Bingeable: Making the Cut

Warning: fan girl post

I binged Making the Cut and I loved it.

The designers / contestants in this reality show create products, and each episode’s winning clothes are “immediately” available to actually purchase online via Amazon. I know, I know, its so commercial… and wonderful all at the same time.

Plus I can use the fashions and lessons here in the classroom to show that we can design and market for real people at affordable prices and still make a successful brand.

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame, are back with a broader vision: finding not just a good garment, but an all-around designer/entrepreneur to be the “next global fashion brand.” The challenges go beyond the clothes, to include managing a working group, creating an ad campaign, and standing the pressure of competition. In both the first and second season, I thought they picked the person who could do all that and be a design wizard, too.

The week I watched the second season, I dreamed about being a designer — which was useful in that it pushed out so many other contemporary worries. For several days running, there was no pandemic in my thoughts. Nice break.

Also, I thought the styles were worth the watch. In the first challenge, Gary Graham made a handkerchief hem dress out of an army blanket and an indigo batik he created himself. It won the night, as well it should. I seldom disagreed with the judges, so the experience was satisfying.

Several designers on this year’s show emphasized designing for all kinds of bodies, a breath of fresh air. This is something I can take into the classroom as an example of working with real people and being successful. The clothes are not priced in the stratosphere, either. Mr. Graham’s dress is $79.90.

Recommended! Enjoy!

Design, Retail, Theater: the Many Fields of Fashion

A primer of the fields of fashion.

Please help us to make this a useful page.  Please contribute! We’d like to create a list of jobs / titles / majors / programs that would be useful for both faculty and students planning careers. As the list becomes more complete, we will make a static page, much like our style tribes section.  

When I talk about the “fashion students” at my institution, outsiders often assume they are aspiring designers — but there’s a lot more to fashion than that.  My university has a program in retail but not in design; a new certificate in museum studies broadens our scope, even thought it isn’t in the same school.  It can all be a little confusing, so perhaps a primer on fields of the field might help.These programs overlap and cross-pollinate, of course. Also, these stubs are intented to be simple, jargon-free summaries, not detailed explanations.

Links go out to the Occupational Outlook Handbook and other career resources.

Fashion Design is the creative endeavor to make new clothing styles.  Fashion designers can work for high fashion or box stores or anywhere in between.  Like any kind of designer, they must learn about the properties of the stuff they use to create, as well as considering cost, market, materials, etc.

Fashion Retail or Merchandising, then, is the business end of the bargain. Students study  how to create profitable retail stores. They aspire to be buyers, marketers, or trend trackers for larger companies, or perhaps dream of their own boutique.

Relatedly, students of fashion might be training to Teach  or practice Human / Family and Consumer Sciences . An understanding of fashion and consumer behavior is part of their study. Hospitality, dietetics, family studies, and teacher training are often intertwined with these programs.

All this commercial activity is at a remove from the study of Costume History. While any program with its finger in fashion may require a background in how clothing has changed over time, costume history can be its own program. People who major in costume history might become academic researchers themselves, or use that background for other work…

such as Theater CostumeIn theater costume, students learn how to build garments that meet the requirements of movies, ballets, and other performing arts. Sometimes that means The Most Historically Accurate Gown…, but it often includes other criteria, such as, …That Allows the Actress to Do A Cartwheel and Will Last for Six Months of Nightly Shows.  Both fashion design houses and theater companies also need skilled artistans  to make patterns, cut and sew cloth, and tailor for fit.


An academic background in Costume History might also lead to Museum Studies, to become a qualified  curator  or conservator of a textile collection.

Two books in particular talk about jobs in fashion:  The Fashion Industry and Its Careers by Michelle Granger (2015) lists dozens of other specialties.  Bloomsbury’s  Guide to Fashion Career Planning  (2016) focuses more on job search and career strategies.

All this matters to librarians, because each program requires different resources.  For example, I probably don’t need to subscribe to Passport GMID for design students. Costume historians need books showing x-rayed garments; theater costumers could use videos about how to make a flat pattern. Designers need inspiration; business people need statistics.  As always, the work of the librarian follows the work of the departments with which they collaborate.


Photo credits:

Irene: Why didn’t I live in the 1940’s.

1944: Henry Poole and Co., London.

Unique Gem in the City of Paris

For those with summer travel plans to the fashionable city of Paris, I recommend checking out the Pierre Cardin Museum.

This past year I had the opportunity to travel to Paris and one of the things that I simply had to do was go to the Pierre Cardin Museum. I had just read about the opening in the most recent issue of WWD and was mesmerized by a space that honored Monsieur Cardin. He always intrigued me and to have the opportunity to see a variety of items he created over the span of his career was on the top of my to-do list for this trip.

The cost is a bit steep, but definitely worth it (25 euro). The pieces that are on display run the gamut from housewares to ready-to-wear, to couture.  I was the sole person in the museum and ended up having an impromptu tour from the woman that worked there.

Overall, the history held within the three-story museum is inspiring.