Fashion design to launch new major program

Fashion design could be an official major within the next few years.

“Things have evolved to a new point,” design area coordinator Deborah Christiansen said. “This year there is more favor.”

The department has been on a track to propose fashion design as a major for a number of years, but the proposal has routinely been dismissed due to administrative issues, Christiansen said.

Increased interest in fashion design has likely led to this development.
“It’s been a roller coaster for decades but this is the largest we’ve ever been,” Christiansen said.

She said media such as the popular reality show “Project Runway” have led to an increase in design interest.

Currently students who want to pursue fashion design academically are only able to obtain a Fashion Design Certificate. The program only has space for 48 students, though application numbers can reach into the 60s.

Christiansen said half of those working for a certificate would likely be interested in fashion design as a major.

She said the major would appeal to students who cannot go to a design school such as Parsons The New School for Design. Having fashion design as an option could make IU much more appealing to those who are looking for an in-state school. Purdue University, for example, already has a fashion design major.

Currently only four to five students each year go through the IMP to get a bachelor’s in fashion design but Christiansen imagined that number would grow if it were an official major.

The Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design itself has seen growth. Faculty have had to take on a heavier load and more students have been filling up classroom space, Christiansen said.

“Retail is a huge part of America’s economy,” Christiansen said. “The jobs are there.”
The department will not disclose what stage in the process they are at with making fashion design a major, though Christiansen said the proposal has been made and that there are many levels it must pass through.

“You just never know what hurdle you’re going to hit,” she said. “I certainly hope it happens.”

— Molly Johnson

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