What is a Fashion Designer?
As a fashion designer, you are responsible for using your creative skills and technical abilities to create new and unique clothing designs. You will need to keep up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and be able to predict the up-and-coming trends that will be popular with consumers. You will also need to be clued up on the various fashion trends worldwide – this will inspire your work.
You will be responsible for choosing your own fabrics, colours and patterns to produce sample products and keep amending these until you are satisfied with the design. You can either be following your own brief or you may be given a brief by an organisation. If you are working for a larger organisation, you will likely be working as part of a team of designers where the creative director will provide the brief. However, if working for a smaller company you may be their only designer and will have ownership over the design brief and process.
The main areas of fashion design work are:
For this role, you will most likely work as part of a team and your garments will be mass manufactured, often from abroad. These designs will be heavily influenced by the media and celebrity fashion – this is a highly commercial role.
These pieces will be unique and often sold in small quantities – these designers are usually well established in the fashion industry.
These will be one-off exclusive garments usually curated for the catwalk. Designs usually endorse the brands and create a ‘look’ with a personal or bigger message.
- Create or visualise 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.
Your salary will depend on your experience, location and size of the company. According to Glassdoor the national average salary for a fashion designer is £28,597.
- As a design assistant salaries are often low ranging between £16,000 to £18,000.
- Once you move into a junior designer position, you can earn approximately £25,000.
- Senior designers and creative directors will earn considerably more, but this will vary. Salary is usually between £42,000 to £85,000
This will very much depend on the project you are working on, but you may be expected to work additional hours to meet deadlines.
What to expect
- The working environment varies between companies, from modern, purpose-built offices or a small design studio. Freelance designers may work from home or in a rented studio.
- With the increase in online retailing, setting up in business or being self-employed is becoming more common, even straight after graduation. Extensive market research and business acumen are critical for any fashion business to succeed.
- The majority of opportunities are available in London and the South East and some large towns and cities in the North West and Scotland, with pockets of industry in the Midlands.
- Career success relies on a combination of creativity, perseverance, resilience and good communication and networking skills.
- There are opportunities to travel to meet suppliers, research new trends and to attend trade and fashion shows, either in the UK or abroad.
The fashion industry is very competitive and qualifications will be needed to break through. You will typically need a degree or of the like, in a subject that blends both technical and design skills such as:
- Art and design
- Fashion and fashion design
- Fashion business
- Fashion buying, marketing and communication
- Garment technology
- Graphic design
- Textiles and textile design
If you have studied for a degree that is unrelated, it is important you gain some industry experience before you apply to a design role, such as fashion retail.
must have skills:
- Creativity, innovation and flair
- An eye for colour and a feel for fabrics and materials
- The ability to generate ideas and concepts, use your initiative and think outside the box
- Design and visualisation skills, either by hand or through computer-aided design (CAD)
- Technical skills, including pattern cutting and sewing
- Garment technology skills and knowledge
- A proactive approach
- Commercial awareness and business orientation
- Self-promotion and confidence
- Interpersonal, communication and networking skills
- The ability to negotiate and to influence others
- Team working skills
- Good organisation and time management.
Work experience is crucial to getting your foot in the door to the fashion industry and will help you develop a network of contacts in the industry.
There might be opportunities to gain work experience during your studies, such as through placements and internships or through your student union. You may also want to consider volunteering at fashion events and attending fashion and trade shows to showcase your work and meet potential employers and future colleagues.
Most fashion designers will work for high street clothing stores and independent labels. Others will work for specialist design studios, making garments for the couture and ready-to-wear markets. To make it into a top design house you will need to have extensive experience compares to the high street fashion sector.
You will learn most of your skills on the job although it’s important that you look to further your own career and skill-set to put yourself ahead of the competition. Your employers will provide training, this will initially be related to practical processes and technological developments. The key is to always make sure you are in touch with the latest trends and fashions. You can do this by reading the trade press and fashion blogs, attending trade and fashion shows, and visiting suppliers.
Career development will depend on your specialisation, work experience and reputation. The opportunities provided by your employers will also be a key factor. Initially, your career progression may start slow but you can be proactive by making contacts and seeking additional opportunities, this will help bolster your skills. It’s incredibly important to build a portfolio of your work throughout your career. Once you’ve gained several years of experience, it’s possible to progress to head designer or creative director. Once you reach this level you will have a lot of responsibility where you will have control over the design decisions while others will do the design work.
The MBA component of the course takes a broad look at business practice and functions such as accounts, finance, and HR – and how they are all interlinked. This allows students to grasp the importance of strategy and communication within a managerial role.
Alongside a broad business view, this course allows students to specialise in digital marketing in a more focused way. The marketing aspect of the programme is intended to allow professionals with substantial digital marketing experience to hone their skills to enhance their career prospects. Areas of study include digital marketing strategy, management, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, pay-per-click, email and influencer marketing.
Other related courses include:
- MSc Marketing and Leadership
- MSc Strategic Marketing
- MSc Global Digital Marketing