If you have a natural flair for style and are drawn to the latest incoming fashion hitting the runways of Paris and Milan, then you’re probably considering a career in fashion design. And while innate talent and an eye for fashion will go so far, it’s important to have some form of formal education as a solid foundation for any career you’re looking to pursue in the world of fashion. If you’re reading this, you’re already starting to prepare, which is a good thing – here’s what you need to know about studying fashion design in South Africa.


What do you need to study fashion design?

While the tertiary institutions offering fashion design will differ in terms of their entrance requirements, there are certain criteria that are pretty standard across the board. Here is generally what you will need to have to make the cut.


  • Either a National Senior Certificate (NSC), FET Level 4 certificate, Grade 12, recognised equivalent qualification certified by Umalusi, or international equivalent examination board.
  • A minimum achievement rating code of three in four recognised NSC 20-credit subjects.
  • A minimum achievement rating code of three in English Home Language or English First Additional Language or English Second Additional Language.
  • A letter of motivation.
  • A portfolio of creative evidence.

Read More: Want to study fashion? Pick the right fashion qualification


What subjects should you take at school?

If you’re still in high school and already know that you want a career in fashion, then you can tailor your secondary education to put you on the best path to tertiary acceptance. While there are no specific Grade 12 subject requirements to study fashion design at most institutions, there are certain subjects – languages, art, textiles and design – that will definitely give you an advantage. Some of the subjects you could consider taking include:


  • Accounting
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Business Studies
  • Dramatic Arts
  • Economics
  • Engineering Graphics and Design
  • Geography
  • History
  • Consumer Studies
  • Information Technology
  • Languages
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
  • Music
  • Physical Sciences
  • Visual Arts


The majority of South African-based fashion design institutions adopt English instruction and, as such, students will need to be proficient in English to be admitted to the fashion design programmes. This would usually translate to a rating code of three in English Home Language, English First Additional Language or English Second Additional Language.

Read More: What are the best fashion schools in the world?


What are the fashion design course options?

Fashion design is an all-encompassing course with many interesting facets, but depending on your needs and budget, there are different course options within this particular field. While you don’t necessarily require a formal education to enter the field, it provides you with a massive head start, fantastic grounding and incredible networking opportunities when you do study it through a reputable institution. The options available include:

  1. Bachelor of Fashion Degree

To study this, you will need a National Senior Certificate or equivalent certification which is at least a 30% pass for English with a 50-59% in four other subjects.


  1. Diploma in Fashion

This also require a National Senior Certificate or equivalent with a 30% English pass and 40-49% in four other subjects.


  1. Non-degree courses

If you’re looking for something to build your CV or personal skills, then a non-degree course in fashion is the one to consider. You would still need a National Senior Certificate or equivalent to apply for these courses.


  1. Short courses

If you haven’t completed matric, then you can opt for a short course in fashion design. For this, you will need to have a Grade 7 completion, and may require certain skill sets such as sewing.


What are the subjects that make up fashion design?

  • Pattern making
  • Textiles
  • Garment construction
  • Fashion illustration
  • Fashion and design
  • Fashion business
  • Fashion ornamentation
  • Fashion management
  • Fashion merchandising
  • Computer-aided designing (CAD)
  • Fashion marketing
  • Clothing culture
  • Communication

Read More: 5 signs that you should become a fashion designer


What are the other requirements for fashion design?

Beyond the actual course study requirements for fashion design, there are other elements that will assist you in achieving your fashion design goals.


–        Internship

You will be required to get some hands-on training and industry exposure when looking to earn your career in fashion design. There will be dedicated internship programmes tailored to aspiring fashion designers available at design firms and retail businesses. This will enhance your fashion knowledge and skills to better prepare you for your chosen career.


–        Skills

As we mentioned at the start, becoming a fashion designer does require some level of skill or natural flair in this arena. Some of the skill requirements include:

  • Sewing
  • Drawing or sketching
  • Sales
  • Communication


If you’re considering a career in fashion design, then Villioti Fashion Institute is an industry-leading organisation boasting international networks and a comprehensive course offering. To find out more, get in touch with Villioti Fashion Institute today.