The creation, aesthetics, function, and business of fashion

Program highlights: Studio-based training in fashion design, Merging of fashion and technology, Business perspectives suited to the dynamics of the fashion industry, On-site historical fashion and textile collection

Admissions note: A design supplement is required of all undergraduate applicants to this major as part of the application process and needs to be uploaded to Slideroom by the application deadline.



Fashion Design and Management (FD&M) encompasses the creative, technical, marketing, and communications aspects of the fashion industry. Students pursue creative fashion design, functional and performance aspects of clothing design, and technical aspects of product development, as well as applying business principles to the global fashion industry through an interdisciplinary, liberal arts-based approach. Two options are available within the major.

The Fashion Design option prepares students for careers as designers through studio courses that explore concepts and techniques of creating fashion. Students learn to develop fashion collections and a range of products from runway fashion and active sportswear to innovations in “smart” textiles. Conventional techniques, digital tools, and new technologies are used to communicate fashion ideas and develop design skills. Coursework in fashion, design theory and methods, materials and industry practices are informed by the interdisciplinary approach of the College of Human Ecology for a well-rounded education.

The Fashion Design Management option teaches students to solve problems in a broadly defined fashion industry by applying an understanding of the visual, theoretical, and technical aspects of the industry to the practical situations of business management. The option combines studies in apparel design and history, textile materials, fashion industry supply chain, communications, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, and public policy to provide a broad understanding of the products, structure, and practices in the fashion industry.

Review our curriculum sheets (updated each year) to better understand how the major is organized.

Fibers, Fabrics, and Finishes (FSAD 1350) introduces the properties and performance of textile materials and processes, and provides a general overview of the textile industry from a scientific perspective. Focus is on materials used in apparel and home furnishing markets. Chemistry and mechanics of typical materials and processes used in the textile industry will be addressed with emphasis placed on the relationship between the materials and processes used and the final properties of the fabric.

Introduction to Fashion Design (FSAD 1450) covers the principles of garment assembly and flat-patternmaking for apparel design, as well as the use of mass production equipment and methods to analyze, develop, and assemble garments. Studio projects include an emphasis on innovative design and high-quality garment assembly techniques for upscale markets.

Fashion, Aesthetics, and Society (FSAD 2190) introduces students to fashion, beauty, and trends and their integral relationship throughout history. Students learn and explore various aspects of contemporary fashion phenomena, such as fashion-art collaborations, media-effects on body image, the impact of new technologies on fashion and lifestyle trends, and other significant issues of society manifest in fashion of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Fashion Product Management (FSAD 2310) provides an overview of the fashion supply chain with emphasis on the U.S. apparel industry. Students will learn key concepts for managing the development, marketing and distribution of fashion products including consumer behavior, trend forecasting, brand management, merchandise planning, and multi-channel distribution.

Activewear Design and Product Development (FSAD 2660) is a projects-based course in which students explore the relationship between technology and design, and the impact of production issues on manufactured activewear. Students learn computer-aided patternmaking; activewear construction methods; manufacturing technologies; communication of technical details, flats, specifications; and costing of garments.

FD&M students participate in engaged learning opportunities that provide valuable practical knowledge while testing their academic and career interests.

Participation in design competitions and mentored independent projects is encouraged. Students regularly participate in and win scholarships in the prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund and CFDA Design Competitions, and the Barbara L. Kuhlman fiber and wearable arts program.

Study-away options

Many FD&M students spend a semester studying abroad in international fashion centers such as London, Paris, and Milan, or take part in Cornell exchange programs in Hong Kong, or New Zealand. 

Internship Examples

  • Balenciaga
  • Malia Mills
  • MBF Trend Consulting
  • Milly
  • Nike
  • Phillip Lim 3.1
  • PVH Calvin Klein
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Tory Burch

Student organizations

The Cornell Fashion Collective presents an annual student-managed and designed Fashion Show, which features the apparel designs of our students and others across campus.

Students connect to fashion industry professionals through the student-run organization, the Cornell Fashion Industry Network.

Undergraduates can participate in department research that focuses on expanding knowledge and creating new understandings in areas of fashion and fibrous materials that address end-uses for future needs and make an impact on humanity as a whole.

A sampling of research units includes the Cornell Digital Fashion and Body Scan Research Lab, Cornell Performance Apparel Design Lab, and the Textiles Nanotechnology Lab. Students also have the opportunity to work with, draw inspiration from, and conduct research in the Cornell Fashion and Textile Collection.

Research examples

  • Exploring uses for post-consumer textile waste 
  • Smart garment development
  • Cornell Fashion and Textile Collection exhibition research and sample preparation
  • Thermal comfort and ergonomics of protective clothing
  • Fit and sizing research using the Cornell Body Scanner

Honors program

The Honors Program recognizes the highest level of academic achievement among FD&M majors. The Honors Program allows qualified undergraduates the opportunity to pursue independent creative scholarship/research under the supervision of a member of the FD&M faculty. Students apply to the Honors Program during their junior year.

Graduates of the FD&M major are attractive candidates for leadership positions in fashion and related industries and have earned a reputation among employers in the apparel and textiles industries for their ability to think creatively.

Alumni are designers, product developers, buyers, marketing managers, communicators, data application developers, and financial analysts for influential fashion houses and retailers or as entrepreneurs under their own labels. Graduates also do specialized design in fields such as elite athletics and the protective clothing industry, and use their creativity in public-relations, fashion journalism, publishing, and theater design.

Graduate/Professional school

Students who go on to graduate work are well prepared for programs in business administration, art business, communications, marketing, law, museum studies, apparel design, costume history, textile design, and theatrical costuming.

Sample Career Paths

Collection Designer-Own Label, BY., Bonnie Young
Senior Project Manager, Macy’s Merchandising Group 
Senior Director of Supply Strategy, PVH
Creative Director, Echo Design 
Executive Director, at Harper’s BAZAAR
Senior Vice President Merchandising, BaubleBar
Senior Technical Developer, Target
Senior Digital Designer, Nike 
Senior Director, Global Product Licensing, Michael Kors
Curatorial Manager, Rare and Historical, Ralph Lauren Library
Digital Marketing Entrepreneur, Maison MRKT