Fashion Designer

Fashion Designer Career - woman with tape measure working with a dress on a mannequin

What you need to know

Overview

Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics, and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they design.

What is this career like?

Fashion designers work in wholesale or manufacturing establishments, apparel companies, retailers, theater or dance companies, and design firms. Most fashion designers work in New York and California.

Some of the things a fashion designer might do:

  • Study fashion trends and anticipate designs that will appeal to consumers
  • Decide on a theme for a collection
  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) programs to create designs
  • Visit manufacturers or trade shows to get samples of fabric
  • Select fabrics, embellishments, colors, or a style for each garment or accessory
  • Work with other designers or team members to create prototype designs
  • Present design ideas to the creative director or showcase them in fashion or trade shows
  • Market designs to clothing retailers or directly to consumers
  • Oversee the final production of their designs
What skills are needed?
  • Artistic ability: Fashion designers sketch their initial design ideas, which are used later to create prototypes. Designers must be able to express their vision for the design through illustration.
  • Communication skills: Fashion designers often work in teams throughout the design process and therefore must be effective in communicating with their team members. For example, they may need to give instructions to sewers regarding how a garment should be constructed.
  • Computer skills: Fashion designers must be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) programs and be familiar with graphics editing software.
  • Creativity: Fashion designers work with a variety of fabrics, shapes, and colors. Their ideas must be unique, functional, and stylish.
  • Decision-Making skills: Because they often work in teams, fashion designers are exposed to many ideas. They must be able to decide which ideas to incorporate into their designs.
  • Detail oriented: Fashion designers must have a good eye for small differences in color and other details that can make a design successful.
What is the pay?

The average pay for fashion designers in the United States ranges from $38,570 to $146,300 as of May 2020.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Employment of fashion designers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Most apparel continues to be produced internationally. As a result, employment of fashion designers in the apparel manufacturing industry is expected to decline over the projections decade.

Applicants who have formal education in fashion design; are proficient in technologies such as CAD; have excellent portfolios; and have industry experience will have the best job prospects.

 

What education is required?

Many fashion designers have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising. In these programs, students learn about textiles and fabrics and how to use computer-aided design (CAD) technology. They also work on projects they can add to their portfolio, which showcases their designs.

For many artists, including fashion designers, developing a portfolio is essential because employers rely heavily on a designer’s portfolio in deciding whether to hire the individual. For employers, it is an opportunity to gauge talent and creativity.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Fashion Design.