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.

The Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index are required of all first-year and transfer applicants*.  This submission will be considered along with your required application materials. Applications who do not submit these materials will not be considered. 

Submit your Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index via SlideRoom. Mailed materials will not be accepted, reviewed, or returned.

Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index Deadline
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.

Required for all first-year and transfer Fashion Design applicants: The Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index
The Fashion Design Portfolio and Design Index consists of the following components. Applicants must complete and submit both components. All work must be original and produced by the applicant. Submissions found to have significant similarity to work posted on the internet or from other sources will not be accepted.

  1. a portfolio and
  2. 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. 

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

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 design. Refer to the FAQs below as you consider the most effective ways to highlight your creativity, design sense, and perception of fashion.

Undergraduate Admissions information
The best source of information about the admissions process is the College of Human Ecology (CHE) Admissions Office

Portfolio and Fashion Design Index Instructions

Carefully review the following information as you develop your Fashion Design portfolio.

  • Submissions must be your own work. Those found to have significant similarity to work posted on the internet or from identifiable sources will not be accepted.
  • Include a maximum of (15) examples of design work from the following categories that demonstrate a breadth of skill and passion for fashion design. Two-thirds of your portfolio work should be from the “primary” category. See formatting guidelines below.
Examples of primary and secondary work
Primary work Secondary Work
Fashion illustration; clothing or accessories you have designed and/or made; textile design projects; fashion sketch book pages; examples of wearable technology and computer aided design. Work from art classes including examples of ceramics, crafts, glasswork, graphics, leatherwork, metal, painting, photography, sculpture, and/or woodwork; garments sewn from commercial patterns; fashion blogging; costume design.



  • 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 to SlideRoom.
  • See next section, respond to the (4) "Fashion Design Index" prompts, and submit via SlideRoom.

Respond to the following (4) prompts via SlideRoom (use the Fashion Design Index form that is part of the Fashion Design Portfolio and Index 2023 program).

(1) Fashion designer Alber Elbaz has said, "Style is the only thing you can't buy. It's not in a shopping bag, a label, or a price tag. It's something reflected from our soul to the outside world -- an emotion." Respond to this quote and share your perspective on style. (maximum: 150 words)

(2) Briefly respond to one of the following prompts (maximum: 150 words)

  • If you could make one sweeping change to the fashion industry, what would it be and why?
  • Provide one example that illustrates how fashion impacts human health and well-being.
  • What do you consider to be the most important social justice issue facing the fashion industry today and why?

(3) Of all the places, people, and media platforms displaying fashion, which has most informed and influenced you and why? (maximum: 150 words)

(4) Garment Construction: Do you have experience making clothing? If yes, please describe how and when you learned these skills. If no, what interests you about the process? (maximum: 150 words)

Submit the required Fashion Design Portfolio and the required Fashion Design Index via SlideRoom

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.

We are not scheduling faculty appointments at this time. You can email FSAD-DUS@cornell.edu with questions about the program and/or portfolio.

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.

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 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 via email. 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.