Apparel Design prepares students to meet the highest requirements of the fashion industry and articulate their own unique vision through the clothing they design and make. Emphasizing conceptual rigor matched by strong artistic and technical skills, the program guides majors through each stage of the apparel design process—from concept sketches to beautifully executed wearables.

Degree program

BFA
4-year undergraduate program

Apparel Design majors explore a range of materials and learn pattern drafting, draping and construction, while becoming adept at using high-end industry software to design and render clothing. Practical skill-building is supported by the examination of historical and cultural context, with grounding in the workings of the fashion industry.

Vaughan Carman | junior

"I came to RISD to do great things. If there's a lecture or a meeting, I go. RISD is such a great community. There are no labels here. People come from all different backgrounds and are encouraged to do what they want. I am a part of so many groups. If this was high school me, I wouldn't be doing any of this."

Neil Gilks | department head

“Championing innovation and originality, Apparel Design at RISD is home to strong, inquiring creatives. Students develop their own voices and directions through immersion in a thorough investigation of their craft. We work to help them develop insightful, artistic minds and become confident, creative decision makers able to navigate the future and their own careers.”

Apparel Design alumni make their mark as creative professionals in whatever way suits them best. Some launch their own lines and find a market niche, while others work as designers for retail leaders such as Calvin Klein, the Gap, Urban Outfitters and more. Many pursue personal interests in costume design, knitwear, hat design, shoe design, custom tailoring, materials research and more…

Alumni at work

Nicole Miller BFA 73 | industry leader

Popular around the world, Nicole Miller’s designs continue to stand out on the runway. In 2013 she earned the Spirit of Design Award for outstanding contributions to the world of design and for her generosity in working with students and young designers. Launched in 1982, Miller’s label now includes women’s apparel, handbags, footwear, jewelry, bridal wear and men’s sportswear. She credits RISD with inspiring her sense of freedom and creativity, and remains connected with the college as a visiting critic and mentor to RISD students, as well as a trustee.

Katie Gallagher BFA 09 | fashion designer

By the time she entered her senior year, Katie Gallagher had gained the confidence to follow her own instincts in creating a totally black degree project collection – despite industry warnings against that. Now, the New York Times calls her “magnificent,” New York magazine says she’s among Manhattan’s top six designers and R29 pronounces her the “quirky cool darling of the fashion world.” Gallagher designs clothing for women using a process she picked up at RISD, starting at the easel and later turning her futuristic paintings into fabulous fashion.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles