Apparel Design

Woman holding umbrella in fashion show

Apparel design is a creative and highly competitive profession. That's why St. Kate's apparel design major is rigorous and dedicated to teaching you the skills you need to stay a step ahead of the competition. You learn to transform inspiration into innovative designs; make clothes for real bodies, not just the dressmaker form; be innovative with all types of material; and respect sustainable practices because eco-fashion is a growing trend among consumers.

St. Kate's apparel design degree will prepare you for dynamic careers in the fashion industry, including as a custom clothing designer, personal stylist and costume designer.

Classroom to career

Our students are creative and excellent communicators with an eye for color and detail and a sense of balance and proportion. Studio art and writing-intensive courses are required, in addition to core coursework such as sewing and tailoring, patternmaking and fashion history. You'll learn Photoshop and Illustrator for design work.

Unique to St. Kate's

We meet you where you're at — you can join our apparel design program with no previous sewing experience and still excel. St. Kate's is the only university in the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities with two fashion majors: apparel design and fashion merchandising. Combine both, or pair each one with a St. Kate's major in small business/entrepreneurship or marketing/management — if you want to run your own business or retail shop.

Computer-aided design (CAD)

CAD is growing in popularity in today's fashion world. It allows designers and manufacturers to create virtual models of their clothing or product and play with different color and fabric choices, without spending too much time or money on the process. At St. Kate's, you learn how to use CAD software for technical specifications and estimating cost in fashion merchandising. If you double-major in apparel design, you'll also use CAD for sketching and patternmaking.

Study in London, Paris or NYC

St. Kate's partners with fashion schools around the world, like the London College of Fashion and Acadia Fashion Institute in Florence, to offer you challenging study-abroad programs. We also have exciting three-week, faculty-led courses in Boston and New York City or Paris, Florence and London. On these trips, you'll visit fashion exhibits and mingle with fashion and costume designers, magazine editors, and trend and color forecasters.

Stretch your skills

Service learning is infused into our program. In the advanced patternmaking class, students create outfits that can be worn or removed more easily for wheelchair-bound residents and those with limited mobility at Ebenezer Care Center in Minneapolis. Students in "Apparel Construction" make T-shirts for children and donate them to a local charity — learning, in the process, the essential skills of manipulating a knit fabric and how it differs from sewing on a woven fabric.

Do the Katwalk

You get to visualize, create and present a cohesive fashion collection for the runway. All apparel design seniors must present at St. Kate's annual Katwalk fashion show, recognized in Twin Cities fashion circles as an event to spot rising stars. After showing at Katwalk, alumna Stephanie Lesko's outfits were selected for other runway shows, including The Fashion Revolution in Milwaukee. Our students also handle set design, publicity and backstage management at Katwalk.

Innovative, ethical and eco-conscious

We want future designers to balance innovation and change with sustainability and responsibility. You study sustainability issues in fashion and apparel — such as upcycling, fair trade and ethical labor practices and sourcing products locally — starting in your first year. You also learn to extend the life of a garment by repurposing it or merging two pieces into a new one, and experiment with making clothes from Sun Chips bags and cereal boxes. Our students and alumnae are regular participants in the eco-friendly fashion shows in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Role models and mentors

Our faculty are influential in fashion circles and often spotted by local media at key fashion events. They win awards and are invited to present at national and international conferences. Associate Professor Trudy Landgren won the Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Business Award for Sustainable Design. Assistant Professor Anupama Pasricha spoke at the Consumer Citizen Network annual meeting in Berlin and the International Textiles and Apparel Association conference in Montreal. Assistant Professor Kelly Gage has presented to the Costume Society of America and the African Studies Association.

Thriving fashion scene

Minnesota is home to Project Runway contestants Katherine Gerdes, Christopher Straub, Danielle Everine and Ra'mon Lawrence-Coleman. You'll also find access to other local designers and creative inspiration at many independent boutiques in the Twin Cities. Faculty invite guest speakers to campus. Shari Keller, designer of eco-conscious label Mehera Shaw, spoke about responsible sourcing in a "Technical Garment" class.