Accessory Design: Program Coursework Overview

The study of accessory design focuses on items such as footwear, handbags and belts. Typically, coursework is completed through a full degree program. Read on to learn more about the content of accessory design courses.

Essential Information

Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs are available in accessory design at fashion institutes and art schools. Completion of one of these programs can lead to a career in job fields such as luggage design and bridal accessory design, although at least a bachelor's degree is usually required for such fashion design jobs. In addition to completing accessory design coursework, students might go on field trips, study fashion abroad or do an internship at a company that makes accessories.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in accessory design courses:

  • History of accessories
  • Portfolio development
  • Accessory specializations
  • Fabrics and materials
  • Patternmaking and designs
  • Industrial production
  • Marketing strategies

List of Common Courses

Introduction to Accessory Design Course

In this foundational course, students examine the historical roots of various accessories and the evolution of trends in the contemporary fashion industry. They study the materials, construction and presentation of items such as shoes, hats, bags and belts. Theoretical knowledge is complemented with hands-on experience using common tools and techniques to create these accessories.

Accessory Sketching Course

Students examine 2-D concepts related to accessory design. They learn sketching techniques, technical drawing and rendering skills for the different textures and materials that are used in modern fashion design. Sketching classes often require students to put together a portfolio of their designs which may include drawings of belts, hats, gloves and jewelry.

Footwear Design Course

Creating conceptual footwear designs is the central focus of this class. An examination of the different types of footwear and their historical relevance to contemporary design are usually covered in depth. Practical experience is accomplished using different materials, and techniques in patternmaking, construction, sewing and finishing are also discussed.

Handbag Design Course

This course covers the plethora of handbag styles, including their transformation throughout history. The principles behind handbag design are covered, and students hone their skills through hands-on construction projects. In addition to patternmaking techniques, students become familiar with the equipment and machinery used to complete their designs. They typically present concepts and create models meant to result in a finished prototype.

Belt Design Course

During a course in belt design, students generally explore the functional use of belts before delving into their role as a fashion item. The curriculum often covers historical trends in belt design, leading up to current styles. Skills in technical sketching, patternmaking, rendering and presenting concepts as they relate to belt design are a large part of the coursework as well.

Accessories Merchandising Course

This class covers a broad perspective of the merchandising aspect of accessory design. Common course topics may include domestic manufacturing, importing and exporting. Methods in how to develop accessory collections that appeal to specific markets are often discussed. Students may also explore the importance of accessories in different retail markets. They may also learn about private label products and major designer and brand names. Additionally, students typically discover how to write up a business plan during this course.


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