Fashion Designer

Fashion Designer Career Overview

What you need to know

What is a fashion designer?

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.

There are different types of fashion designers including, accessory designers, costume and clothing designers, and footwear designers. They can work for large brands and fashion houses or in the film and television industry.

What do fashion designers do?

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

Watch this video to learn more from our fashion designer role models:

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.

Watch this video to learn more from our fashion designer role models:

How much do fashion designers make?

The average pay for fashion designers in the United States was $79,290 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A fashion designer’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

There is a large range of pay for fashion designers. Motion picture and video industries pay the highest with a median pay of $98,740, while apparel manufacturing has a median pay of $75,460.

What is the career outlook?

About 2,300 new job openings for fashion designers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of fashion designers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slower than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Social media influencers have created a new demand for constant fashion updates and this has helped grow this career’s prospects. Large-scale clothing production is becoming more important to keep up with these demands so working in larger companies will provide more prospects for fashion designers.

The increased demand for sustainable fashion has also impacted this career. Specializing in eco-friendly fashion and vegan options will provide more career opportunities for a fashion designer.

How to become a fashion designer

The first step for many fashion designers is obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree. There a few options for those who wish to pursue a career in fashion.

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. Developing a portfolio is essential to becoming a fashion designer because employers want to see examples of their creativity and talent when deciding whether to hire an individual.

Aspiring fashion designers should consider taking internships or working as an assistant so they can be introduced to the industry’s process. These entry-level jobs also provide opportunities to develop your portfolio.

Watch this video to learn more from our fashion designer role models: