Fashion Designer

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Fashion Designer


Every year, when the Academy Awards roll around, the press and the public pay as much attention to the hair, gowns, and jewelry worn by the nominees as they do to the actual awards themselves! The clothing worn by the stars are usually closely examined, and breathlessly described to the television audiences watching at home.

Fashion has played an important part in human cultures for thousands and thousands of years, before the Oscars were ever thought of. Fashion designers have been making clothing out of beads, cotton, leather, fur, feathers, plastics and metals for eons. They are talented, trained, and skilled artisans who create wearable, functional art.

Fashion designers can work on their own, creating imaginative, exclusive pieces to sell in boutiques, at fairs and through clothing stores, or they work with a manufacturing company, creating designs for mass production and sale. Those who work independently have greater freedom, in that they can create work on commission for individual clients, according to the clients' tastes, personalities, and wallets, as well as create work to sell according to their own tastes and preferences. They can sell their work through catalogs, online, and in their own boutiques. They may even host their own fashion shows. The drawback is the freedom goes along with job uncertainty, and there are no fringes like benefits and paid vacation days.

Designers who join teams at major labels and fashion houses have more job benefits, but are less able to create and produce fashion according to their own ideas. They follow the lead of the company's traditions, senior designers, and executives. They may also study designs created by the top designers and modify them for the manufacturing company they work for. They modify designs taken from the world of haute couture, where only one or two of each design is ever created. Haute couture designers set the design standards of the day. Haute couture designers even branch off into designing things like towels, sheets, furniture, jewelry, perfume, and even wallpaper and paint.

However they choose to work, a fashion designer must start each project according to a plan. They make sketches and design choices according to the specifications of their client, the senior artists, or their own ideas and dreams. This can involve a lot of discussion, especially if the piece is to be a one-of-a-kind creation. After making scale drawings, they make a pattern, and then oversee the creation of a prototype, or sample garment. They then oversee the garment's mass production, or they sell the design to a fashion house.

Fashion designers pride themselves on unique and innovative creations. Often they work within traditions taken from their own cultures and backgrounds, while still remaining up to date and trendy. Chances are that their designs will never make it to the Oscars, but if they are doing what they love, learning new techniques, and pushing the boundaries in this world of "wearable art", fashion designers should be happy with their chosen career.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a fashion designer? Fashion designers must be creative, and driven to create art. They need good manual dexterity, steady hands, and they should be patient, careful, and enjoy taking risks. Fashion designers need a good sense of color, and they must be detail oriented. They tend to have a strong personal style, and they are have a strong interest in the changing trends in the world of clothing and accessories. They also need good time management skills, as well as good communication skills. Fashion desgners need confidence in their abilities ,talents and strengths and they must be able to handle criticism. It is also helpful for designers to have some business sense, especially if they want to make this their career.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with supervisor, head designer or client about piece
  • Research current trends, historical, and cultural traditions
  • Research fabric types
  • Sketch ideas and plans for each creation
  • Make a pattern out of paper
  • Create a prototype of clothing item
  • Oversee manufacture or item
  • Host fashion shows to promote designs
  • Manage a shop or online business
  • Sell design to other manufacturers to develop under their name
  • Meet regularly with the press, models and journalists to discuss work
  • They typical day for a fashion designer involves meeting with clients, creating sketches and drawing up plans for the item. When fashion designers begin working on a series of designs, the hours can be long, and quick, accurate work is crucial. Fashion designers may travel around the world to exhibitions, festivals, and schools to sell their work, conduct seminars, and for research, to learn about new trends, different cultures and ancient fashion traditions.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Fashion designers work alone, in home studios, or they work for large fashion design houses, manufacturing companies, and clothing lines, designing in a team environment in studios and design offices belonging to their employer. When working for themselves, fashion designers can set their own hours, and may find themselves hard at work in the evenings, on weekends, or in the middle of the night when they are trying to establish themselves, complete a piece before a deadline, or to accommodate clients.
  • However, all designers, even the most established ones, will put in long, tiresome hours during the days leading up to a fashion show or a production deadline. The work environment can be tense, stressful, and also exhilarating.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Fashion designers can hopefully gain enough success to enable them to work full-time as designers, with their own shop or boutique. They can study fashions from around the world, cultural influences, and historical trends, and apply this knowledge to their own work. They can also branch out into other crafts, like shoe design, costume design, and jewelry design. They can write books and articles on fashion design and their experiences in the world of fashion. They can become instructors, hosting workshops or running courses on fashion design and creation.

  Educational Paths  
Fashion designers can take a number of paths in their training and education. Some choose to attend fine arts programs at universities, and focus on textiles, design or costuming. Others opt for a two- to three-year degree program at a college, while others take courses with private design colleges. Some fashion design programs offer internships or co-ops with design houses--this may be useful to you. Make sure it is a well respected school--ask established designers where they look for new assistants.

Aspiring fashion designers may also consider taking some courses in merchandising, business administration, and marketing, especially if they plan on going into business on their own.

Consider taking a few sewing classes, and tour around textile factories, art galleries, museums, and attend fashion shows. It is a good idea to be exposed to as much art and style as possible, from eras past as well as present day.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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