Fashion Design

Study Fashion Design in Auckland at Whitecliffe, New Zealand's leading arts and design school.

Whitecliffe Fashion Design graduates think creatively, take risks, and have a high level of industry standard technical skill. They are innovators with a personal vision who build careers as highly respected professionals within the fashion industry.



Fashion Design is an influential and creative medium offering a dynamic means of personal expression. Fashion is fast to react to global socio-economic and cultural events and represents contemporary concerns of the designer and the wearer, as well as providing a dialogue between the past and the present.

The Whitecliffe Fashion Design major encourages students to challenge the traditional boundaries of fashion and to foster their creativity while developing high levels of experimentation and technical skills.


What To Expect

Whitecliffe’s Fashion Design major encourages you to challenge ideas, re-examine boundaries and foster creativity while experimenting and developing the strong technical skills required for a future in the fashion industry.

The Fashion Design major focuses on design development and research, pattern drafting and garment construction. Industry targeted workshops include fashion technology, pattern drafting, and garment construction, design and concept development, tailoring and fabric manipulation techniques. Studio practice is complemented by courses in fashion history, theory, illustration, and professional practices. Classes are small and provide a nurturing learning environment with a strong focus on individual students.

BFA Year Two

Year Two students can choose a specialist area to work in, such as women’s wear or men’s wear within an overall framework of both historical and contemporary investigation and collection development. Students design and make their own contemporary capsule collection which is presented on the runway at the annual Whitecliffe Fashion Show.

Students study tailoring, fabric manipulation, fashion illustration and Illustrator for fashion, fashion history and theory. Students also gain industry experience through their participation in New Zealand Fashion Week.


BFA Year Three

At the successful conclusion of Year Three students will achieve their Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Year Three students design and develop a conceptually-based collection of garments reflecting a personal design style which is presented at the annual Whitecliffe Fashion Show. Practical experience is gained through an industry internship, which can be undertaken in a designer workroom, textile wholesaler, fashion PR business, or as an assistant stylist for photo shoots. Students also study fashion and sustainability, fashion theory, entrepreneurship and business practices.


Click on the image below to view or download the prospectus


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BFA Honours  (Year Four)

BFA Honours students work independently on a self-chosen, concept-based collection that reflects original and critical thinking as well as an understanding of fashion and design theory. Students also study entrepreneurship.

Fashion Show

Students in years two, three and four showcase their work on the runway at the annual Whitecliffe Fashion Show, organise individual exhibitions and shows and participate in other Whitecliffe exhibitions.

Fashion Industry

Industry professionals provide invaluable feedback during individual student critique sessions and are regularly invited to lecture on industry topics. BFA graduates with a Fashion Design major gain employment nationally, as well as internationally, as designers, design assistants, workroom assistants, pattern makers, assistant buyers and merchandisers, assistant stylists, costumiers and design educators, as well as establishing their own labels.

Fashion Sustainability Focus

The Whitecliffe Fashion Design department has a strong focus on fashion sustainability with students being encouraged to embrace sustainable practices throughout their studies in the BFA programme. Sustainability is part of an expanding branch within the fashion industry that focuses on social responsibility and environmental impact through the ethical treatment of factory workers, use of sustainable and organic materials, disuse of harmful chemicals and dyes and reduction of textile waste. Whitecliffe students are given the opportunity to employ sustainable practices and natural dyeing to address contemporary concerns within the industry and enhance their own design practice.

In 2016, Whitecliffe introduced a new stream within the Master of Fine Arts for Fashion and Sustainability – offering postgraduate opportunities for Fashion Designers with an interest in ethical and sustainable fashion.

Click here to see work by Fashion Design students.

Click here to see Whitecliffe Fashion Show videos.