What you need to know
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.
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
- 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.
The average pay for fashion designers in the United States ranges from $33,910 to $135,490.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of fashion designers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations.
Those with formal education in fashion design, excellent portfolios, and industry experience will have the best job prospects. However, strong competition for jobs is expected because of a large number of people who seek employment as fashion designers and the relatively few positions available.
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.