Fashion Designers sketch out, create, and merchandise clothing items and accessories, such as jewelry and handbags. They are the ones who establish what’s in and what’s out, both setting the current trends and creating timeless designs. Since their imagination knows no limits, Fashion Designers may explore different areas of fashion to widen or sharpen their artistic vision, to improve their overall work and skills, or to expand their clothing or accessory selection.
Fashion Designers share their beautiful creations with the public by creating seasonal catalogs and coordinating runway shows. Some may also take advantage of social media, television channels, and other popular means of communication to develop and increase their brand’s reputation and gain exposure.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Fashion Designers are required to complete.
- Designing and creating garments and accessories for men, women, and/or children:
- Liaising with clients to define technical specifications for the garments and being knowledgeable about fabrics, patterns, shapes, and colors;
- selecting and testing different fabrics;
- designing any kind of clothing, from casual to more formal attire;
- using computer-aided design (CAD) tools and any other technological tools that allow them to digitize their work and be more efficient;
- using their artistic vision, knowledge, and skills to translate their ideas into sketches and fabrics into garments;
- cutting, pinning, and sewing fabric pieces together to make them become parts of a whole;
- knowing about pattern-making and fittings, creating patterns as needed; and
- tweaking and improving the designs.
- Providing design direction for each season, liaising with employees, suppliers, buyers, and merchandisers in order to create, share, and build new ideas, as well as setting new styles:
- Giving out clear instructions to Seamstresses and other employees;
- overseeing the production progress and ensuring deadlines are met; and
- creating and participating in sales presentations and marketing activities.
- Analyzing sales and creating products that support business objectives.
- Keeping up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and techniques, as well as finding the best quality fabrics:
- Exploring and evaluating new and emerging trends for fashion and graphics by going to stores, scouring the internet and magazines, and traveling to trade, fabric or fashion shows.
- Ensuring all pieces reflect the brand’s style and personality.
- Overseeing fitting sessions, taking notes, and arranging for the necessary adjustments to be made.
- Organizing, procuring, and maintaining fabrics, trims, and other materials.
- Liaising with colleagues and other members of the fashion industry in order to create trends and new styles.
- Conveying an idea through a sketch.
- Working with different fabrics.
- Researching trends, colors, and fabrics for the upcoming seasons.
- Testing materials, estimating costs, and establishing deadlines.
- Creating a network of vendors and suppliers.
The average Fashion Designer salary in USA is $43,470 per year or $22 per hour. This is around 1.5 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $30,000 while most experienced workers make up to $61,000. These results are based on 14 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Creativity and a strong artistic sense, always willing to try out new ideas:
- Having an excellent fashion sense and the ability to translate trends into garments.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to convey clear instructions;
- displaying strong customer service skills, as well as leadership; and
- being able to work cohesively with design assistants and other staff members.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- having time management and prioritization skills in order to satisfy the demand;
- being highly responsible, reliable, and organized;
- meeting deadlines; and
- having strong attention to detail.
- Self-motivated and willing to work independently, as well as part of a team.
In order to become a successful Fashion Designer, one needs to have a comprehensive knowledge of the industry, along with good instincts so as to foresee upcoming trends. Fashion Designers must also be experts at handling different types of fabrics, meaning they must be proficient in all areas of sewing and pattern-making.
Although a person doesn’t necessarily need a degree to enter this profession, it’s highly advisable to complete a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design, Fashion Technology, Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, Fabric Design, or other similar disciplines, as it is a common request among employers.
For Fashion Designers that want to go the extra mile and launch their own brand or clothing line, a degree in Business is an important asset. Another option is doing extensive research first in order to find information about start-up costs, design copyrights, licensing, manufacturing, and any other information specific to the clothing industry. It's important to have this information before starting a line in order to be fully prepared when the time to launch it arrives.
While there are plenty of entry-level jobs in the Fashion industry, the competition for them is one of the fiercest. The one thing that can make the difference between aspiring Fashion Designers is experience, which is something highly valuable and sought after by employers. The best way there is to gain experience in the world of Fashion is by participating in internship programs. Most Fashion Designers are required to have at least 3 years of experience in the field.
Fashion Designers must also be proficient in computer assisted designing (CAD) software applications, including Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, as well as Microsoft Office Suite.
The Fashion field is primarily talent-based and the more skilled Designers are, the more contacts and influential people they will be in touch with. Hence, most Fashion Designers rely heavily on their experience, network, and portfolio to reach new career opportunities. Aspirants can put together a portfolio with their own designs, the ones they create for their clients, and those used to participate in design contests.
Becoming a Fashion Designer is not an easy journey to pursue; it requires hard work and dedication for them to leave their mark in the Fashion world. Understandably, there’s no such thing as regular office hours in this deadline-driven industry—with a new collection being launched every season or so. Besides, the creative process of Fashion Designers never truly stops. It’s not uncommon for them to wake up during the middle of the night to lay down ideas or to spend long hours carrying out research and curating mood boards.
Fashion Designers are very likely to travel around the country or the world to present their designs, evaluate materials, or be part of famous fashion events. Most Designers are located in New York and California as they are the fashion capitals of the United States.