July 13, 2024

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Crafting Fashion Trends

A global insight into the costs of fashion schools

5 min read

Venturing into the world of fashion holds an irresistible allure, especially when setting sights on one of the pivotal hubs in this industry: Paris, New York, Milan, or London. These cities serve as the breeding grounds for the most iconic names in the fashion realm. But what financial investment is required to enter the top fashion schools, where visionary figures like Jimmy Choo, Tom Ford, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, and Yves Saint Laurent honed their craft? And is the investment worthwhile?

Rankings of top fashion schools in the world’s fashion capitals

To provide insights into the cost structure, FashionUnited started by pinpointing the leading fashion schools in the four key destinations: France, Italy, the US, and the UK. According to the latest rankings from CEOWORLD magazine, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York claimed the top position as the best fashion school globally for 2023. The London College of Fashion (LCF) at the University of the Arts London (UAL) secured the fourth spot in the global rankings, closely followed by Polimoda in Italy. Leading the way in France was ESMOD (Higher School of Fashion Arts and Techniques), which was positioned seventh on the prestigious list.

Best fashion schools in the world for 2023

1 Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) US
2 Parsons School of Design US
3 Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design US
4 London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London UK
5 Polimoda (Ente per le Arti applicate alla Moda e al Costume) Italy
6 Royal College of Art UK
7 ESMOD (École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode) France
8 Swedish School of Textiles – University of Borås Sweden
9 Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London UK
10 PCA – Paris College of Art France

Source: CEOWORLD magazine

Analysis of tuition fees and living expenses at top global institutions

To shed light on the complete financial commitment associated with attending some of the globe’s most esteemed fashion institutions, it was valuable to conduct an in-depth analysis encompassing not just the yearly tuition fees for both local and international students, but also the average living costs in these prominent fashion study destinations. This data aims to offer prospective students a comprehensive overview, aiding them in making well-informed decisions about where they can realistically pursue their fashion education.

Cost of studying fashion for local and international students.
Cost of studying fashion for local and international students. Credits: FashionUnited.

LCF in the UK stands as a significant financial commitment for international students, requiring annual tuition fees of 30,211 euros. Additionally, the average monthly living expenses for students in London vary between 316 and 590 euros per week, according to Kingston University. Meanwhile, for local students, New York, London, Florence and Paris present relatively similar financial requirements. New York ranks as the second most expensive option for international students, with local students paying tuition fees of 10,581 euros per year, while international students face fees of 21,623 euros annually. Next to this, the cost of living in the city is around 1,780 euros per month, according to University Living estimates, slightly more expensive than the one in Paris, which ranges between 1,150 euros to 1,720 euros per month. Here, ESMOD tends to have relatively higher tuition fees for local students than in New York, charging EU students an annual fee of 12,355 euros, which is lesser than for non-EU students, who pay 13,855 euros. Italy adopts a less economical approach, with a standard tuition fee of 18,000 euros per year for both undergraduate and master’s students, regardless of their nationality. However, the estimated cost of living in Florence is, in comparison, competitive, with rent, food, and transportation, falling between 800 euros and 1,300 euros per month.

Comparing the total monthly cost of studying fashion per location

When consolidating this information and translating it into an average monthly budget, one can gain a clearer understanding of the total expenses per university and per month in each destination for a student studying fashion.

Total cost of studying fashion per location.
Total cost of studying fashion per location. Credits: FashionUnited.

As depicted in the comparison, institutions like ESMOD in France and Polimoda in Italy maintain fee structures less sensitive to student status than the ones of their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. Besides, they are coupled with reasonable living costs in Paris and favourable ones in Florence. Conversely, the FIT in New York and LCF display fluctuating tuition fees for domestic and international students, alongside elevated living expenses in both cities. London appears notably steep for international students, while New York presents a comparatively affordable option. Ultimately, students need to balance financial considerations against the unique offerings of each institution and destinations to navigate their fashion education journey thoughtfully. Additionally, while exploring potential career prospects, FashionUnited has delved into the average salaries fashion designers can anticipate in these locations, offering a valuable lens for students to consider while charting their academic and professional path.

Investigating the ROI of a fashion degree: Unveiling salaries in the fashion design industry

Considering the significant financial commitment associated with pursuing a fashion degree, it would be interesting to evaluate the potential Return on Investment (ROI) of such an educational endeavour, by looking at the industry’s salaries. However, it is important to note that the information should be interpreted cautiously, given the challenges in obtaining precise salary data due to substantial variations among companies and the sensitive, confidential nature of such information. Government data in the UK indicates an average annual salary ranging from 23,239 euros for a beginner fashion designer to up to 46,479 euros for an experienced fashion designer. ESMOD suggests a salary range between 25,000 euros for novices and 48,000 euros for experienced designers in Paris. Payscale reports an average salary of 32,887 euros per year in Italy, while Indeed states that the average salary for a fashion designer in New York, NY, is 52,233 euros per year, based on 56 reported salaries as of December 12, 2023. The ROI for a fashion degree appears to vary across different countries, reflecting the diverse nature of the industry and its compensation structures.

While in some cities, stylists and designers may start with modest salaries, there is potential for significant growth with experience. Whichever the location, it’s crucial to recognize the significant role experience plays in achieving higher earnings, while also keeping an eye on the cost of living in each city. Ultimately, prospective fashion students should consider both the financial investment in their education and the potential returns, keeping in mind the dynamic and experience-driven nature of the industry. Especially since the analysis here takes into account the fashion designer role, while plenty of other professions can be considered after a degree in fashion.


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