Opening the Door to a Creative Future Sector Profile

August 14, 2018

Santa Ana College (SAC) offers three associate degrees and ten certificates in the exciting field of fashion design, merchandising, and product development. In California, the number of jobs in the fashion design industry is expected to grow 13.8 percent by 2024.

With the support of an advisory board including representatives from leading surf and sportswear apparel names, luxury brands, and independent designers, the cutting-edge program keeps up to date with industry needs.

Recent grants from the Vocational & Technical Education Act and the SAC Foundation have advanced the program with the addition of 3D body scanner, industrial sewing machines, an embroidery machine and software, a vinyl cutter, and a direct to garment printer.

“The SAC Fashion Design and Merchandising program is one of the Southern California apparel industry’s best kept secrets,” said department chair Kyla Benson. “I don’t know of any other community college with a program as technologically advanced as ours.”

Within one year, students can earn a certificate paving the way to an entry-level job. New certificates include Quinceanera Dress Design, Screen Printing & Embroidery, and Costume Design.


Kellie Thorne, Santa Ana College

Fashion Design & Merchandising student

A 27-year-old Santa Ana resident, she is a second-year student who already has her bachelor’s degree. Her goal is to earn an associate degree in fashion design and certificates in costume design, dressmaking and alterations, and quinceanera dress design. With the help of the department chair, she landed a part-time job as a technical design assistant at La Jolla Group. Eventually, she would like to be an independent designer.

“I have learned so many skills at SAC. People are surprised I have been in the industry only two years. The teachers are so helpful; I love this program. When I leave, I will have a really good foundation.”
– Kellie Thorne, Santa Ana College Student