Learn the traditional and cutting-edge techniques needed for success in a range of fashion careers.
The BFA in Fashion Design is one of the nation’s leading programs for sustainable fashion. Students work closely with faculty and peers to cultivate visionary thinking, propose disruptive design technology, and create new aesthetics. We’re driven to make a difference in the fashion world by championing bio-fabrics and micro-enterprises that help the disenfranchised.
Draw inspiration from the Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its creative culture, and we’re lucky to be located in the center of it all. On any given day, there are hundreds of events, including exhibitions, design hackathons, gallery openings, and film screenings. Students are inspired by the bay’s diverse perspectives to create compelling, cutting-edge work.
Most fashion students learn to draft, drape, pattern, sew, and tailor. Our program goes a step further by combining traditional techniques with a range of 21st century processes, from manipulating materials and existing garments to experimenting with collage and illustration. We also use our position inside a top-ranking art and design school to get creative with textile treatments and digital technologies. Students can try their hand at digital patterning, seam welding, soft sculpture, and more.
From fashion sketches to final forms
The main Fashion Design studios feature two fabric workshops and a knitting space—each outfitted with industry-standard equipment and significant resources. Boasting numerous industrial sewing machines, knitting machines, display mannequins, dress forms, and more, students find what they need to make their vision a bespoke reality. Because many of our students have an interest in textile development, furniture, and wearable objects, our curriculum features a number of open studio electives to give them a chance to explore different spaces and fabrication tools.
Make connections through awards and internships
We encourage students to participate in competitions organized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Joe’s Blackbook and routinely take them to the annual Youth Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, where they collaborate with students from around the world on United Nations sustainability goals. These opportunities give them incredible industry exposure and introduce them to artisan communities overseas.
Fashion students also have the chance to intern with companies such as Athleta, Libertine, Tea Collection, Erica Tanov, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, N.I.C.E. Collective, and Gap, Inc. Working closely with practicing designers, they gain invaluable insight into the challenges the industry faces and build up their resume and portfolio at the same time.
Studios are outfitted with a range of equipment
- Needle felter
- Knitting machines
- Leather/heavy-duty sewing machine
- Printing tables and screens
- Vacuum-forming machine
- Laser cutter/etcher
- Sewing machines
- Digital fashion illustration tools
- Cutting tables
- 3D printer
- Silicone molding
- Dedicated studio spaces
Our faculty are cross-disciplinary designers who challenge the practices of mainstream fashion. They spearhead systems of making that are more efficient and embrace digital technologies that can find new forms for existing materials. With sustainability and innovation at the forefront, faculty help students develop their artistic voice and show them how to influence the industry for the better.
Meet the program chair
Chair Lynda Grose was the co-founder of ESPRIT’s ecollection, the first ecologically responsible clothing line developed by a major corporation. Their ecollection popularized an approach to supply chains that focused on understanding the impact of a particular garment, which is now an industry-wide standard. View Grose's interview on refreshing clothes and the climate
For almost 30 years, Grose has worked in a variety of capacities—with companies, nonprofits, government organizations, artisans, and farmers—to further sustainability in fashion. Her work with Sustainable Cotton Project, for example, inspired a generation of companies to develop organic and Cleaner Cotton™ product lines, and her designs with artisans in Armenia and Central Asia helped establish cooperatives that are still operating today.
Grose's ongoing client list includes Patagonia, Greenpeace, Levi Strauss & Co., Sustainable Cotton Project, Fashion For Good, Gap, Inc., Aid to Artisans, Georgian Arts & Culture Center, and 13-Mile Farm.
Publication and current projects
Grose is the co-author of the landmark book Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change, which explores how the values of sustainability can inform new design aesthetics and transform the fashion design practice. The book is now available in five languages and is in its second printing.
Currently, she’s working to decelerate the flow of materials through fashion systems by designing garments with evolving aesthetics. Created to address emergent business models, this process of deceleration is highly collaborative and experimental. Grose also continues to speak at conferences, museums, and colleges around the world.
Imagine and create disruptive design solutions
Fashion Design at CCA combines traditional techniques, such as sewing and tailoring, with experimental methods and material manipulations, including textile treatments and molding. Courses are designed to help you think outside of the box, question long-standing industry practices, and turn visionary ideas into new aesthetics. View sample courses
Investigate ideas through every dimension
Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.
Students graduate from the Fashion Design program ready to work across disciplines, experiment with materials and technologies, and find creative solutions to pressing industry challenges. In addition to pursuing traditional fashion careers, they find success at nonprofit organizations like the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Girl Effect.
Potential career paths
- Design director
- Knitwear designer
- Technical designer
- Design educator
- Pattern maker
- Concept developer
- Sustainable fabric developer
We look for students who understand that fashion is more than trendsetting—it’s a confluence of cultures, rich histories, and personal expression. Fashion’s also an industry in need of forward-thinking designers. If you’re driven to create new sustainable modes of production and defend human rights, consider joining one of the nation’s leading programs.