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, forecast 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.
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 the 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’s wear, footwear or accessories.
Types of Fashion Designer
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 – 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. 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 visualize an idea and produce a design by hand or using computer-aided design (CAD)
- create mood boards to show to clients
- keep up to date with emerging fashion trends as well as general trends relating to fabrics, colors, 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 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, maybe part of the designer’s role.
You’ll need to show:
- creativity, innovation, and flair
- an eye for color and a feel for fabrics and materials
- the ability to generate ideas and concepts, use your initiative and think outside the box
- design and visualization 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 influence others
- team working skills
- good organization and time management.
The culture of the industry is very much that people learn on the job. However, self-development is important throughout your career, and you’ll need to take responsibility for keeping your skills and knowledge up to date.
Initially, any training is likely to be related to learning about the practical processes that your employer uses and covering any relevant technological developments. Larger firms may provide business and computer training, which could include computer-aided design (CAD) or other specialists software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
Reading the trade press and fashion blogs, attending trade and fashion shows, and visiting suppliers are also important for keeping up to date with trends and fashions.
Written by: Azar Sabri