Do you ever watch the TV show Project Runway and wish you could show the world your original fashion designs? As a fashion designer, you can use your sense of style to create fabulous clothing and accessories.
What They Do
Fashion designers may work for a large company, designing clothing for sale through large retailers or boutiques, or a small, exclusive company, or even for themselves.
You may choose to focus on one type of clothing — for example, children’s wear, women’s sportswear, or men’s formalwear, or accessories like purses or shoes. You can also specialize in only one of the steps in fashion design, such as patternmaking, sewing samples, or “trend-spotting.” As a fashion designer, you might spend your day:
- Browsing fashion magazines and websites for inspiration
- Shopping for new fabrics and accessories
- Meeting with clients to measure and discuss one-off projects
- Sketching ideas in a journal
- Creating patterns for various sizes by hand or with computer-aided design (CAD)
- Creating samples of your designs by sewing or having them assembled
- Meeting with sales or production people to discuss your product
- Making theme or presentation boards to show off new ideas
- Attending and/or participating in fashion shows
- Promoting yourself and your designs to potential clients
Fashion designers will work flexible, but often long hours, in a creative and dynamic industry. They may find motivation in striving towards being the next fashion star, or simply working at something they love.
Who is Likely to Succeed
Successful designers need to be able to tap into what people want, and understand how human beings see themselves, to create designs that make people feel a certain way. Sketching or some artistic ability will help you communicate your ideas, and independent designers can translate entrepreneurial and sales skills into running their own business.
Trendsetters, who like to stand out in a crowd, make great fashion designers. You should love fashion and be familiar with the latest trends in fashion design. And if you’re one who loves shopping for new clothes, or remaking old clothes into something new and exciting, fashion design is definitely for you.
How to Learn It
There are many schools for fashion design out there, although many top designers (such as Tommy Hilfiger) are self-taught. To become a fashion designer, you just need to start doing it. Say you have an old outfit that needs freshening up with a new hemline or a different collar. The moment you’ve created those new details, you’re on your way.
You should study the way clothing is made — take apart old clothing by ripping out the seams, then make notes about the different parts. Collect patterns and assemble them. Make modifications as you go, experimenting with materials and colors.
Draw constantly, using a sketchbook to keep your drawings in one place. Experiment with color and texture, and collect samples of fabrics you like. Translate those sketches into real outfits by draping fabrics on yourself or a friend until you’ve got the shape. Cut and stitch the outfit together, or hire someone to make a sample for you.
Read all the fashion magazines you can, and follow the industry. You could also volunteer to help dress and accessorize models at local fashion shows to build a network and learn the ropes. Also, the FabJob Guide to Become a Fashion Designer is a thorough guidebook to help you learn all you need to know to break into this industry.