Do you notice what everyone is wearing? Do you stay on top of the latest trends in clothing and accessories? Do you have a passion for fashion?
If so, then you should consider a career in fashion design. From the design table to the showroom floor, there are many steps involved in bringing fashionable clothing to the marketplace. Many highly skilled people are involved-designers, pattern makers, cutters, stitchers, photographers, fabric experts, wholesalers, and fashion models. With the right training, you could be one of them.
Fashion designers often work for big companies, helping to make both haute couture (high-priced custom-made clothing) and the off-the-rack clothing that is sold in department stores and boutiques. Fashion designers can also work for themselves, and many own their own independent fashion companies. Specialized designers create footwear and accessories such as purses and hats. From the neighborhood tailor to the international artist who designs “red carpet” dresses for movie stars, the world of fashion is diverse and multi-faceted.
The fashion industry is becoming increasingly global. A ready-to-wear apparel company may have designers in one country, the manufacturing facility in another, and retail outlets all over the world. Successful fashion designers enjoy travel, are interested in all aspects of creating clothing, work well with a variety of people, have a keen eye for trends, and know how to design clothing that people want to buy. Pricing is important, too, because mass market designers need to create clothing that can be manufactured and sold at the lowest possible cost.
Computer skills are increasingly important. Many designers sketch initial ideas with paper and pencil, and then translate these hand sketches to the computer. Computer-aided design (CAD) is increasingly being used in the fashion design industry. CAD allows designers to create clothing designs on virtual models and in a variety of colors and shapes. These CAD templates can then be used to direct the manufacturing process, which is often located thousands of miles away.
What’s the job outlook? Opportunities are out there if you have the right training! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the current decade from 2008 to 2018 “the best job opportunities will be in design firms that design mass market clothing sold in department stores and retail chain stores, such as apparel wholesale firms.” But having the right training is key! Most fashion designers have an associate (two-year) or bachelor’s (four-year) degree in fashion design. Program areas may include design, business, marketing, merchandising, and even human anatomy and computers.
Is the fashion industry competitive? Yes, it is! Many people are lured by the promise of a glamorous lifestyle, but a career in fashion design means plenty of hard work and long hours. This is why quality career education can make a big difference to a person’s success in the competitive fashion marketplace.
How can you get started? Find an accredited school or degree program. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits nearly 300 postsecondary institutions with degree programs in fashion design. The best way to start is to log onto a reputable college directory website. You can enter the search terms that are appropriate for you, such as “fashion design college in New York” or “online fashion degrees.” You’ll be presented with the colleges that meet your criteria. Compare programs and financial aid and career services. You can request free information from the schools that interest you. It’s that easy! Then you can narrow down your choices and make your applications…and in less time than you think you could be training for a rewarding career in fashion design.