Updated for the 2024 Admissions Cycle


Our applicants come from a variety of backgrounds with various connections to and experiences with fashion. The diverse perspectives of our faculty and students inform our approach to teaching, learning, and preparing our students for a rapidly changing industry.

Faculty members will review your portfolio to learn about your creative design process, conceptual approach, sources of inspiration, aesthetic sensibilities, technical skills, and how your background and experiences have informed your fashion design perspective.

The Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index are required of all first-year and transfer applicants interested in this option of the Fashion Design & Management major*. This submission will be considered along with your required application materials (Common Application, transcripts, etc). Fashion Design applications who do not submit the Portfolio and Design Index will not be considered. 

*Applicants interested in the Fashion Design Management option of the Fashion Design & Management major must follow separate guidelines.

Submitting your Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index
All Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index components must be submitted via SlideRoom. Mailed materials will not be accepted, reviewed, or returned.

Your Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index must be submitted to SlideRoom by the application deadline that corresponds with your application status. Late submissions will not be considered.

The Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index Components
The Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index consists of the following (2) required components (see below). Applicants must complete and submit the (2) required components.

  1. Required — a portfolio
  2. Required — a Fashion Design Index. The Fashion Design Index is a set of questions used by the Fashion Design and Management faculty to better understand your design process and thinking, sense of aesthetics, and perception of fashion.

Carefully review the following instructions and guidelines to ensure that you submit all required materials for evaluation. You should include work that best highlights your creativity, skill, and passion for fashion design. Refer to the FAQs below as you consider the most effective ways to highlight these elements.

All work must be original and created by the applicant, WITH NO ASSISTANCE FROM CONSULTANTS, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ETC. Submissions found to have significant similarity to work posted on the internet or from other sources will not be accepted.


Please use the description field in SlideRoom to identify date of creation, medium, and other relevant details about each piece. If using a commercial pattern, please indicate this and explain how you have modified the piece to reflect your unique vision for the final design.

Portfolio and Fashion Design Index Instructions (2024)

Create a cohesive presentation of your portfolio materials. 

  • Consider your portfolio as a whole and greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the portfolio should be unified, and come together to cohesively reflect your design approach.
  • Include a maximum of (15) examples of design work that demonstrate a breadth of skill.  At least one example should show your design process from ideation to execution.
    • Priority work should include fashion illustration; clothing, costumes, or accessories you have designed and/or made; textile design projects; fashion sketch book pages; and/or examples of wearable technology and computer aided design.
    • Secondary work such as examples of ceramics, crafts, glasswork, graphics, leatherwork, metalwork, painting, photography, sculpture and/or woodwork that has a connection to or is inspired by your interest in fashion may also be included.


  • Include a brief description with each item, including title, inspiration and design intention, materials, techniques, date of completion, originality (for example, “original design using commercially available pattern”).
  • Submit (1) page per image/item, with a maximum of (15) pages, to SlideRoom.

Respond to the following (4) prompts. You will submit your responses via the Fashion Design Index form on SlideRoom.

  1. Students in the College of Human Ecology approach the study of human health and well-being by considering many different scholarly perspectives, including human development, nutrition, psychology, history, economics, design, and the social and material sciences, among others. What interests you about studying fashion design in this kind of interdisciplinary educational context? (Maximum: 150 words)
  2. If you could make one sweeping and impactful change to the fashion industry, what would it be and why? (Maximum: 150 words)
  3. Of all the places, people, and media platforms where fashion is seen, which has most informed and influenced you and why? (Maximum: 100 words)
  4. Please tell us about your educational, work, and/or personal fashion-related experiences. These experiences may be related to garment construction, textile design, classes taken, personal experiences with dress, and internships, work, or volunteer opportunities in the creative industries more broadly, or fashion, fibers, and textiles more specifically. (Maximum: 100 words)

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Fashion graphics and garment construction are taught during the first two semesters at Cornell and are required of all Fashion Design students. We understand that not all students have opportunities to participate in fashion experiences/coursework. Consider using the Fashion Design Index responses to expand upon your interests and the opportunities you have had in developing your unique design perspective. 

We are not scheduling faculty appointments. You can email FSAD-DUS@cornell.edu with questions about the program and/or the required Portfolio and Design Index.

Black and white sketches work well for fashion illustrations. You might, however, want to include images of fabric swatches or written descriptions of fabrics with some of your sketch work to give reviewers an idea of how you envision the finished garment(s). Design faculty are interested in applicants’ thoughts about the design process, fabric selections, and color choices.

Photograph front and back views of the design on a model or mannequin. Show any close-up shots of the detail work you wish to highlight. You may include images or written descriptions of fabric swatches of the designs with your photos. Make note of the source of the commercial pattern and how choices made during the construction process have helped you to assert your design perspective.

Create and include storyboards or collages around fashion themes and colors to demonstrate how you coordinate apparel and accessories. You can also include photos of your friends in the outfits you have coordinated for them and briefly explain your selection decisions.

No. A recommendation letter from a designer with whom you have worked can be included in your portfolio, but it cannot replace a teacher’s letter of recommendation.

Contact the College of Human Ecology Admissions Office (607-255-5471) to learn more about your candidacy. Submitting additional visuals to your portfolio, as well as updates regarding design-related activities and awards, might be helpful to your candidacy. You can also send a statement of continued interest to the College of Human Ecology Admissions Committee through your application portal. Additional letters of recommendation are not helpful.

The summer before you matriculate at Cornell is an excellent time to establish a basic understanding of fabric and machine handling. Fashion design is a design field where it is possible to make what you design using your own hands. Background work will enhance the quality of projects in your fashion design studios. Fashion design work in the major includes original sketch ideas, textile color and surface design, apparel pattern development, and construction of garments by the student. Enrolling students who need to improve their sewing skills on campus will be enrolled in appropriate coursework their first semester.