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Career as a fashion designer


Who is a fashion designer

Fashion designers hold a special place in our world. Their talent and vision play a big role in how people look, and also contribute to the cultural and social environment. They love to study fashion trends, sketch designs, select materials, and have a part in all the production aspects of their designs. They contribute to the creation of millions, if not billions of pieces of clothing and accessories purchased by consumers on a yearly basis.


Fashion designers create women's, men's and children's apparel. This might include sportswear, maternity wear, outerwear, underwear, formalwear, eyewear and footwear. There are also accessory designers who design belts, scarves, hats, handbags and hosiery. There are fashion designers at different levels of the fashion industry, from well-known couturiers, to unknown fashion designers working for ready-to-wear houses, to fashion stylists who might make only small changes in existing designs.


Fashion designers promote themselves with the help of marketing and advertising. Some designers market their fashions through runway shows, as well as through their own retail stores. Some also lend their name to other licensed products in order to expand their brand identity. In fact, many celebrity fashion designers actually do very little designing of the collections that bear their name.


Fashion designers are now beginning to use new technologies such as body-scanning for a better custom fit, or seamless knitting technologies that can produce clothing with just a simple push of a button. Similar to how the sewing machine changed the face of fashion in the past, the future will change due to new technologies, resources, and tools. High-tech textiles will enable fashion designers to create new product lines including those that incorporate sun protection, and other unique qualities. New consumer demands and preferences may even have more to do with function than with fashion.


What does a fashion designer do?

The design process from design concept to final production takes many months. Researching current fashion trends and making predictions of future trends is the first step in creating the design. Some fashion designers do their own research while others depend on trend reports published by fashion industry trade groups. Trend reports let you know what styles, colours and fabrics will be popular for a certain season in the near future. Textile manufacturers use these trend reports to design fabrics and patterns while fashion designers begin to sketch designs. Designers then visit manufacturers or trade shows to get samples of fabrics and figure out which fabrics to use with which designs.


A fashion designer takes part in just about every aspect of bringing fashion to the public. Creating the basic design can be done in different ways. It can involve storyboards with sketches, to working with a dummy and sewing pieces of material together. This creating phase is when the designer takes his/her vision that's swirling in the mind's eye and puts it into a visual expression. This first draft of the design is then worked on as the designer develops the first basic prototype.

Computer-aided design (CAD) is being used more and more in the fashion design industry. Although most designers initially sketch designs by hand, a growing number take these hand sketches and put them on the computer. CAD allows designers to look at designs of clothing on virtual models, and in many colours and shapes, therefore saving time by needing fewer adjustments later.


The fashion designer's next step is to take the rough sketch or model and develop a more specific working pattern. Usually, the designer will make a rough model of the design by creating a toile. This is made by sewing inexpensive material (like muslin) to make a rough model of the design. When this is placed on a mannequin-like dress stand, the designer can see how the material will drape or hang on a human form.


Large design houses hire their own pattern-makers, tailors, and sewers who create the master patterns and sew the prototypes. Designers working in small design firms, or those new to the business, usually do most of the technical pattern-making and sewing tasks, in addition to designing the clothing. When the garment is complete, the designer will either modify, scrap or approve the design for showing in a collection.


A fashion designer usually has full control of a fashion show, often picking the models, determining the price of each garment, and arranging how the garments will be presented. Most designers have assistants to help with all the many small details, but overall, the designer retains full control.


What is the workplace of a Fashion Designer like?

A fashion designer that works for wholesalers or manufacturers creates designs for the world market. These designs are manufactured in various sizes, colours and materials. A small number of high-fashion (haute couture) designers are self-employed. They create custom designs for individual clients, usually at very high prices. Other high-fashion designers sell their designs in their own stores or cater to specialty stores or high-end fashion department stores. These designers create a mixture of original garments and also established fashion trends. Fashion designers employed by manufacturing establishments, wholesalers, or design firms generally work regular hours in well-lighted and comfortable settings.


Some fashion designers specialize in costume design for the performing arts, movies, and television productions. The work of costume designers is similar to other fashion designers, except they must extensively research the styles worn during the period in which the performance takes place. They may also work with directors to select and create certain attire. Costume fashion designers make sketches of designs, select fabric and other materials, and oversee the production of the costumes. They also must stay within the costume budget.


Designers who freelance usually work on a contractual basis, or by the job. They often have to adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines, meeting with the clients during evenings or weekends. Freelance designers tend to work longer hours and in smaller environments and are under constant pressure to please clients and to find new ones in order to have a steady income. Regardless of their work setting, all fashion designers occasionally work long hours to meet deadlines or get ready for fashion shows.


The nature of the fashion business requires consistent communication with suppliers, manufacturers, and customers all over North America and the world. Many fashion designers travel several times a year to trade and fashion shows to learn about the latest fashion trends. Designers may also travel frequently to meet with fabric and material suppliers and manufacturers.


Types of fashion designers

Apparel Fashion Designers

Apparel designers focus their energy on creating styles for every part of the world’s population – from main street workers to starlets in Hollywood. Costume designers and mass market experts work within the title of “apparel designer”. When it comes to the apparel category, three types of fashion designers exist: Haute couture, prêt-a-porter, and mass market. (Note: There is a fourth type of apparel fashion design – kitsch. Kitsch is out of date fashion worn to ‘make a statement’. However, the market is extremely limited for kitsch designs.)


Haute Couture Fashion Designer

Haute couture designers are those that stick to the old rules of design for wealthy clients. These are fashion designers who specialize in creating custom apparel for an individual customer. One person at a time, haute couture fashion designers make custom garments based on the exact measurements of their client.


Prêt-a-porter Fashion Designer

Prêt-a-porter, or ‘ready-to-wear’, fashion designers focus on apparel for the masses, while reserving some effort to get the perfect cut, material, and presentation for the wearer. These fashion designers aren’t creating designs for millions of people. Rather, prêt-a-porter designs are manufactured in limited numbers.


Mass Market Fashion Designer

Mass market fashion designers are creating new styles for the general population. Their items will be mass-produced and sold on the open market. There are no limited editions or custom fitting involved in producing mass-market apparel. By far, mass market apparel is the most popular option among new designers entering the field of fashion.


Shoe Fashion Designers (Footwear Designers)

Footwear designers are in the market to design shoes and foot wear. Within this category, there are many other types of fashion designers as well. These include athletic footwear and formal footwear, and can be categorized the same way as the types of apparel designers.


Fashion Accessory Designer

Fashion accessory designers focus on designing jewelry and other items that are not necessarily considered ‘apparel’. These types of fashion designers create necklaces, bracelets, hats, scarves, hand bags, and other items we use to accessorize.

Knowledge areas need to be acquired

  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

  • Sales and Marketing - Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

  • Fine Arts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.

  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.


skills

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.

  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

  • Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.

  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.

  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

  • Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.

  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.

  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

  • Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

  • Management of Financial Resources - Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.

  • Management of Material Resources - Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.

  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.


Personality

Work styles

  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.

  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.


Work activities

Responsibilities

  • Tasks depend on the market you're working for, but you'll typically need to:

  • create or visualize an idea and produce a design by hand or using computer-aided design (CAD)

  • create mood boards to show to clients

  • keep up to date with emerging fashion trends as well as general trends relating to fabrics, colours and shapes

  • plan and develop ranges, often based on a theme

  • work with others in the design team, such as buyers and forecasters, to develop products to meet a brief

  • liaise closely with sales, buying and production teams on an ongoing basis to ensure items suit the customer, market and price points

  • understand design from a technical perspective, i.e. producing patterns and technical specifications for designs

  • visit trade shows and manufacturers to source, select and buy fabrics, trims, fastenings and embellishments

  • adapt existing designs for mass production

  • develop a pattern that is cut and sewn into sample garments and supervise the creation of these, including fitting, detailing and adaptations

  • oversee production

  • negotiate with customers and suppliers

  • showcase your designs at fashion and other trade shows

  • work with models to try out your designs and also to wear them on the catwalk at fashion shows

  • manage marketing, finances and other business activities, if working on a self-employed basis.

  • Experienced designers with larger companies may focus more on the design aspect, with pattern cutters and machinists preparing sample garments. In smaller companies these, and other tasks, may be part of the designer's role.


Frequently asked questions

What is the scope for fashion designing in India?

Fashion design is the applied art devoted to the designing of clothing and lifestyle accessories. This art is influenced by cultural and social attitudes and has evolved over time and place. Fashion designing has come a long way from the designer clothes worn by the royalty of the ancient world to the haute couture products of the present.


Fashion designing is one of the most lucrative, appealing, glamorous and exciting career options in today's world. If you have a penchant for creativity, style and originality, a career in fashion designing is the one tailor made for you. On one hand, the fashion industry satisfies both the creative fancies and the materialistic needs of the people. On the other hand, it promises glamour, fame, success and a high pay package to the talented people.


However, it is also a demanding career, as fashion designers need to combine their creativity with managerial skills to sustain in this industry. Thus, if you can create magic with colours, shapes and designs, then just obtain a professional course to begin a successful career in the alluring world of fashion designing.


Step-by-Step

To start a career as a fashion designer, two types of qualifications are required, that is, natural and acquired.


• Natural: this skill set would comprise of a decent aesthetic sense, colour expertise, good taste and sense of trends and fashion. An eye for detail, knowledge of fabrics and so on is a big plus for those serious about a career as a fashion designer.


• Acquired skills would be a qualification from a decent, recognized fashion Institute. You can enroll for either a full-time course or a part time certificate course. Students usually take these up after their 10+2 level. Not that the courses are not available for graduates or people with higher qualification. There are several short-term certificate courses that are offered by the same fashion institutes for super specialization, on part-time basis. These courses equip you with technical and creative thinking skills.


Start Early

The word ‘fashion’ immediately conjures up images of glitz and glamour. The onset of the International fashion market in India has given an impetus to the fashion industry which has emerged as the booming industry and a career as a fashion designer is like a pot of gold. So, many young people who are attracted by these attributes decide to foray into the fashion industry.


While the academic requirements are not very high, you need considerable aptitude and talent to be labelled “designer” material. You must be highly creative to combine colours, shades and textures and express your ideas through sketches.

Your race for admission into a reputed fashion school will begin straight after school. Subjects like drawing, painting, home science and computer graphics will develop your creativity.


By the time you finish the course you will have mastered the step-by-step making of a garment: from designing to pattern making, production and even marketing.


Is it the right career for me?

A career in fashion designing is right for you if you are talented and exude style in everything you do. You must also possess the ability be original and creative and love to make people look good.


Further, you must be creative enough to combine colours, shades and textures and express your ideas through sketches. You must also visualize new design, patters, garments and accessories and enjoy working with fabrics and accessories.

If you have all this and more in you then you are all, set to step into the arena of fashion designing.


What would it Cost Me?

The fee structure varies from institution to institution. However, on an average you will have to dish out more than Rs. 45,000 per annum to complete a course in Fashion Designing from a reputed institution.


Funding/Scholarship

Some fashion academies extend merit-based scholarships. These scholarships usually waive off payment of tuition fee only. These waivers continue in the subsequent year(s) on the condition that the awardees academic performance meets the prescribed standards of achievement.


The criterion of these scholarship programmes is based on the annual income of the eligible student’s parental annual income. There are a few scholarships sponsored by reputed companies for meritorious and financially deserving students. Scholarship awardees also get educational loan facility to cover other payable fee and expenses.


Job Prospect

In India, the fashion industry has just begun to come of age, as it is still in its fledgling stage. This industry offers plenty of opportunities for talented hard working and enthusiastic people. Prospects for fashion design graduates are pretty good thanks to the huge and still growing demand for “designer wear” and the equally outsized quantity of exports.


After successful completion of the course, you can remain self-employed. Alternatively, several export houses, garment store chains, textile mills, leather companies, boutiques, fashion show organizers, jewelry houses and media houses recruit professionals interested in a career in fashion designing.


Pay Packet

The Starting monthly package can be around Rs.10, 000 to Rs.15, 000. With experience, you will acquire maturity in designing skills and a few years down the line your salary would be in the range of Rs.30, 000 to Rs.40, 000 per month. Of course, if you become a reputed designer you could demand the world.


Great fashion designers’ salary always shows an upward moving trend. However, hard work and a conscious effort to update the latest trends in the fashion industry are imperative.


Demand and Supply

Economically India is progressing rapidly today with even better future prospects. Therefore, the country is today witnessing rapid growth in many sectors which includes the fashion industry.


Indian fashion is gaining a lot of popularity abroad because of cheap labour and excellent craftsmanship. Many top Indian designers are now catering to this growing international demand for quality fashion products and accessories. In addition, for the demand for Indian garments, designer saris and textiles are also of great demand.


Many individuals choose careers in fashion designing today as there are many areas of work and countless opportunities within this field.


Market Watch

The scope for fashion design jobs in India is immense as Indians have increasingly become more fashion conscious and seek to enhance it in every way. Clothing companies need to hire people in a variety of jobs, ranging from fashion designers, textile designers, models, retailers, buyers and merchandisers, to provide end-to-end solutions to their clients.


According to a recent study, the India’s fashion designing industry aims to grow to Rs.1, 000 crores from the current to Rs.180 crores within the next 5 to 10 years.


International Focus

Better prospectus both in terms of salary and growth of fashion design jobs is enormous and extends beyond India’s markets to international markets too. Indian fashion designers are doing very well in almost all countries and hence the scope has broadened for students of fashion designing.


Fashion designers such as Ritu Beri, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal, Satya Paul and Tarun Tahiliani are known worldwide. Many Institutions provide training to potential fashion designers to expand their talent and become entrepreneurs in the fashion world. The India Fashion Week has become an international fashion event, with buyers from international stores making an appearance to transact business.


With more and more Indians dressing up and focused on looking good, there is an increasing awareness about fashion in India. The Indian fashion industry is booming. The domestic Indian Textile market is worth $25 billion today and growing at an annual rate of 15-20%.


Mega Malls are mushrooming all over. The Retail sector is witnessing a virtual explosion with the Ambanis, Mittals, Birlas and now, the Tatas making a foray in this sector. The fashion market will require thousands of trained professionals in the fields of design, management, communication and technology.


Positives/Negatives

Positives:

  • The scope of fashion design is such that it’s cut out for success.

  • There are some glamorous aspects to this business, you may get to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, but reaching there is absolute hard work.

Negatives:

  • Fashion designers need a lot of experience and hence they have to work as assistant for any reputed fashion design firm in the initial phase.

  • You might want to set up your own studio but you will need a lot of money or have to find investors who are ready to invest in your studio.

  • Unless you have some hands-on experience, it is hard to get investors.

Different roles, different names

As a professional fashion designer, you can work in areas like designer wear production, fashion marketing, planning and concept management. Then there is fashion media, design production management, fashion accessory design, quality control and promotion of brands.


You can also work as a designated costume designer, fashion consultant, personal stylist, technical designer, graphic designer, production pattern maker or a fashion coordinator.


Other roles include: apparel production manager, fabric buyer, fabric quality control manager, show room sales representative, illustrator, cutting assistant and outside sales representative. Those interested in a career in fashion designing can also become entrepreneurs and form their own companies.


Top Companies

1. Fashion houses run by top fashion designers such as: Abu Jani, JJ Valaya, Manish Malhotra, Neeta Lulla, Rina Dhaka, Ritu Beri, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal, Sandeep Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani and so on.

2. Top notch garment and textile export houses

3. Textile and fabric manufacturing units

4. Exclusive and branded fashion showrooms


Tips for getting Hired

1. Make a great portfolio that showcases your creative talents

2. Apprenticeship under a well-known designer is desirable for getting hired in this industry

3. Thoroughly research the market before making a foray into it

4. Do freelancing for fashion houses and boutiques

5. Be creative, exclusive and innovative

6. Don’t be impulsive and impatient

7. Don’t get disheartened by rejections, understand your drawbacks and work on it

8. Start affordable and once you have proved yourself, you can go for the stars


What are the best private colleges in India

Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangalore

Pearl Academy, New Delhi

Pearl Academy, Jaipur

Amity School of Fashion Technology, Noida

Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune

School of Fashion Technology, Pune

International Institute of Fashion Design, Chandigarh

JD Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi

Courses one can pursue

BSc. Fashion Design

B.Des (Leather Design)

MSc. Fashion Design

B. Tech Textile Engineering

B.Des. (Fashion Design)

Bsc. Leather Design

B.Des. Leather Design

B.Des. Accessory Design

Bsc. Accessory Design

B.Des. Textile Design

Bsc. Textile Design

B.Des. Knitwear Design

B.Des. (Fashion Communication)

Bachelor of Fashion Technology (Apparel Production) (B.F Tech.)

M.Des (Master of Design)

M.F.M (Master of Fashion Management)

M.F.Tech. (Master of Fashion Technology)


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