New York City is one of the best places to study fashion. What’s more, it hosts some of the best schools for it. What you may not know is that NYU is a great option to consider when deciding where you want to pursue your fashion studies. Here, I highlight the things you need to know in order to decide if NYU is where you want to study fashion. 

Students on a runway modeling student-designed clothes.
Favorites from my 2020 Gallatin Fashion Show collection!
Disclaimer No. 1

First things first: NYU may not be a great fit for students interested in majoring in Fashion Design. NYU’s various schools and colleges offer a number of fashion classes, but you will not find classes that focus on the physical design process. For example, NYU does not offer courses in patternmaking, bodice draping, and sewing. Instead, design-related programs at NYU focus on theory. So, if you want to study the sustainability of the fashion design industry, NYU may be for you. 

The NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study offers a few design classes. They focus on the unconventional methods of fashion design, like the creation of garments using sustainable materials. So they require little to no sewing experience or knowledge. 

But, if you’re itching to design during your time at NYU, you still can! You can showcase your designs at the annual Gallatin Fashion Show. It’s open to anyone across any major, program, or school at the University. So you can be a first-time or well-seasoned designer. What’s more, it’s a great way to remain involved in the practice of design no matter your major.

Below is a clip of my mini collection from the 2022 show!

Disclaimer No. 2

NYU does not have a traditional Fashion major or program. Therefore, pursuing fashion here is unconventional. At NYU, anyone who wants to study fashion will do it at one of three schools: Gallatin, the Steinhardt School for Culture, Education, and Human Development, and Liberal Studies via the Global Liberal Studies program. 

The Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Gallatin (which is where I am) takes an individualized approach to education. Gallatin students are motivated by their varying interests and independence.

At Gallatin we create our own concentrations (that’s what we call majors because we’re ~different~). Since there is not a traditional fashion program at NYU, at Gallatin, you will receive the guidance to create your own fashion curriculum based on the industry areas you wish to focus on. That’s why Gallatin is the best school to study fashion. Creating your own path can sometimes feel like too much freedom. But Gallatin advisers are there to guide you. What’s more, Gallatin students have the flexibility to take courses throughout the University’s other schools and programs. And there are many courses that touch on fashion, so it is up to you—with the help of your adviser—to fit those into your concentration.

So, if you know you want to integrate fashion with different areas of focus in your studies, Gallatin may be just the place for you. 

Examples of Amazing Fashion-Related Concentrations at Gallatin
  • Fashion business
  • Fashion and sustainability
  • How consumer culture affects the fashion industry in a media-frenzied society (This is what I study!)
  • Intersections of color theory
  • Psychology and fashion
Sam Molina wearing one of her new designs for the 2023 Gallatin Fashion Show.
From sketch to reality! A personal project to kick off senior year and a future piece of mine for the 2023 Gallatin Fashion Show.

The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Maybe Gallatin isn’t your speed and you need a little more structure in your life. In that case, applying to Steinhardt as a Media, Culture, Communication major (MCC) may be a good fit. Especially if you are interested in studying fashion in these areas. Rather than focusing solely on fashion, you will gain foundational knowledge of media in its cultural, social, and global contexts.  

What Is MCC?

The MCC program provides students with the necessary tools to analyze the sociological, political, and cultural dimensions of our media landscape. Also, the curriculum encourages you to think deeply about topics at the intersection of media and culture. Courses focus on the entertainment industry, marketing, public relations, and more, so you can specialize your MCC studies. To incorporate fashion into your MCC major, you could enroll in classes that focus on fashion as media. For example, you can take Fashion and Power with Professor Milena Popov. 

Bonus Tip

You can mix things up! Apply to NYU as a Gallatin student and take up an MCC minor. You’ll get the best of both worlds: a concentration in fashion and a theoretical foundation in media, culture, and communication. 

Liberal Studies

Lastly, the Global Liberal Studies (GLS) major is another program that offers courses in fashion. GLS is a bachelor’s program offered at NYU Liberal Studies. Students in this major complete a liberal arts core curriculum with a global focus. Once you have completed the GLS core curriculum, you will choose one of seven concentrations that centers your global studies on a specific theme. 

The Seven Concentrations

Art, Text, and Media (ATM)
ATM analyzes art’s role in the historical formation of a global world. Students examine the myriad ways artists play a crucial role in constructing and critiquing ideas shaping a global human experience.

Critical Creative Production (CCP)
CCP explores the roles globalism plays in written, visual, and other forms of creativity. Creative practice is situated within research and critical theory. This gives students vital opportunities to investigate global phenomena in inventive ways.

Cultural and Social Identities (CSI)
Through social and cultural analysis, CSI provides the tools for understanding how identities, their performance, and their representations are formulated, distributed, and deployed around the globe.

Economy and Society (ES)
ES places the economy in its historical and social contexts. Students learn how to identify patterns and differences in socioeconomic phenomena across space and time.

Law, Ethics, History, and Religion (LEHR)
LEHR engages students in thinking critically about questions in legal theory, history, philosophy, and religious studies.

Politics, Rights, and Development (PRD)
PRD examines the historical contexts and controversies surrounding social action: power and policy, justice and human rights, and economic and social development.

Sustainability, Health, and the Environment (SHE)
SHE offers a multidisciplinary exploration of the relationship between human affairs and the biophysical planet.

Incorporating Fashion into the GLS Concentrations

You can center fashion in all seven of the GLS concentrations. For example, you can study fashion’s role in the historical formation of the global world or investigate the role globalism plays in the fashion industry. What’s more, you can analyze fashion’s influence on identities around the globe or examine the industry’s impact on the environment.

GLS offers a balance of flexibility and structure that allows you the opportunity to explore the theme of fashion within your concentration.

A page from Sam Molina’s fashion sketchbook.
Use your imagination to find ways to incorporate your skills and passions into your concentrations. I’m always giving myself reasons to sketch or sew for school.
Fashion Bonus

Studying away is a great way to immerse yourself in the world of fashion. Many of NYU’s study away sites have a rich fashion history. This will provide you with an interactive and global perspective of fashion. You’ll have the opportunity to live in and learn from a variety of fashion capitals! Students can typically study away starting their sophomore year, but GLS students have the option of spending their first year away. Additionally, GLS students are required to study away their junior year regardless if they’ve already studied away.

First Year Sites: Florence, London, Madrid, and Washington, DC.

Junior Year Sites: Abu Dhabi, Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, Madrid, Paris, Shanghai, and Tel Aviv.

The Parisian skyline.
Semester away in Paris, anyone?

In conclusion, the trick to studying fashion at NYU is utilizing the flexibility offered here. You can do it if you stay motivated and think outside the box!

Sam Molina (she/her) is a student at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study studying the intersections of global media communications and consumer culture with an interest in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Southern California, a first-generation college student and first-generation Mexican-American. On campus, she is an admissions ambassador, studied away at NYU’s Paris site, and has designed in the Gallatin Fashion Show. She wants to learn as many languages and own as many cats as she can. In her free time, she likes to hang out with her cat, sew, and attend as many daytime/late night talk shows as possible.