To become an elite fashion designer in the highly competitive fashion industry, student designers need to rely on more than just raw talent and creative brilliance.

Students who are embarking on their education and career in fashion can build upon sketching skills and drawing concepts by studying the following textbooks:

“Fashion Design Essentials: 100 Principles of Fashion Design” by Jay Calderin

Students applying to top fashion design schools can refer to the Fashion Design Essentials to prep for their career in fashion. Jay Calderin’s “Fashion Design Essentials: 100 Principles of Fashion Design” is an excellent resource for inspiration and indispensable information. Calderin, a fashion industry expert at Boston’s School of Fashion Design, offers a plethora of content for young, talented designers who are just starting out.’s book review from Renee Mallett recommends this book as a valuable resource for timeless fashion advice and images that professionals can even use as a guide during any stage in their career.

Designers can expect the book to offer the following:

  • Easy to understand concepts with beautiful imagery
  • Photos of historic, iconic fashions
  • Tips for great fashion using basic wardrobe staples
  • Insight for creating a fashion identity and styling prowess
  • Fashion theories acquired by an esteemed expert whose designs have been embraced by Vogue and Elle magazines

“Fashion Design: Process, Innovation and Practice (2nd Edition)” by Kathryn McKelvey and Janine Munslow

Fashion experts Kathryn McKelvey and Janine Munslow at Northumbria University offer “Fashion Design: Process, Innovation and Practice” as an analytical textbook that focuses on logical processes for achieving commercial success. A student embarking in the competitive world of fashion design will learn about design projects, portfolios and problem-solving approaches.

Students can strive to meet market needs through exercises and learning about:

  • Versatility development and experimentation
  • Computer-aided design
  • Employment opportunities

Kathryn McKelvey, a Northumbrian University Reader, illustrator and designer, has professional experience in drawing and visual communication as well as fashion research and industry forecasting. Janine Munslow runs design label partnership Guerilla Farm with international wholesale and fashion outlets.

“9 Heads: A Guide to Drawing Fashion (3rd Edition)” by Nancy Riegelman

“9 Heads” refines the sketching skills of a novice designer by offering developed thinking and viewpoints. The textbook focuses on black and white drawings and outlines the expectations of an end product and how to achieve design excellence. Nancy Riegelman has taught drawing at top institutions, including the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), and she’s also head of the Art Center College’s new fashion and fashion illustration department. With her brilliant talent and extensive years of experience, Riegelman offers fashion newcomers a new style of finished drawing. Coincided with her “Colors for Modern Fashion,” Riegelman’s key points include more rendered garment fabrics and drawing elements in modern fashion.

The revised textbook also offers information for:

  • Men’s and children’s fashions
  • Fabric shows and identification
  • Hair, face and hand drawings
  • Modern garment flats and croquis
  • Technical and apparel design reviewers recommend “9 Heads” for its easy-to-understand instructions, comprehensiveness and inspirational ideas.

“The instructions and the ‘9 heads’ theory (nine heads make up the human body) are very simple and easy to understand. I love that she uses the ‘box’ method to help you draw faces. I have never been an artist and this book helped me to draw some fabulous fashion sketches.”

“This book is great because it helps you understand how to draw details like buttons, zippers and ruffles. My students find inspiration for new ideas here. The best part of the book is all the flats. I also like how comprehensive the book is. It covers children’s, men’s and women’s wear.”

“Colors for Modern Fashion (CFMF)” by Nancy Riegelman

Riegelman’s “CFMF” fosters innovative ideas with expert skills and techniques. The textbook focuses on drawing methods using colored markers, photo sequences and textural explanations. “CFMF” serves as a modern garment drawing guide that incorporates technique applications and photos.

Students can also rely on “CFMF” for:

  • Covering color and design theory
  • Illustrating concepts with fashion examples
  • Explaining how a wide range of fabrics are used in modern design
  • Inspiring future fashion designers of all skill sets and abilities customer reviewers and fans of Riegelman describe the book as great and very helpful.

“The illustrations are marvelous. The techniques she discusses are easy to understand and use…This is definitely a must have for all illustrators and for people who love to draw.”

“Words cannot describe the amount of inspiration and resourceful information that ‘Colors of Modern Fashion’ holds…Apparently, the rest of the world has caught on [to] this great book because I have seen it throughout my travels in London, Paris, New York, and LA.”

“Fashion Sketchbook (6th Edition)” by Bina Abling

Bina Abling, a previous instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design, offers “Fashion Sketchbook” for emerging design students. Her sketchbook unveils the fashion drawing process with colorful images and updated instructional text. She easily conveys ideas using simple drawing lessons and easy-to-follow directions.

“Fashion Sketchbook’s” book description tells readers to expect the following subject matters in detail:

  • Men, women and children drawings
  • Figure poses
  • Accessory sketches and garment details
  • Flats and specs preparation
  • Lessons on diverse drawing skills
  • Showroom and runway photos from Women’s Wear Daily

Drawing instructors and fashion lovers refer to “Fashion Sketchbook” as “the ONLY book you will ever need as a designer. This is the Bible of fashion illustration.”

“This is the authority on illustrating for fashion. Abling’s attention to detail and artistic ability make her a perfect tutor on the topic, and every explanation is clear.”

“This is an excellent and comprehensive book for all fashion design students who wish to learn the art of fashion illustration or for anyone who desires to perfect their skills.”

“Fashion Design Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques: The Practical Guide for Aspiring Fashion Designers” by Steven Faerm

BFA Director of Fashion Design at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City, Steven Faerm invites the next generation of professional fashion designers into the glamorous fashion design industry with his “Fashion Design Course.” Faerm introduces the content of his book with design principles, a look at the fashion industry’s history and the industry’s most influential designers.

Through tutorials, exercises and more than 450 color illustrations, Faerm offers step-by-step design instruction for:

  • Sportswear
  • Tailored business garments
  • Denim
  • Active wear
  • Cocktail and evening wear
  • Children’s and men’s clothing
  • Accessories

Aspiring fashion designers will also gain expert insight on how to create a portfolio and collection, including advice from industry leaders. customers who have purchased “Fashion Design Course” highly rate the textbook with the following reviews:

“If you read fashion magazines then you are going to enjoy this book tremendously. FULL COLOR, straight to the point, concise, yet powerful information. It is a book that gives you inspiration and shows you how to think and plan like a fashion designer.”

“As an aspiring designer who’s still in school, I found this book to be a comprehensive book on the study of fashion design. The author’s prolific use of illustrations and photos to visually depict the concepts — and they’re from students! — is very helpful in making sure the reader understands what the author’s talking about.”

About two weeks ago, we posted on the Facebook page a link to an infographic titled “Revealing the Business of eBooks.” The visual was created in conjunction between Aptara, a multi-channel digital-content provider heavily involved with in educational publications, and Publishers Weekly, the publishing (and to some extent, bookselling) industry’s leading trade magazine.

The infographic was based upon “The 4th Annual ebook Survey of Publishers” (registration required), which “represents the Consumer, Professional, Education, and Corporate publishing sectors” and was “designed to document the evolving impact of digital media on traditional content publishing and production.” Important results from the survey include:

  • 31% of eBook publishers produce enhanced eBooks, though only 12% correlate the enhancements with a positive impact on sales.
  • is the most popular sales channel, used by 68% of eBook publishers. Apple’s iBookstore comes in second at 58%.
  • Amazon is also the most lucrative eBook sales channel. Publishers’ own websites come in a distant second place for generating the most eBook sales.
  • 4 out of 5 publishers now produce eBooks, a 30% increase in three years.

The survey was completed in April 2012 and the infographic posted on  Aptara’s site on October 4, 2012. Interestingly enough, just two days before on October 2, in remarks addressed to the National Press Club, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for a speedy departure from printed textbooks in favor of embracing digital ones. In a bold statement, Duncan said, “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete,” citing a need to not only keep up with the times but also with other countries such as South Korea, whose students outperform those of the U.S. and which has set a goal to use entirely digital textbooks and learning solutions by 2015.* “The world is changing,” Duncan said. “This has to be where we go as a country.”

But is it and do we? And is this really the way to do so? Don’t get us wrong, we think digital books have definite advantages and we love enhanced learning solutions that take eBooks from PDFs read on the screen to collaborative experiential environments with all sorts of interaction and quizzes and links and live help. But we see this as more of a complement to print books and reading on the page rather than a replacement. And we’re not alone.

In “Long Live Paper,” his op-ed piece for the New York Times, Tufts University Assistant Professor Justin B. Hollander argues that “While e-readers and multimedia may seem appealing, the idea of replacing an effective learning platform with a widely hyped but still unproven one is extremely dangerous.” Professor Hollander then likens moving entirely to digital books and away from print to “when cars began to fill America’s driveways, and new highways were laid across the land, the first thing cities did was encourage the dismantling of our train systems. Streetcar lines were torn up. A result, for many cities, was to rip apart the urban core and run highways through it, which only accelerated the flow of residents, commerce and investment to the suburbs. But in recent years, new streetcar lines have been built or old systems extended . . . They are casting aside a newer technology in favor of an older one.”

Hollander bolsters his stance by citing examples of how CDs replaced phonographs, digital cameras replaced Polaroids, and cars replaced bicycles and walking . . . only for record players, instant and retro-photography, and bikes to all make comebacks and be hotter today than ever. Sure, people often cite that while CDs may sound crisper, digital cameras have a higher resolution, and cars are faster, there is an emotional and sensory experience that they all lack and that one finds in the older technology they replaced. Something about us just loves putting the needle to the record, shaking a Polaroid to see it develop, and pedaling to create our own motion. And the same is true of the pleasures of holding a bound book made of cloth and paper as you turn pages printed with ink.

Hollander says, “In other words, we shouldn’t jump at a new technology simply because it has advantages; only time and study will reveal its disadvantages and show the value of what we’ve left behind. Which brings us back to paper. With strength and durability that could last thousands of years, paper can preserve information without the troubles we find when our most cherished knowledge is stuck on an unreadable floppy disk or lost deep in the ‘cloud.'” He then elaborates, “Paper textbooks can be stored and easily referenced on a shelf. Data are as easy to retrieve from paper as reaching across your desk for a textbook. They are easy to read and don’t require a battery or plug. Though the iPad and e-readers have increasingly better screen clarity, the idea that every time a person reads a book, newspaper or magazine in the near future they will require an energy source is frightening.”

So says Professor Hollander and so agrees John D. Williams, president and CEO of Domtar, one of North America’s largest producers of business, office, printing, and publishing papers. Williams describes his work as “promoting a reasonable balance of ‘pixels and print.’” And as one might expect from a paper-guy, Williams is in no hurry for digital learning solutions to replace printed textbooks and he’s got the goods to back up his stance. He cites the following (and more) in “Textbooks Should Soon Be Obsolete? Not So Fast, Here’s Why,” his op-ed for the Charlotte Observer:

  • Cambridge University researchers studied the efficacy of learning on screen compared with paper, and concluded that paper is a better tool for fully assimilating information. They based this conclusion on a number of factors ranging from the ease and speed of visually locating content on a printed page compared with a screen, to the distractions of reading online, and the functionality of a screen-based document compared to a printed version (e.g. note taking, document sharing).
  • A recent Kindle DX pilot project, sponsored by Amazon at seven U.S. universities, yielded interesting findings. At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, 75 to 80 percent of participating MBA students said they would not recommend the Kindle for in-class learning. Michael Koenig, Darden’s director of MBA operations, explained that the students felt the eReader was too rigid for use in the fast-paced classroom environment, noting that you can’t move between pages, documents, charts and graphs simply or easily enough compared with the paper alternatives.

So it seems that Education Secretary Duncan is correct in his belief that digital textbooks and enhanced learning solutions are very important, but rather as a complement rather than a replacement to print textbooks and reading on the page. Also worth noting is that investing in technology alone is not what will help U.S. students match test scores of South Korean students. That will take a much-larger and broader-scope investment in teachers, curriculum development, parental involvement in student success, and basic school facilities. It’s not about technology so much as it is about total learning and teaching students how to think and solve and continue learning beyond the book, the computer, and the classroom. In the meantime, let’s not deny those students the benefits and pleasures of flipping the pages of a captivating work of English literature or referring to diagrams in a chemistry textbook spread across the desk, beaming bright how elements interact without  needing plugged into an outlet.

*Correction: In its story, The Associated Press reported that South Korea had set a goal to make all of its textbooks digital by 2015. In June, South Korea modified the plan to exclude some grades and to allow paper textbooks to be used alongside digital books while paper books are phased out.