Fashion Designers are the artists of the apparel industry.
They create ideas for a range of products including coats, suits, dresses,
hats, and underwear. Fashion designers design clothing and
accessories. Some high-fashion designers are self-employed and design
for individual clients. Other high-fashion designers cater to specialty
stores or high-fashion department stores. These designers create original
garments, as well as clothing that follows established fashion trends.
Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, creating
designs of men's, women's, and children's fashions for the mass market.
Fashion designers begin the process by making rough sketches of garments
or accessories, often using computer-assisted design (CAD) software.
This software prints detailed designs from a computer drawing. It can
also store fashion styles and colors that can be accessed and easily
changed. Designers then create the pattern pieces that will be used
to construct the finished garment. They measure and draw pattern pieces
to actual size on paper. Then, they use these pieces to measure and
cut pattern pieces in a sample fabric. Designers
sew the pieces together and fit
them on a model. They examine the sample garment and make changes until
they get the effect they want. Some designers use assistants to cut
and sew pattern pieces to their specifications. Designers
need a good sense of color, texture, and style. In addition, they must
understand the construction and characteristics of specific fabrics,
such as durability and stiffness. Many employers seek designers who
know how to use computer-assisted design. This specialized training
usually is obtained through a university or design school that offers
4-year or 2-year degrees in art, fine art, or fashion design. Many schools
do not allow entry into a bachelor's degree program until a student
has completed a year of basic art and design courses. Applicants may
be required to submit drawings and other examples of their artistic
ability. Formal training is also available in 2- and 3-year fashion
design schools that award certificates or associate degrees.
Graduates of 2-year programs generally qualify as assistants to designers.
Beginning designers usually receive on-the-job training. They normally
need 1 to 3 years of training before they advance to higher level positions,
such as assistant technical designer, pattern designer, or head designer.
Sometimes fashion designers advance by moving to bigger firms. Some
designers choose to move into positions in business or merchandising.
Designers employed by manufacturing establishments, large corporations,
or design firms generally work regular hours in well-lighted and comfortable
settings. Designers in smaller design consulting firms, or those who
freelance, generally work on a contract, or job, basis. They frequently
adjust their workday to suit their clients schedules and deadlines,
meeting with the clients during evening or weekend hours when necessary Consultants
and self-employed designers tend to work longer hours and in smaller,
more congested, environments. Designers may transact business
in their own offices or studios or in clients homes or offices. They
also may travel to other locations, such as showrooms, design centers,
clients exhibit sites, and manufacturing facilities. Designers who are
paid by the assignment are under pressure to please clients and to find
new ones in order to maintain a steady income. All designers sometimes
face frustration when their designs are rejected or when their work
is not as creative as they wish. With the increased speed and sophistication
of computers and advanced communications networks, designers may form
international design teams, serve a geographically more dispersed clientele,
research design alternatives by using information on the Internet, and
purchase supplies electronically, all with the aid of a computer in
their workplace or studio. Fashion designers generally worked
in apparel manufacturing or wholesale distribution of apparel, piece
goods, and notions. A large proportion of designers are
self-employed and do freelance work full time or part time in addition
to holding a salaried job in design or in another occupation.
In fashion design, employers generally seek individuals with a 2- or
4-year degree who are knowledgeable in the areas of textiles, fabrics,
and ornamentation, and about trends in the fashion world.
Formal training for some design
professions also is available in 2- and 3-year professional schools
that award certificates or associate degrees in design. Graduates of
2-year programs normally qualify as assistants to designers, or they
may enter a formal bachelor's degree program. The Bachelor of Fine Arts
degree is granted at 4-year colleges and universities. The curriculum
in these schools includes art and art history, principles of design,
designing and sketching, and specialized studies for each of the individual
design disciplines, such as garment construction, textiles, mechanical
and architectural drawing, computerized design, sculpture, architecture,
and basic engineering. A liberal arts education or a program that includes
training in business or project management, together with courses in
merchandising, marketing, and psychology, along with training in art,
is recommended for designers who want to freelance.
Employers increasingly expect new designers to be familiar with
computer-aided design software as a design tool. Individuals
in the design field must be creative, imaginative, and persistent
and must be able to communicate their ideas in writing, visually,
and verbally. Because tastes in style and fashion can change quickly,
designers need to be well read, open to new ideas and influences,
and quick to react to changing trends. Problem-solving skills and
the ability to work independently and under pressure are important
traits. People in this field need self-discipline to start projects
on their own, to budget their time, and to meet deadlines and production
schedules. Good business sense and sales ability also are important,
especially for those who freelance or run their own business.
Beginning designers usually
receive on-the-job training and normally need 1 to 3 years of training
before they can advance to higher level positions. Experienced designers
in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department
head, or other supervisory positions. Some designers leave the occupation
to become teachers in design schools or in colleges and universities.
Many faculty members continue to consult privately or operate small
design studios to complement their classroom activities. Some experienced
designers open their own firms.
For A Career in Fashion