. I survive on good coffee and broadway showtunes.

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