What Does a Fashion Designer Do?
Fashion Designing: *Designs and creates clothing, shoes, accessories, etc
*Study Fashion Trends Research current fashion and make predictions for future trends. Sometimes using trend reports published by fashion industry trade groups. Trend reports indicate what styles, colors, and fabrics will be popular for a particular season in the future. Textile manufacturers use these trend reports to begin designing fabrics and patterns while fashion designers begin to sketch preliminary designs.
*They then visit manufacturers or trade shows to procure samples of fabrics and decide which fabrics to use with which designs.
*Selects colors & fabrics
*Oversee the final production of their designs
From initial concept to the final product takes between 18 and 24 months.
Types of Clothing Designers
Men, women & children:
*Accessory designers help create and produce hand bags, belts, scarves, hosiery, eyewear, hats, etc.
*Footwear designers create shoes and boots. Fashion designers
specialize in all these areas, and some a specific area.
Types of Fashion Designers
Small Designers or new designers, usually perform most of the technical, pattern making, and sewing tasks, in addition to designing the clothing. (The work of pattern makers, hand sewers, and tailors is covered in the statement on textile, apparel, and furnishings occupations elsewhere in the Handbook.)
In large design firms, they are the lead designers who are responsible for creating the designs, choosing the colors and fabrics, and overseeing technical designers who turn the designs into a final product. They are responsible for creating the prototypes and patterns and work with the manufacturers and suppliers during the production stages. Large design houses also employ their own pattern makers, tailors, and sewers who create the master patterns for the design and sew the prototypes and samples.
Fashion designers working for apparel wholesalers or manufacturers create designs for the mass market. These designs are manufactured in various sizes and colors. A small number of high-fashion (haute couture) designers are self-employed and create custom designs for individual clients, usually at very high prices.
Other high-fashion designers sell their designs in their own retail stores or cater to specialty stores or high-fashion department stores. These designers create a mixture of original garments and those that follow established fashion trends.
Some specialize in costume design for performing arts, motion picture, and television productions. The work of costume designers is similar. Costume designers, however, perform extensive research on the styles worn during the period in which the performance takes place, or they work with directors to select and create appropriate attire. They make sketches of designs, select fabric and other materials, and oversee the production of the costumes. They also must stay within the costume budget for the particular production item.
Fashion designers employed by manufacturing establishments, wholesalers, or design firms generally work regular hours in well-lighted and comfortable settings.
Hours Designers who freelance generally work on a contract, or by the job. They frequently adjust their workday to suit their clients' schedules and deadlines, meeting with the clients during evenings or weekends when necessary. Freelance designers tend to work longer hours and in smaller, more congested, environments, and are under pressure to please clients and to find new ones in order to maintain a steady income. Regardless of their work setting, all fashion designers occasionally work long hours to meet production deadlines or prepare for fashion shows.
Communication and Travel
The global nature of the fashion business requires constant communication with suppliers, manufacturers, and customers all over the United States and the world. Most travel several times a year to trade and fashion shows to learn about the latest fashion trends. They may travel frequently to meet with fabric and materials suppliers and with manufacturers who produce the final apparel products.
Education & Training
2-year or 4-year degree. Knowledgeable about textiles, fabrics, ornamentation, and fashion trends.
Education and training They typically need an associate or a bachelor's degree in fashion design. Some also combine a fashion design degree with a business, marketing, or fashion merchandising degree, especially those who want to run their own business or retail store.
Basic coursework includes color, textiles, sewing and tailoring, pattern making, fashion history, computer-aided design (CAD), and design of different types of clothing such as menswear or footwear. Coursework in human anatomy, mathematics, and psychology also is useful.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 post secondary institutions with programs in art and design. Most of these schools award degrees in fashion design. Many schools do not allow formal entry into a program until a student has successfully completed basic art and design courses. Applicants usually have to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.
Aspiring fashion designers can learn these necessary skills through internships with design or manufacturing firms. Some also gain valuable experience working in retail stores, as personal stylists, or as custom tailors. Such experience can help them gain sales and marketing skills while learning what styles and fabrics look good on different people.
Designers also can gain exposure to potential employers by entering their designs in student or amateur contests. Because of the global nature of the fashion industry, experience in one of the international fashion centers, such as Milan or Paris, can be useful.
Other qualifications. Designers must have a strong sense of the esthetic eye for color and detail, a sense of balance and proportion, and an appreciation for beauty. They also need excellent communication and problem-solving skills. Despite the advancement of computer-aided design, sketching ability remains an important advantage. A good portfolio—a collection of a person's best work—often is the deciding factor in getting a job.
In addition to creativity, they also need to have sewing and pattern making skills. Even if they do not perform these tasks themselves, they need to be able to understand these skills so they can give proper instruction on how the garment should be constructed. They also need strong sales and presentation skills to persuade clients to purchase their designs. Good teamwork and communication skills also are necessary because increasingly the business requires constant contact with suppliers, manufacturers, and buyers around the world.
Advancement. Beginners usually start out as pattern makers or sketching assistants for more experienced designers before advancing to higher level positions. Experienced designers may advance to chief designer, design department head, or another supervisory position. Some designers may start their own design company, or sell their designs in their own retail stores. A few of the most successful designers can work for high-fashion design houses that offer personalized design services to wealthy clients.
22,700 jobs in 2008
Appx 31% of designers worked for apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers
13% worked for apparel manufacturers. Many self employed.
In 2008, the highest numbers of fashion designers were employed in New York and California.
Little or no change in employment is projected since oompetition for jobs is expected to be stiff. The creativity and glamor associated with fashion design is a big draw.
Employment is projected to grow by 1% percent between 2008 and 2018. Increasing population demanding more clothing, footwear, and accessories will add to the demand for designers.
Demand is increasing for stylish clothing that is affordable, especially among middle-income consumers which will increase the need for fashion designers among apparel wholesalers. However, job opportunities in cut and sew manufacturing will continue to decline as apparel is increasingly manufactured overseas.
Employment in the industry will not decline as fast as other occupations because firms are more likely to keep design work in house.
Job prospects. Job competition is expected be good because so many applicants are attracted to the creativity and glamor associated with fashion. The best job opportunities will be in design firms that design mass-market clothing sold in department stores and retail chain stores, such as apparel wholesale firms.
Few employment opportunities are expected in design firms that cater to high-end department stores and specialty boutiques as demand for expensive, high-fashion design declines relative to other luxury goods and services.
Wages for salaried fashion designers in May 2008
$61,160 Median annual $42,150 & $87,120 middle 50% $32,150 lowest 10% $124,780 highest 10% Median annual wages of salaried fashion designers in the largest industries that employed them in May 2008 were:
$72,500 Management of companies and enterprises
66,000 Cut and sew apparel manufacturing
61,600 Apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers
59,560 Specialized design services
Earnings can vary widely based on the employer and years of experience. Starting salaries tend to be very low until designers are established in this occupation. Salaried designers usually earn higher and more stable incomes than self-employed or freelance designers. However, a few of the most successful self-employed may earn many times the salary of the highest paid salaried designers. Self-employed must provide their own benefits and retirement.