How To Become A Fashion Designer
Fashion designers can be involved in virtually every step in the creation of clothing and accessories, from designing individual items to entire ranges. Some designers specialise, focusing on a particular market. Others create ‘off the peg’ clothes for the high street or work in haute couture, producing stunning collections that will be worn by top models at fashion shows around the world.
All fashion designers need to be creative, have a keen eye for colour and shape as well as the ability to spot the next trend. It helps to have good drawing skills, technical skills such as sewing and pattern cutting, and an understanding of fabrics.
As a fashion designer, you could find yourself creating preliminary visuals and designs, developing ranges, working with buyers and forecasters or adapting catwalk designs for the high street. You might also be responsible for selecting and buying fabrics, fastening and trims or overseeing the production of a new range.
No formal qualifications are required to enter the profession as a trainee, although it will help to have GCSEs in English and maths at grade C or above (Level 2).
There is no single route into a career as a fashion designer, though you will benefit from a higher education qualification, such as an HND or degree (Level 5/6), which will give you the practical skills you need as well as an understanding of the history and culture of fashion. Alternatively you could study for a broader degree, such as fine art or graphic design, and then specialise at postgraduate level, developing your skills before your enter the job market. Apprenticeships are another good option. It certainly worked for the English designer Alistair McQueen, who began as a Savile Row apprentice before being snapped up by Central St Martins in London and fast-tracked onto an MA course.
Whatever option you choose, you will need to be a self-starter, creating a portfolio of your designs, studying the market and learning as much as you can about the industry. Fashion design is one of those careers that attracts huge numbers of wannabe designers - if you want to succeed then you’ll need to work at it to stand out from the crowd.
Average Working Hours Per Week = Varies
Common Working Pattern
Time Taken To Qualify
What Next/Career Development
With the right training and experience you career could develop in any number of exciting directions. You could become a senior designer in a large fashion house, for instance, head up a department or become a buyer for a high-street chain. Other options include specialising in a particular area or travelling the world looking for the latest fabrics. Some designers launch their own collections, open shops or move into related areas, such as fashion journalism or the theatre.
Facts And Figures
The UK fashion industry contributes £46bn to the UK economy.*
An estimated 797,000 people work in UK fashion.*
The average UK consumer spends about £700 a year on fashion.**
(Source: *London Fashion Week. **Fashion United.)