Thursday, April 9, 2009


Tiffany Leilani models a gown designed by Adrianna Diaz, a Fashion Design student at The Art Institute of California - Inland Empire. The Fashion Design and Fashion Retail Marketing programs at The Art Institute of California - Inland Empire prepare students for exciting careers in the fashion industry.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) – “If you want to see the world, fashion is a great industry to be in.”

So says Academic Director for Fashion Sherry West, who oversees The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire’s fashion programs. There are two programs of study within this discipline, Fashion Design and Fashion & Retail Management.

“You would spend three to four years in a Fashion Design program to obtain a position as an assistant fashion designer,” West said. “That is only the beginning. There are hundreds of opportunities within this field.”

Every level of fashion, from discount to luxury, relies on designers, she pointed out. And within each level there are men’s, women’s and children’s clothes. Designers create clothing from swimming suits to evening gowns to theatrical costumes, as well as accessories like belts and purses. They also create the designs for patterns (i.e. floral) and trims seen on clothes.

“You could pick a brand and go for it,” West said. “

“I don’t recommend anyone go straight from college to having their own fashion line” West said. “I think they should get the experience, travel and see their creations made and successfully marketed, without the pressure of being responsible for the overall success as a business owner.”

An ability to draw is one skill a fashion designer must possess, according to West. “They have to be able to convey their ideas in an illustratable form,” she said.

Another must is a love of travel. The fashion capitals of the world are Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Milan, West explained.

Ontario’s Anchor Blue is one of several fashion designers in the Inland Empire, and there are many others farther away from Los Angeles or New York. Still, these designers will need to travel, she said.

There is another side of fashion that’s just as exciting as design work, according to West. That’s the marketing side, and these are the careers for which the Fashion & Retail Management degree program prepares students.

“Fashion & Retail Management is an exciting program for our area retailers,” West said. “The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire has determined this area is a prime location for this program.”

“The Inland Empire area needs a qualified labor force in the fashion marketing industry, said Phyllis Clark an Art Institute of California – Inland Empire fashion programs instructor and member of the programs’ advisory board. “There are a growing number of large, upscale retail centers in the two-county area. A few of these are Victoria Gardens and the Ontario Mills Outlet Mall in the west San Bernardino Valley, the Galleria at Tyler and Riverside Plaza in Riverside, and the Cabazon Outlet Mall in Cabazon and El Paseo in Palm Desert.”

Fashion Design & Retail Management can prepare students to work as merchandise or store managers in these high-end malls or major department stores in the Inland Empire.

“We want them to aim high,” she said. “And to do that, most will have to leave the Inland Empire.”

Fashion advertising is another career field for which this degree prepares students, West said. Some of these people work for fashion magazines; others create brochures and catalogues used to market new fashions.

People with bachelor’s degrees in Fashion & Retail Management might also work in a design firm’s marketing or product development departments, as a human resources manager for either a design house or a retail chain or as a “visual merchandiser,” according to West. A visual merchandiser is a person who sets up creative marketing displays to help persuade either the wholesale or retail consumers to purchase fashions.

While the career paths for which The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire’s fashion programs prepare students are different, they are closely related, West said.

“Fashion designers need retailers to sell the clothes they design,” she said. “Retailers need fashion designers to have clothes to sell. I teach these students to work together.”

“There are entry-level opportunities for fashion designers and fashion and retail marketers with Bachelor’s degrees,” West said. “But they have to obtain an education. It is such a fast-paced industry they will need as much knowledge as possible. The more knowledge they have, the more marketable they are.”

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion & Retail Management, and Media Arts & Animation. It offers an Associate of Science degree in Graphic Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.

The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers an Associate degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Management. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

It’s not too late to start a new term at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. Courses begin May 14 and classes are offered in the day, evening and on weekends for new and reentry students.

For more information or a tour, call The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire at (909) 915-2100.

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of The Art Institutes (, a system of over 40 educational institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.