Fashion designers use their technical perspective and creative flair to work on designs for new and original clothing.
As a fashion designer, you’ll research current fashion trends, forecasting what will be popular with consumers, and take inspiration from the world around you to create fresh and original designs.
You’ll decide on fabrics, colors and patterns, produce sample designs and adjust them until you’re happy with the final product.
Depending on where you work and your level of responsibility, you may work to your own brief or be given a brief to work towards, with specifications relating to color, fabric and budget. In large companies, you’re likely to work as part of a team of designers, headed by a creative director, whereas if working for a small company as sole designer or for yourself, you’ll be responsible for all the designs.
You’ll typically specialize in one area of design, such as sportswear, children’swear, footwear or accessories, etc.
The main areas of work for fashion designers are:
High street fashion – this is where the majority of designers work and where garments are mass manufactured (often in Europe or East Asia). Buying patterns, seasonal trends and celebrity catwalk influences play a key role in this design process. It’s a commercial, highly media-led area to work in.
Ready-to-wear – also known as prêt-à-porter. Established designers create ready-to-wear collections, produced in relatively small numbers.
Haute couture – requires large amounts of time spent on the production of one-off garments for the catwalk, which are often impractical to wear. Designs usually endorse the brand and create a ‘look’.
Tasks depend on the market you’re working for, but you’ll typically need to:
- create or visualise an idea and produce a design by hand or using computer-aided design (CAD)
- create moodboards to show to clients
- keep up to date with emerging fashion trends as well as general trends relating to fabrics, colours and shapes
- plan and develop ranges, often based on a theme
- work with others in the design team, such as buyers and forecasters, to develop products to meet a brief
- liaise closely with sales, buying and production teams on an ongoing basis to ensure items suit the customer, market and price points
- understand design from a technical perspective, i.e. producing patterns and technical specifications for designs
- visit trade shows and manufacturers to source, select and buy fabrics, trims, fastenings and embellishments
- adapt existing designs for mass production
- develop a pattern that is cut and sewn into sample garments and supervise the creation of these, including fitting, detailing and adaptations
- oversee production
- negotiate with customers and suppliers
- showcase your designs at fashion and other trade shows
- work with models to try out your designs and also to wear them on the catwalk at fashion shows
- manage marketing, finances and other business activities, if working on a self-employed basis.
Experienced designers with larger companies may focus more on the design aspect, with pattern cutters and machinists preparing sample garments. In smaller companies these, and other tasks, may be part of the designer’s role.
What to expect?
- The working environment varies between companies, and can range from a Victorian-style factory to a modern, purpose-built office or a small design studio. Freelance designers may work from home or in a rented studio.
- With the increase in online retailing, setting up in business or being self-employed is becoming more common, even straight after graduation. Extensive market research and business acumen are critical for any fashion business to succeed.
- Career success relies on a combination of creativity, perseverance, resilience and good communication and networking skills.
- There are opportunities to travel to meet suppliers, research new trends and to attend trade and fashion shows, either in India or abroad.
Fashion design is a very competitive industry and you’ll typically need a degree, HND or foundation degree in a subject that combines both technical and design skills. Relevant subjects include:
- art and design
- fashion and fashion design
- fashion business
- fashion buying, marketing and communication
- garment technology
- graphic design
- textiles and textile design.
As you research courses, carefully look at the subjects covered, links the department has with the fashion industry and opportunities available for work placements, showcasing your work and building your portfolio.
Although you don’t need a postgraduate qualification, you may want to develop your skills in a particular area such as fashion design management, menswear or footwear.
If your degree is unrelated, you’ll need to get experience in the industry or a related area, such as fashion retail. You may want to consider taking a postgraduate qualification in fashion or textile design.
Entry without a degree is sometimes possible if you have a background in fashion or art and design, but you’ll need to get experience in the industry to develop your expertise.
You’ll need to show:
- creativity, innovation and flair
- an eye for colour and a feel for fabrics and materials
- the ability to generate ideas and concepts, use your initiative and think outside the box
- design and visualisation skills, either by hand or through computer-aided design (CAD)
- technical skills, including pattern cutting and sewing
- garment technology skills and knowledge
- a proactive approach
- commercial awareness and business orientation
- self-promotion and confidence
- interpersonal, communication and networking skills
- the ability to negotiate and to influence others
- team working skills
- good organisation and time management.
How your career develops will depend on the specific area of design you trained in, the work experience you’ve built up and your professional reputation. Another influencing factor will be the type of company you work for and the opportunities for career development within it.
Progression may be slow, particularly at the start of your career. Being proactive and making contacts in the industry is essential, especially in a sector where people frequently move jobs in order to progress their career and where there is a lot of pressure to produce new ideas that are commercially viable.
Typically, you’ll begin your career as an assistant. Design assistant roles differ widely, but common responsibilities include:
- sourcing and chasing fabric samples
- making up sample cards
- doing administrative and office tasks, such as answering the telephone and making tea.
Progression is then to a role with more creative input, involving proposing concepts and design ideas, although you’re unlikely to have much influence on major decisions. Other activities include:
- making up mood and trend boards and drawing up technical specifications for manufacturers
- producing samples for ranges
- assisting with the development of part of a range.
The more established designers in the team make the decisions on colour and mood for the season and design the more important elements of the range. It could take up to five years’ related experience to secure such a position.
With several years’ design experience, progression is possible through senior designer roles to the position of head designer or creative director. At this level, you’ll have considerable responsibility for overall design decisions and influences for the range, but as this is a management position others will do the actual design work.
Technical director and quality management positions represent alternative progression routes. Other career options in the fashion industry include:
- fashion illustrator
- fashion predictor
- fashion stylist
- pattern cutter/grader.
Fashion designers are increasingly becoming involved in homeware and gift design, which can open up new career paths.
There are also opportunities for self-employment or moving into related occupations, such as retail buying, photography, fashion styling or journalism.
Fashion designing is one of the most lucrative, appealing, glamorous and exciting career options in today’s world, if you have a penchant for creativity, style and originality, a career in fashion designing is the one tailor made for you. On one hand, the fashion industry satisfies both the creative fancies and the materialistic needs of the people. On the other hand, it promises glamour, fame, success and a high pay package to the talented people.
It is also a demanding career, as fashion designers need to combine their creativity with managerial skills to sustain in this industry. Thus, if you can create magic with colors, shapes and designs, here at Offers and Deals 365 we offer a platform for the budding fashion designers to showcase their designs. Build your career by joining our design team. Just submit below details and one of our team member will contact you shortly for the discussion.