As Downtown Phoenix expands so do the various culture scenes within it. One that has experienced growth is the fashion industry. Within just the past few years, locals have taken it upon themselves to enrich the world around them with a focus on fashion.

The growth is in large part thanks to the educational programs that help develop the creative industry. Although Phoenix isn’t home to famed design schools such as FIDM or Parsons, it is the home for Phoenix College, which houses an exceptional fashion program for those looking to take a dip into the pool of fashion design.

The students who go through the program can thank Sylvia Phillips, instructor and chair of applied technology and family & consumer sciences. Phillips came to the college when it only offered a few fashion courses, and saw that students were interested in learning more, which drove her to enhance the fashion design program.

Sylvia Phillips shows a recent donation from the Phoenix Art Museum.

“It [the program] has changed a lot. We have added a lot of courses and our enrollment has grown a great deal,” Phillips said.

For a student to receive a degree they must successfully complete the two-year program of rigorous classes as well as complete an internship or a portfolio class. Phillips said, “When they complete the program they should be able to design and work in a costuming business as a costumer.”

Those who do not directly begin their fashion career often choose to further their education, with many Phoenix College graduates attending Parsons or the Fashion Institute of Technology after they complete the program. Phillips said she often hears from past students and loves to hear how they have furthered their careers.

“Our students are very diverse, very talented. They have a passion for fashion,” Phillips said of the roughly 300 students she sees each semester.

Students draw inspiration from fashion boards.

Although Phoenix College is not the only school to offer fashion design programs, they do believe they have something special to offer their students.

The program educates students in fashion design, pattern design, fashion illustration, apparel construction and costuming. Students learn various techniques first-hand, as well as they have the opportunity to work with some of the latest technology in computer-assisted pattern making and fashion design to further enhance their experiences at the college.

The students are also surrounded by fashion in their classrooms. Phoenix College has a fashion closet that has grown over the years thanks to donations from various donors, including the Phoenix Art Museum, that have helped to grow the collection to over a hundred items.

Here’s hoping the fashion closet grows, much like the program itself.