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.


Programme Overview

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 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.

Fashion Show

Students in Years Two, Three and BFA Honours showcase their work on the runway at the annual Whitecliffe Fashion Show, organise individual exhibitions and shows and participate in other Whitecliffe exhibitions.


Click on the image below to view or download the BFA FASHION DESIGN prospectus



TESTIMONIALS and NEWS at the bottom of this page.


For a personal tour or for any queries

Open Day 2019

Click on the image to download and print the Fashion Design Open Day flyer 


Life After BFA Fashion Design

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. 

BFA Year One

Year One for Fashion Design students includes a combination of both general arts and design with specialist Fashion Design courses that commence in Semester One. The programme covers practical and theoretical skills and knowledge where students develop core skills in design, drawing, materials and processes, together with critical and contextual studies.

Students wishing to specialise in Fashion Design will be required to complete the 5300 Studio Practice: Fashion Design course throughout the year. The course is considered fundamental to fashion design practice and will include a balance of contemporary and traditional skills and knowledge. For example, the course content may include the following: Sewing methods, Fashion studies, Pattern cutting and Garment construction and Adobe Illustrator for Fashion. 

Study includes supervised studio practice, lectures, tutorials and self-directed learning. Visual Theory, Cultural Studies, and Modern Art and Design History introduce the vocabulary of art history and contemporary theory in support of practical courses and fine art studio practice.  

Students also participate in intensive week-long workshops that enable them to collaborate in teams and/or work independently to produce collective creative outcomes. 

Critical and Contextual Studies

A fully integrated programme of critical and contextual studies supports all studio specialisms. Visual Theory initiates students into the language of critical discourse and critique. Students learn to analyse, critique, discuss, write and conduct research related to the practice of art and design. Cultural Studies and Modern Art and Design History assist students in positioning their art and design practice within a broader cultural and historical context.

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.

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.

NZ Diploma in Apparel & Fashion Technology (L5)

The Diploma programme pulls together the skills and knowledge of the two Certificate programmes and takes it to another level. You will use and refine advanced technical skills in patternmaking, fit, garment construction and production to create lingerie, swimwear and tailored garments. Use CAD and pattern aided design (PAD) to make, digitise and grade patterns, and learn to create digital drawings and storyboards. Gain New Zealand qualifications and extend your knowledge of textile technology and garment manufacturing. Commercial fashion design comes to life in exciting design projects, and you will design and make your own mini range for an end of year runway showcase.


Click on the image below to view NZ Fashion Tech Prospectus


NZ Certificate in Apparel & Fashion Technology – Patternmaking (L4)

This NZQF Level 4 programme builds on skills learnt in the Certificate in Fashion Technology programme and offers a wide range of core pattern making, cutting and production skills. It can lead to entry level employment opportunities such as machinist or trainee sample machinist with entry level pattern making/cutting skills, junior pattern maker, assistant cutter, or production assistant, and provide pathways into specific sections of the industry

Study body measurement, create blocks for men, women and children, and learn to make, adapt, test fit and grade a range of patterns for outerwear garments.Broaden your understanding of the terminology and techniques used in fashion garment production and gain New Zealand qualifications. Extend your fabric knowledge and learn basic computer tasks for garment production, and continue your journey into the realm of commercial fashion design.

NZ Certificate in Apparel & Fashion Technology

This NZQF Level 3 programme gives graduating students a wide range of core production skills common to all sewn products industries.It can lead to entry level employment as a machine operator, production or cutting room assistant, provide pathways into specific sections of the industry and is a firm foundation for further career development.

This entry level programme teaches practical, hands-on, technical skills used to construct full garments. Become familiar with industrial machinery, techniques and terminology necessary for fashion garment construction, and be introduced to fabric technology and patternmaking. Learn to use industry specific construction methods – such as collars, pockets, plackets, zips, facings and more – to make a range of full garments including skirts, shirts and trousers. Gain New Zealand qualifications and start your journey into the world of commercial fashion design.


Request More Information

Request more information today and we can help you get started! Give us a call at +64 9 309 5970 or 0800 800 300.


Applications for the February BFA intake close on 31 October of the previous year. (Late applications will be considered)


Read more student and graduate stories here

Maggie Hewitt

"Whitecliffe was hugely valuable in journeying me through my dreams to real life dreams. Whitecliffe challenged my design thinking and taught me practical skills that enabled me to make my designs become a reality."

Maggie Hewitt

Fashion Design


Blair Wheeler

"Whitecliffe served as a catalyst for my development, my brand BW and my vision. I was noticed through our end-of-year fashion shows, and have built strong relationships with important people in the fashion industry, with whom I still work with today. "

Blair Wheeler

Fashion Design



Fashion Design Department News