A fashion designer designs clothes, accessories, or shoes for consumers and retail companies. They create new designs that may use a variety of materials and specify the measurements of those designs. During the design process, they decide on fabrics, colors, styles, and accessories to put the design plan together.
Watch a video to learn what a fashion designer does.
How to Become a Fashion Designer
Most fashion designers have earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising or fashion design. An excellent place to start is looking at the National Association of Schools of Art and Design website. This organization accredits more than 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design, many including a degree in fashion design.
It is also a good idea to create a portfolio in high school and while attending college. Some schools even require students to have completed some essential art and design courses before entering a program. Fashion design programs usually include coursework in textiles, fabrics, and designs using computer-aided design technology (CAD).
These programs also help students build their portfolios for future job opportunities. In addition to school, it is crucial to gain experience in the fashion industry through internships or by working as an assistant designer. Internships give you direct hands-on experience in the design process, building your knowledge of textiles and colors and an opportunity to network and learn from experienced individuals.
In addition to college and internships, you must have an artistic ability, excellent communication skills, be proficient in using a computer, have creativity, be detail-oriented, and have decision-making abilities. These are all key qualities found in fashion designers.
Watch a video to learn what a fashion designer does.
Job Description of a Fashion Designer
A fashion designer primary job is to create clothing, footwear, or accessories. They follow fashion trends to help them to determine a design that would attract customers. Once a theme is decided upon, they create sketches of an original idea, put in a computer design program (CAD), and fine-tune as they go along. In many cases, a team will work on a prototype design and use models to determine how the design will look. Most fashion designers go through an approval process, especially when working for a company. If approved, the creation is then manufactured and sold to consumers. A design creation usually involves about six months of planning and design until the project is completed.
Typically fashion designers work long hours, and about 25% are employed through wholesalers or manufacturers. These companies usually sell apparel and accessories to retailers or other marketers for distribution to individual stores, catalog companies, or online retailers. Many are also self-employed and specialize in custom apparel. Fashion designers often visit manufacturers and trade shows to obtain samples of fabrics and follow fashion trends. Many pull creative inspiration from their environment, travels, and other cultures. This career field is competitive, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you must be willing to relocate. Most jobs are in New York or Calfornia.
Fashion designers may also visit manufacturers and trade shows to obtain samples of fabrics and follow fashion trends. They may also pull creative inspiration from their environment, travels, and other cultures. Some designers prefer to specialize in a certain area such as clothing, costumes, footwear or accessory design. Some start their own design company or sell designs to retail stores. They are also employed by high-fashion houses that offer personalized design services to clients.
Fashion Design Career Video Transcript
Do you love clothes, and sketching outfits from your own imagination? Fashion designers get the chance to make their ideas a reality in this competitive industry. Fashion designers create designs for garments and accessories using pencil and paper or computer-aided design. They start by making a detailed pattern, then cut it into fabric or other materials to construct a sample of their design. These professionals travel to trade shows, manufacturers, and fashion shows to stay on top of changing trends and find new materials. From an initial sketch to the first version of the garment, the designer can expect long hours, hectic deadlines, and clients who are perfectionists. Fashion designers are almost as likely to be self-employed as they are to work for large brands and labels. They often consult with executives and a sales team to choose a theme for their seasonal lineup.
The fortunate and talented few ultimately win their own label, catering to individual clients or stores. Most aspiring designers obtain a college or trade school education in fashion design. A portfolio (a collection of designs and completed projects) is required to apply for most positions. Making a name for yourself as a fashion designer is difficult, but the thought of fame waiting at the end of the show, is a great motivator.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fashion Designers.
National Center for O*NET Development. 27-1022.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.