What Does A Fashion Designer Do?


Fashion designers study trends and sketch the initial clothing or accessory design. They attend trade shows or visit manufacturers to select fabrics and trims.

Designers conduct fittings and adjustments on prototypes of their designs, and the end product is then marketed to clothing retailers. They oversee the entire garment production from their initial sketch to final manufacturing.

The nature of the job varies among the different types of fashion designers; most designers are employed by design and manufacturing firms and work regular hours, while some designers are freelance and work longer hours under more stressful conditions.

Working at a smaller firm often means designers are responsible for greater duties such as patternmaking and sewing, while larger houses employ a separate team for these tasks.

The design and production process can differ between mass market and high fashion. Some designers specialize in one category of apparel, while others design across a range of clothing and accessories.

Designers communicate with clients worldwide, and therefore their work involves extensive travel.

Aspiring fashion designers should earn an associates or bachelors degree in fashion design. A joint degree in business, marketing, or merchandising can also be helpful for starting your own business.

A degree can equip you with sewing and patternmaking skills, a working knowledge of color, textiles, and the history of fashion design, and an awareness of current and upcoming trends. With an academic background in fashion design, students can better understand the garment production process, improve functionality, fit and aesthetics in their designs for specific clients, and meet and anticipate consumer demands.

It is also important to gain real world experience. While applying for internships in fashion design or manufacturing can provide firsthand experience, other kinds of internships and jobs in the fashion and retail industry can be relevant, too.

By working directly with clients, whether that is through personal styling or sales, you can learn how to address client needs and improve your sales skills.

In addition, it is important to be computer literate because more design work is being done with computer software.

Competition for jobs in fashion design is strong, and growth of employment opportunities is relatively slow. Jobs in cut and sew manufacturing continue to decline as this area is outsourced, but design work remains in-house and enjoys relative job stability.

As of May 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that salaried fashion designers earn median annual wages of $61,160 and the middle 50% earns between $42,150 and $87,120.

Photo: WWD