The greatest thrill of being a fashion designer, many of them say, has nothing to do with dressing supermodels for glamorous events and seeing them walk the runways in clothes you designed, although that is a bonus and a sign of success. What makes the job really exciting, several designers say, is seeing an ordinary person smile when they put on an outfit that you created makes them feel confident.
“As far as the most rewarding thing, it’s hearing and seeing people’s reactions to clothes and hearing them say, ‘I feel comfortable,'” says Franne Golde, fashion brand founder, music and award-winning songwriter who created a product slimmer for women called “magic pants” and now sells multiple versions of that product in addition to women’s basics and loungewear.
“You can see when someone tries something on and feels good, it’s almost like they’re empowered,” she says. “You know, they look in the mirror and they love what they see.”
Fashion designers make all kinds of outfits, from casual to formal, and are sometimes involved in creating wearable devices like smart watches or accessories like hats, bags, and shoes. They also sometimes produce costumes and costumes for plays and movies, and can help create patterns for high-tech uniforms, such as those worn by firefighters and astronauts.
How to know if a job as a fashion designer is a good option
To excel as a fashion designer, a person must have a clear artistic vision and the ability to differentiate objective criticism from subjective opinion, fashion industry experts say.
“You’re the right person for this if you trust your gut,” says Ashley Clark, founder of Soigné Luxury Accessories. “Fashion has a lot to do with your instinct… You have to be a really strong, self-aware, creative individual.”
Veteran fashion designer Bern Conrad, who has produced a significant amount of silk, sportswear and knitwear throughout his career and plans to launch a modern casual fashion line under his own name this fall, notes that a Unique perspective and a distinctive identity are essential to a career as a designer.
“Design is about knowing who you are, because you have to express who you are, and you have to be able to convey that to your end consumer,” says Conrad, an alumnus of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, a prestigious school that has educated world famous fashion designers like Calvin Klein.
Fashion experts emphasize that an appreciation for beauty and a strong capacity for visual observation are essential for future fashion designers, but point out that having a good eye is not enough, since what counts most is the ability to conceptualize and fabricate. garments that are somehow better. than what already exists.
One clue that you belong in the fashion industry, experts say, is if you like to sew your own clothes or have created costumes for school plays. Some fashion designers explain that they discovered their calling because they realized how much they enjoyed showing off their personality through the way they dressed.
“I have always been intrigued by the transformative power of fashion and the idea of self-expression through clothing,” Nicole Ghosn, senior designer at Marc Jacobs, wrote in an email.
“As a quiet, introverted teenager, I found it easier to express myself through what I wore. I spent countless hours watching the shows and obsessing over the looks I’d like to create for myself and others,” recalls Ghosn, a former student. from Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City, another top fashion design school and the alma mater of industry titans like Isaac Mizrahi.
Fashion designers warn that preparing for and starting a career in fashion is difficult as it is a highly competitive industry, so anyone intending to enter this field must be hard-working and persistent. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be 4% fewer fashion design jobs in 2029 than there were in 2019. The median salary among US fashion designers. It is important to consider field work when Evaluate that number.
Fashion design experts caution that it is a technical field that requires precision, so a prospective fashion designer should consider whether they would enjoy the mechanics of creating clothing or other fashion products.
“Your tailoring and construction skills and knowledge give you an advantage when designing and envisioning fabric properties, silhouette, draping, and unusual construction methods in clothing,” wrote Jennifer McGrew, a fashion and costume designer based at in Utah, in an Email. “People who are primarily interested in pop culture’s ‘glamorous’ portrayals of work in the fashion industry are kidding themselves.”
Steps to become a fashion designer
Consider attending a reputable fashion design school. Put together an impressive and unique portfolio. Make friends with your peers and look for more experienced mentors. Find a variety of challenging jobs. Save money and spend wisely if you intend to start a brand.
Consider attending a reputable fashion design school
It is possible to become a fashion designer without formal education in the field, but some experts suggest that without attending a formal fashion design program affiliated with a well-known school, it is more difficult to enter the fashion industry.
“I’m the first to admit that the road I traveled to get where I am was not painted gold,” says Clark, a former NFL cheerleader, pageant queen and model who taught herself the basics of fashion design. “Going to fashion school would have eased a lot of mishaps along the way, even in the smallest things. I mean, I had to learn how to sew. I had to learn how to dye fabric.”
To gain the knowledge she needed for her dream career as a fashion designer, Clark read extensively about fashion, watched YouTube videos, and attended master class courses taught by renowned designers.
Lucy Dunne, a professor and director of the apparel design program at the University of Minnesota College of Design, says fashion design programs typically teach students how to brainstorm, explain, and sell their ideas through sketches. or three-dimensional models, and how they execute their vision through two-dimensional patterns and three-dimensional garments.
While a fashion design degree can be extremely beneficial professionally, the lack of one doesn’t make it impossible to enter the industry, experts say. Some of the most famous fashion designers, including Coco Chanel and Michael Kors, never finished or attended college or design school.
“The fashion industry does not require certification or licensing for the designer role,” Abby Lillethun, chair of the department of art and design at Montclair State University in New Jersey, said in an email. “The skills and knowledge base can be acquired through a combination of academic work and skill development by working in studios and on project teams in industry. Also, sometimes an entrepreneur finds success without formal training.”
Build an impressive and unique portfolio
To become competitive in fashion design schools or internships, aspiring designers need to put together an intriguing collection of their designs, experts say.
Conrad cautions against submitting a portfolio that is not true to your identity and is based on what you think others want to see. “Just do what you are: what you want to be, what you want to be or are being,” he says.
Befriend your peers and find more experienced mentors
Fashion experts point out that fashion is an industry where personal connections matter.
Dunne urges fashion design students to get to know their professors and classmates. She points out that fashion schools can offer great suggestions on where to find work, and suggests relying on fashion school alumni networks for job opportunities after graduation.
According to Conrad, most fashion designers starting out in their careers could use some guidance. He says he was regularly offered helpful advice by a generous and experienced designer when he was just starting out and urges anyone interested in fashion design to seek out a knowledgeable person in the industry “who is open to sharing their experience and knowledge.”
Find a variety of challenging jobs
Rowell Concepcion, owner of Binata Millinery in New York, urges budding fashion designers who want to eventually start their own label to combine experience at a long-established, well-known brand with some time at an emerging brand.
Concepción notes that a job at a high-end fashion company adds credibility to a designer’s resume, but says the struggle to start a new brand is so intense that it forces people to develop courage.
If possible, says Concepción, it is optimal for designers to gain experience in the public relations or sales area of a fashion company so that they can understand the business side of fashion.
Dunne emphasizes that taking a job at a new fashion company is a good way for would-be fashion entrepreneurs to assess whether they really want to start their own company. “You can’t really see what it’s like until you’re immersed in it,” she says. “It’s easier to be immersed in someone else’s risk than your own.”
Save money and spend wisely if you intend to start a brand
Concepción recommends that designers who want to start their own brand save 20% to 30% of their earnings so that they can eventually invest that money in a company. It’s a significant sacrifice, he acknowledges, but notes that starting a fashion brand requires “a lot of capital.”
It’s best to direct most of your brand’s seed capital into product development and testing, says Concepción, noting that fashion shows are less critical to launching a fashion company than they used to be.
“You can get traction just on social media and build your own personal brand,” he says, noting that finance companies like Hilldun Corporation provide support for fashion designers and brands.