The main motive behind the idea of this institute was to fulfill the long-felt needs of the export-oriented garment industry to train manpower in fashion design, garment manufacturing technology and apparel marketing and merchandising.
NIFT has become one of the leading fashion schools of India, accepted as being on the lines of Fashion Institute of Technology and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. It is the founder member of "Fashion Schools' Foundation of the World", which comprises 34 fashion schools worldwide.
Many of the leading designers of India are NIFT alumni. In 2006, the Parliament passed the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Bill, 2005, thereby receiving a statutory status and empowering the institute to grant its own degrees and other academic distinctions. With its head office in New Delhi, NIFT has centers at Mumbai, Kolkata, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Raebareli, Patna, Shillong, Bhopal, Taliparamba, Bhubaneswar and Jodhpur where it offers four-year bachelor and two-year master programmes in the areas of Design, Management and Technology.