Founded in 1934, The School of Fashion Design is the only educational institution in Massachusetts dedicated exclusively to the study of fashion design. We provide students with a solid foundation in apparel design and construction that you won’t find anywhere else. We offer small, hands-on classes taught by expert faculty in professional studio workrooms, and our Newbury Street location is the heart of the Boston fashion district.
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Mission & History
The School of Fashion Design is committed to excellence in educating students in the complete fashion design process, from creation and innovation to comprehensive technical expertise, so that they are prepared to become leaders in the global fashion design industry. At the School of Fashion Design, you learn how to be the best.
Over 80 years of experience affords The School of Fashion Design a unique perspective and expertise in providing a comprehensive and competitive fashion education.
The originally-named Modern School of Applied Art first opened its doors in 1934 during the Great Depression and on the cusp of the golden age of Hollywood. Visionary founders
Carolyn L. Dewing (Radcliffe), Donald Smith-Feeley (Parsons School of Design), and later Lucy R. Robertson (LaSalle). The original location at 687 Boylston Street was at the time a notable Boston landmark, the building flanked by two great Kensington stone lions, which now front the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Copley Square.
In 1936 Mrs. Isobel Sinesi (Avon University, Boston University, and Rhode Island School of Design) joined the faculty and expanded the curriculum to include fashion design. Mrs. Sinesi served the School faithfully first as instructor, then beginning in 1952 as Director, and finally as Director Emerita from 1978-1997.
The School of Fashion Design persevered through World War II. In the 1950s, Bobby-soxers, American Bandstand and poodle skirts were trending. So was the idea of specialization, or a concentration in one area of applied art training. As a response to the changing economy and work force demands, The School was reorganized as a non-profit corporation in 1955 and renamed the Modern School of Fashion Design. The operation moved to Boston’s “fashion-way” on Newbury Street in 1956, and has since concentrated exclusively on training in fashion design.
The student body of the sixties witnessed Flower Power, the Space Race, the Civil Rights Movement and Camelot - the legendary Kennedy years in the White House. In 1967, the Directors renamed the School The School of Fashion Design (SFD). In 1968, SFD was relocated to its own permanent building at 136 Newbury Street, at the heart of Back Bay’s haute couture salons and boutiques and art galleries.
Annie Hall, Disco and Women's Lib defined the seventies, while the 80's were all about excess and success, with shows like 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' dominating the airwaves. The nineties marked 'The End of Fashion' with grunge and anti-fashion trends. The new millennium brought opportunity for innovation in technology, fabric, and manufacturing with performance fashion.
Today, The School of Fashion Design is the only educational institution in Massachusetts dedicated exclusively to the study of fashion design. SFD alumni are industry leaders in Boston, New York, across the country, and around the globe. Our students and alumni are exploring new technologies like 3D printing in their designs. After more than 80 years in the business, the future never looked brighter for fashion!
SFD Founders and Former Directors
Co- Founder, 1934
President, 1934- 1966
President Emeritus, 1966-1976
Carolyn L. Dewing
Instructor, 1936- 1978
Director Emerita, 1978-1997
Richard F. Alartosky
former SFD President Emeritus and former Director, 1966 - 1999
A.B., A.M., Boston University
Graduate Research Scholar,
Delegacy for Extra Mural Studies, Oxford, England
former Director, 2001-2015
B.S., Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA
Dr. Denise Hammon,
former SFD President Emerita, 2015-2018
Welcome to the School of Fashion Design!
I am passionate about supporting people in living a creative life. I am delighted that you have found the School of Fashion Design and are exploring an education in fashion. Succeeding in fashion requires knowledge, skill, and technique. SFD is a studio school that offers the most comprehensive education in all aspects of the apparel industry. We support students in bringing their vision to reality.
Founded in 1934, the School of Fashion Design provides students with a foundation in apparel design and construction of the highest quality. Our personalized program, delivered in our friendly and welcoming studio school, provides experiential classes taught by masters in the field of fashion design. SFD is the only school in New England dedicated exclusively to apparel design. This focus, coupled with our 8:1 teacher/student ratio distinguishes our program from the rest.
The student experience at SFD is rooted in our Newbury Street location, the heart of Boston’s fashion district. From the luxury brands to new boutique lines, you’ll find endless inspiration on Newbury Street. Many SFD students and alumni find exciting internships and work just steps from our door!
Whether you are a novice or an expert, taking courses at SFD allows you to join a global community of emerging and established designers. Though we serve students from around the globe, our diversity extends to personal and professional backgrounds and level of experience. Our studios are filled with recent high school graduates, working professionals embarking on a new career path, students from area colleges enriching their education with our fashion courses, and even students with advanced degrees who are now pursuing their dream of an education and career in fashion.
SFD faculty and students are also active partners in our local community, collaborating regularly with area theaters, museums, libraries, civic organizations, local businesses, and neighboring colleges. Our reputation for excellence is on display each time our students show their work outside the classroom at the many fashion shows and exhibit opportunities available to our students throughout the year.
With an SFD Certificate in Fashion Design, our esteemed group of alumni are industry leaders around the globe, have enjoyed design careers with Adidas, American Eagle, Bergdorf Goodman, Coach, J. Jill, Nieman Marcus, PUMA, Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Talbots, Timberland, and Zac Posen and more. Several alumni are also designers and costumers for stage and screen, including Cirque du Soleil, while others have found success launching their own brand.
Our varied class levels and flexible schedules are designed to meet the needs and profiles of all students. So whatever your level, background, or career goals, I invite you to take the next step in gaining the skills to match your passion for fashion.
Michelle Simpson, M.S.
An education leader, innovator and brand strategist, Michelle has more than 20 years of experience in public and independent classrooms and has consulted with schools and learning centers in the U.S., China, Dubai and India.
Previously, Michelle served as the director of environmental education at Northfield Mount Hermon School and the executive director at Oak Meadow, a progressive K-12 school in Brattleboro, VT. She also founded the Intentional Classroom, which creates learning spaces to cultivate 21st-century skills, meet programmatic goals and foster a sense of stewardship among school communities. She has provided leadership in the progressive, experiential education sector for the past decade, presenting on tradition and innovation in K-16 education at conferences such as SxSWedu, National Association of Independent Schools, National Partnership for Educational Access, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. Her writing has appeared in Independent Ideas, Living Education and parent.com. She earned her bachelor's degree in education and English at the University of Rhode Island and her master's in environmental studies at Antioch University New England, and attended Harvard's Women in Education Leadership program.
"I am delighted to serve an institution with such distinctive history and lasting relevancy," says Simpson, "and excited to be part of a talented team developing innovative programs to prepare SFD students for the fashion industry of the future."
Jennifer has over 20 years communications experience. Before the School of Fashion Design, clients included Boston’s Old State House, Boston Sculptors Gallery artists, Northeast Youth Ballet, and SchoolSMARTS. Jennifer is a Mayor-appointed committee member of Melrose Messina Fund for the Arts. Prior to her work in Boston, Jennifer managed public relations for the City of San José, CA, where she supervised the communications outreach across 19 City departments to over 925,000 residents, and led internal communications to the City’s 5,000 employees.
Earlier, Jennifer was Communications Coordinator for Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley, encouraging thought leaders to be supportive of local arts, and editing research publications examining Silicon Valley amateur arts participation and its effect on civic engagement. Jennifer was a startup employee at iTheo.com, an online market for Bay Area artists, connecting them to collectors and providing marketing tools and business services. Jennifer is a past President of the Board of Directors of Cambridge Art Association, and 2004 VP of the Board of Works/San José contemporary art and performance center. Jennifer has a B.F.A. in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College.
Director of Community Relations
The Boston Globe refers to Jay Calderin as "a budding designer's best friend.” He is the author of The Fashion Design Reference & Specification Book (formerly Form, Fit, Fashion), which the LA Times called, "a new fashion bible for designers, aspirers and the just plain curious, this tome contains all the secrets." The Library Journal said, “In 100 short articles embellished with full-color photos and illustrations, Calderin brings even highly conceptual and esoteric fashion design ideas down to earth” about his second book Fashion Design Essentials. He collaborated on Fashion Design, Referenced, and was a contributor to Native Fashion Now, the book that accompanied the Peabody Essex Museum's exhibit of the same name. What They Didn’t Teach You in Fashion School is his latest book. Internationally acclaimed couturier Ralph Rucci says, "The importance of Jay Calderin's book truly cannot be overstated. Not only is it important to show what the human hand can do, but equally as necessary is to guide young people through the process of working in this field. This book provides readers with that wide and deep overview.”
Calderin founded Boston Fashion Week and has served as the organization's Executive Director since 1995. In 2012 he was appointed Creative Director of the first Chengdu Fashion Week in China. His work as a fashion designer has graced the pages of Vogue and Elle magazines. He held the office of Regional Director of the Fashion Group International of Boston (FGI Boston) from 2009-2010 and has served on the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts (DIGMA) Design Advisory Council since 2008. In 2015 Jay was invited to serve on the Leadership Council for Boston Creates - a citywide cultural planning process led by the Mayor of Boston's Office of Arts and Culture. Jay was honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay as Big Brother of the Year in 2009, by Youth Design as Mentor of the Year in 2014, and in 2018 by the Boston Arts Academy for his achievements in fashion.
Board of Trustees
Peter M. Frasca, Esq., LL.M., Chairman
Jane Conway, Clerk
Dominic D’Alessandro, Alumni ‘66
Donald H. LaLiberte, CPA
Dr. Denise Hammon, President Emerita
Ex-Officio Board Member
SFD in the community
The School of Fashion Design is a vital partner not only on Newbury Street, but also with the larger Boston fashion community. Faculty and students have collaborated with local and national theaters, museums, libraries, civic organizations, local businesses, and other area colleges, and participated in numerous charitable events over the decades.
Recent collaborations include:
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Cirque du Soleil
City of Boston
DeScience at MIT Media Lab
Fashion Group International
Greater Boston Toys for Tots
The Institute of Contemporary Art
Peabody Essex Museum
Salon Eva Michele
Simon Malls at Copley Place
Speakeasy Stage Company
UA Committee on Sustainability & MIT
SFD in the News!
2017 - June 1
My South End News
School of Fashion Design honors Faucher
2017 - June 16
The School of Fashion Design presents Collection 2017
2016 – May 24
Marshfield resident attends School of Fashion Design
2016 – May 21
Stoughton resident receives Fashion Academy Certificate of Completion
Newbury Street, Boston
With eight blocks of gorgeous brownstone architecture, Newbury Street is one of the hottest shopping streets in America, offering hundreds of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and salons.
It is Boston’s fashion boulevard: our 5th Avenue, our Rodeo Drive, our Champs-Élysées. Shops run the range between the major labels and urban bohemian boutiques. Hundreds of thousands of people stroll and enjoy Newbury Street each year. Many of our students have internships or our graduates work on Newbury Street.
Stretching between Boston’s beautiful Public Gardens and Massachusetts Avenue (which provides access across the Charles River into Cambridge), all the streets intersecting Newbury Street are quaintly alphabetically organized: Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford.
The School of Fashion Design is at the epicenter of this renowned fashion boulevard, at 136 Newbury Street, between Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets.
This is part of what makes the School of Fashion Design the heart of Boston fashion.
SCHOOL SPIRIT STORE
Show your school spirit with our official SFD gear!
SFD HERITAGE COLLECTION
We've selected 16 images from our historical archives of SFD Collection Posters and created a wonderful assortment of products!
Click here for most frequently asked questions!
School of Fashion Design
136 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
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