Fashion Designer Beginners Guide

Defining the Role of a Fashion Designer 

A fashion designer creates designs for clothing and accessories. In addition, they bring those sketchy designs to fruition. Either by sewing them on their own or overseeing their creation by employees or manufacturers.

However, each fashion designer has his or her own aesthetic, and which evolves over time. Especially as the fashion designer trends and or the designer’s vision change.

Fashion Designer Guide
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Being a fashion designer involves more than just sketching a design.

For instance, fashion designers often use special computer-aided design (CAD) software(s). Additionally, the fashion designer is skilled at sewing, and also familiar with the color theory.

Particularly the many different types of materials used to make garments and accessories. Moreover, they must also be aware of the business side of fashion, including merchandising and marketing.

Becoming a Fashion Designer

Many fashion designers receive their training through a fashion designer program, especially at a college or university. Some attend schools dedicated to the study of fashion design, while others choose programs based in traditional colleges.

Fashion design degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Some schools even offer MBA programs that focus on the business side of the fashion industry. Those who want to enter a fashion design program are often expected to develop basic skills before applying.

A fashion program may require prospective students to submit their portfolio and pass design and sewing tests when they apply. Designers may teach themselves these skills or take classes to develop these skills before college.

Training and Learning

Students in fashion design programs learn about textiles, sketching, sewing, draping, and creating patterns with the help of CAD software. They also learn about the history of fashion, trend forecasting, and the business of fashion.

Students may create their own collection as a senior project. Collections and other student work can be valuable additions to a designer’s portfolio.

In most cases, designers pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees may focus on a particular type of design. Including, children’s wear, intimate apparel, knitwear, or even sportswear.

Design students in some programs take on internships to put their knowledge to work under the guidance of experienced professionals at large design houses or in fashion merchandising.

Certification or Licensure

There are no licensure or certification requirements to become one. However, you’ll become proactive in creating new leads, closing bigger deals and also keeping longterm clients. For instance, imagine yourself designing for The Kardashians Family.

Additionally, you could find yourself in bigger deals than just an individual customer. For example, you could become a lead costume designer for a whole set of movie, film, public figure or even your top rated politician. Does that not ring a stronger sound to you?

Aspects of a Lucrative Fashion Designer

1. Principal Interest

You may need to start at the bottom but you do need to have some goals in mind as to the type of designing you want to undertake lifelong.

Are you interested most in haute couture, ready-to-wear, fitness/leisure gear, the mass market or niches such as eco wear? Each has advantages and disadvantages that you’ll need to explore before reaching your final decision on which pathway to pursue.

2. Real needs before your Fame or Ego

Looking cool is fine, but it won’t sell garments by itself. If you are planning to become a fashion designer, you will not only make apparel for yourself or for famous people. You can’t be making a living out of that: they’re not even 1% of the population.

Even though you see big names in magazines: it’s an advertisement, not the reality. It doesn’t work that way. Designers are especially needed for people with real, imperfect bodies that still want to look their best. Having a snob attitude will blind you from making money. Reality is: you don’t design for yourself, you design for others.

3. Customer and Clients Needs

This skill is basic and essential and it’s one a fashion designer must never lose sight of. Know how much your customers spend, what their lifestyles are, where they like to shop, how they like to shop and what they like and dislike.

Know what are absolute needs and what are the things that only get bought when disposable incomes are less tight. If you have done marketing, you should have a solid understanding of how to work out customers’ needs.

If you happen to live in a very warm country, you will have a tough time selling ski jackets. Look around you. What do real people need and want? For example, if you plan on designing a complete collection, you will need more tops that bottoms because most people have more tops than bottoms in their wardrobe in general.

Tops are great to change your looks while a plain nice fitting pant will match most of your tops. Keep it simple and realistic. 

Fashion Designer Sketching App
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Extravagant sketches are nice on paper, but great tops and jeans will sell out in more interesting numbers than evening dresses.

4. Your unique Fashion Designer Signature

Mass-market may not sound as glamour as evening or luxury wear, but it will get you a long way and pay your groceries. If you have to create a style that will be produced more than a hundred times, you need to make it right from the start.

It will improve your designing skills as you will have to understand perfectly the garment you are about to sell. Bad styles will get you returns and cost quite a bunch of money to your boss.

There is an entire supply chain involved in the fashion industry and you need to understand what each person’s job is so that you can see things from their perspective too, in order to make compromises, meet demands and understand where things get held up.

Research what others do, such as buyers, merchandisers, pattern cutters, garment and fabric technologists, quality controllers, graders, sample machinists, sales people, PR and marketing people, fashion journalists, retailers, event organizers, fashion stylists and so forth.

5. Motivation and Inspiration

As a matter of fact, get motivation and inspirations from your surroundings. Especially, observe the different aspects that define and singles out your top target clients. Including, gender, race, origin, culture and also your competitors around the market. 

Observe and note the fabric they are using; the zipper size they use (for their garments to be strong enough for its usage); fabric quality for its properties such as impermeability, comfort, breathability or care; colors that sell in your country. Starting from your competitors’ qualities is not copying: it’s observation.

With taking the best of every piece and analyzing it, you will understand what makes a “favorite” piece of clothing. They are usually best sellers. Your customers (whether they are buyers for stores or regular people) want something that looks good on them in the first place. Extravagant pieces are worn only a few days a year, they’re great, but they may not bring you a salary to live with.

6. Tests and Evaluation of your Subjects

What is your absolute strength in designing? Perhaps you’re a whizz at accessories or a genius with yoga pants. Your passion and skill are an important first part of the equation.

Of course, the second part is matching this to what the market wants, which in fashion, is part of convincing the market and part noticing what the market is demanding.

As a creative person, part of your creative process is being around like people and sparking off their ideas and suggestions too. It’s a lot harder to do this alone or working alongside people who aren’t into your fashion approaches.

You might wish to straddle a few but, to begin with, don’t over-extend yourself as it’s better to perfect your designing within one area and then experiment when you’ve already got a good foothold in the industry. For example:

  • Women’s daywear, women’s evening wear
  • Men’s daywear, men’s evening wear
  • Boys’ wear and/or girls’ wear; teenage wear
  • Sportswear/fitness/leisure wear
  • Knitwear
  • Outdoor, adventure, outerwear
  • Bridal wear
  • Accessories
  • casual
  • Costume design for theaters, movies, the advertising industry, and retailers.

7. Market Study

Many fashion design programs include courses in marketing. Some programs/majors highlight marketing more than others, so be sure to do ample research on the coursework involved in the program you choose. If you’ve already undertaken a course but missed the marketing/financial side of things, consider doing short courses in these aspects of the business.

Always keep an eye on what other fashion designers in your area of interest are doing. At a minimum, keep up. Better still, surpass them while still meeting your customers’ needs. Trade fairs are an excellent place to develop a deeper understanding of how the fashion industry works and what will work for you in terms of meeting customer needs and staying competitive.

8. Funding and Astute Financier

You may be exceptionally creative but be absolutely certain that if you run your own fashion label, you need to be business savvy. You do need to understand those numbers and the invoices that keep piling up.

If you really hate this stuff, there are good options, such as asking your accountant to take care of all finances. But it still pays to keep on top of the whole thing yourself.

And if you hate this side of it, look for work as a fashion designer with a fashion house instead of running your own label.

How long does it take to become a Fashion Designer?

1. Professional Career versus Self Taught Affiliate

Designers who complete a bachelor’s degree before seeking work in fashion take about four years to start their careers.

While most graduates find work in the said industry or related fields after school, it can take years for you to gain recognition. You may love clothes but clothing is only part of the story when undertaking fashion design.

You’ll also need excellent communication skills, a willingness to work very hard (often 24/7) and a tough hide when criticized. Equally important you must have an ability to cope with stress, openness to having many different clients and/or bosses.

In addition, you’ll have to mind an acceptance that there will be loneliness or isolation on occasion (depending on how you set up your design business or career) and an ability to be a self-disciplined self-starter.

2. Is it yours for real?

Being a fashion designer is probably for you if: You want to devote your life to this career (it’s your “vocation”), you don’t mind uncertainty or insecurity, you are willing to stand up for what you believe in, you have distinct ideas about what is important in fashion, you listen to clients well, you know the fashion industry inside out and you live, eat and breathe fashion.

Being a fashion designer is probably not for you if: You can’t manage stress well, you don’t like uncertainty or instability, you want a career without too many highs or lows, you need other people to praise your efforts, you need a lot of guidance, you hate being financially unstable and you have too many other interests in life.

3. Type of the Business Trader you want to be

There are many possibilities, including sole trader, partnership, incorporated company, etc. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages that you should discuss with your legal and financial advisers before proceeding.

Be sure that you are covered for liability in all circumstances, especially if you’re in a particularly litigious culture. Your design portfolio will be vital when applying to design jobs and internships, as it is your chance to market yourself and your work.

Your portfolio should display your best work, and highlight your skills and creativity. Use a high-quality binder to show that you take yourself seriously as a designer.

Include the following in your portfolio:

  • Hand-drawn sketches or photographs of these sketches
  • Computer-drawn designs
  • Resume
  • Mood or concept pages
  • Color or textile presentation pages
  • Any other pieces that fairly reflect what you’re capable of doing and evolving into.

Leading Cities in the Fashion Design Industry

Living in a city with a thriving fashion industry makes good sense for many designers. According to the Global Language Monitor (GLM), the following cities were the top fashion capitals of the world in 2012, in descending order:

  • London, England
  • New York, US
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Paris, France
  • Mexico City
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Rome, Italy
  • Sao Palo, Brazil
  • Milan, Italy
  • Los Angeles, US
  • Berlin, Germany.
  • Mumbai, India

How much does a Fashion Designer earn?

The median yearly pay of fashion designers in the United States was $62,860 in 2012. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level jobs in fashion design typically pay very little, but high earnings are possible for some very successful designers.

What are the job prospects?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of fashion designers in the United States will decrease by 3 percent between 2012 and 2020.

Because of the declining number of jobs available, competition for positions will be strong. And designers with education, experience, and impressive portfolios will have the best job prospects.

Being a successful fashion designer not only requires talent and creativity, but it also requires a sound knowledge of the business and marketing aspects of the fashion world. Keep yourself updated on the happenings in the fashion industry by regularly reading trade journals like Women’s Wear Daily and Daily News Record

What are the long term career prospects for fashion designers?

Fashion designers who work for design houses or merchandisers can advance into positions with more creative control, such as a lead designer or creative director. Some very successful designers are hired by established high-fashion design houses to set that house’s creative direction.

Some fashion designers are self-employed and advance in the industry by catching the attention of influential voices, like magazine or fashion blog editors. Successful independent designers may open their own stores or have their designs manufactured and sold by merchandisers.

How can you find a Fashion Designer job?

1. Send Proposals and Research for Openings

There are various ways to find work in the fashion industry as a designer and it depends on the type of designing you’re interested in.

In some cases, being versatile will help you a great deal, just so that you get the experience and then jump across to your real passion later. And in most cases, you’ll need to be persistent and apply to many different places to get your foot in the door.

If you are applying for fashion design jobs, you must have an impressive portfolio. Your portfolio shows potential employers what they can expect from you in terms of style, creativity, and talent. 

Become a Fashion Designer Today
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Should You Become a Fashion Designer? Click on the image to learn more!

2. Long-lasting and Favourable Fashion Designer Jobs

If you do not find work as a designer right away, you can start out in related jobs in costume design or merchandising.

You can also produce your designs independently, though it often takes time to become profitable. For starters, some places to apply to include:

  • Existing fashion houses and designers – look for internships, entry-level paid positions, assistants to designers, etc.
  • Costume positions with movie studios, theaters, costume stores, etc.
  • Online advertisements through various online job agencies
  • Word of mouth––use your college or fashion industry contacts to get you through the door. In an industry that values what people who already are well positioned have to say, this is a good way to get started.

Learn more about being a Fashion Designer

In conclusion, reading more about the careers of your favorite fashion designers can help you. Especially if you want to learn more about what it takes to become successful in the fashion design industry.

Resources like ELLE magazine’s Designer Files can be a good place to start this research. You can also learn more about the industry and current trends by following blogs and magazines. Like Women’s Wear Daily and The Business of Fashion. 

Resourceful References;

You can also submit your queries and questions to the jmexclusives fashion and design team for further support. In addition, use the following links to find more related and useful topics.

  1. The jmexclusives Content: Design and Development Guides
  2. Creative Tim Blog: Flutter Mobile App Development Tool
  3. Group On: Style Design College
  4. The Balance Careers: Should you become a Fashionista?

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