Becoming a Fashion Designer

It seems like everyone is jumping on the designer bandwagon these days. And why not? The fashion industry is sexy – fashion shows, parties, celebrities, recognition, and even fame go along with a career in fashion.

Now herein lies the question: do you go to design school or go straight to starting a business? Not all fashion designers go the traditional route to design school, instead drawing on an entrepreneurial spirit, some “designers” turn their head for business into a thriving fashion enterprise.

Ralph Lauren is an example of a fashion designer who bypassed the sewing machine and headed straight for the marketplace. Which path you take depends on your personal motivation. If you love sewing and pattern making, the traditional route is going to bring the most satisfaction. If you love the fashion world but don’t have the patience for needle and thread, a career in the fast-paced and exciting fashion biz is still possible … read on.

So you want to go out on your own, what’s first?

You’ve always admired fashion designers and their ability to design trendy, unique and wearable fashions season after season, as if by magic. But it’s not magic; it’s a business. And to succeed in business, nobody is an island (meaning that everyone needs a little help to accomplish his or her dreams). And it’s not all glitz and glamour. Being a fashion designer means you have to actually run a business.

Before you print up those business cards, ask yourself if you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves and tackle the not-so fun aspects of fashion.

At first, running a fashion business could mean fulfilling orders yourself (i.e., packing boxes until the wee hours of the morning), steaming clothes repeatedly during fashion shows, and bookkeeping. You could spend only a small percentage of your time actually designing; instead you’re networking, schmoozing and negotiating with suppliers and vendors.

If you’re planning to take the direct-to-consumer path, you’ll have to create a website and maintain it (and most likely have to pay someone to handle these tasks), get a merchant account to process credit card transactions and manage charge back cycles. If you’re not interested in learning what these things mean, then you may decide to work for a large fashion house to learn the ropes.

But if you have the endurance and enough friends with skills or services you can trade for, you could go out on your own and succeed. Today is the age of entrepreneurship, why shouldn’t you get a piece of the pie?


The fashion biz: a reality check

Exciting industries are rife with competition-some that will fade away and others that will give you a run for your money. You have to compete against the big names out there and trendy emerging designers fresh out of the best design schools or veterans of big fashion houses-not to mention all the celebrities popping up with their own labels.

Running your own fashion biz may require you to reach out to suppliers and potential customers all over the world, which means you better be organized. Are you prepared to coordinate the procurement of raw materials like fabric, trim and hardware, so that your manufacturer gets what they need at the right time to deliver a finished product on deadline?

Think of yourself as a business person first and a fashion designer second. If your fashion business fails, you’re the one that suffers. Always keep the business aspect in the forefront of your mind. Some people find this prospect exhilarating, while others can’t think of anything more horrifying. Still interested in starting your own fashion business?

I’m not a designer, can I still work in the fashion industry?

Yes … and no. If you have the design vision, you can pay people to take your idea and turn it into a tangible pattern or design. This is sort of like what a creative director does. If this fits your situation, then you’d better have the business chops to get your business off the ground and you’d better have a solid Core Value Proposition.

What this means is that you must have a strong business proposal and offer a product that’s valuable and in demand. That doesn’t mean you have to sell high-end couture clothing to rich people. Clothiers H&M and Zara focus on fast ready-to-wear fashion at affordable pricepoints.

There is more than one path to becoming a fashion designer. You can learn to sew and go to design school to learn the ins-and-outs of the business. But not everyone learns to draw patterns and stitch together garments. The keys to succeeding in the fashion business are creativity, a good business sense and determination.

Stay tuned for more advice on becoming a fashion designer.

Pointers on How to Become a Fashion Designer

How to become a fashion designer may seem like a glamorous proposition filled with promises of working in the world of clothing, accessories, runway models and photoshoots. But like all things in life, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Only a handful of fashion designers really end up becoming famous, with their brand names known around the world, like Ralph Lauren or Alexander McQueen. The majority of fashion designers end up working for fashion brands that produce for the mass market, creating basic and ready-to-wear items.

If you really want to enter the fashion industry, here are some initial steps on how to become a fashion designer that will boost your chances of making it in this big, bad fashion world.

Know your abilities.

Do you have the artistic talent, creativity and imagination it takes to become a fashion designer? Have you tried a hand at sketching pieces that are unique and reflect your own style and personality? If all you can draw are stick people and you think that teal is something to drink, well then this may not be the best industry for you, especially if you want to be successful. Talents are innate, and if you find that you have a natural flair for colors, patterns, designs, symmetry and proportions, then this is your first weapon on how to become a fashion designer. Put together a portfolio of your work; this will not only be the key to an educational background, it will serve as your resume once you formally enter fashion.

Expand your horizons.

You will never be able to get to where you want if you stick to your comfort zone all the time. Branch out – take sewing or pattern-making courses, develop skills in design software programs, enroll in a fashion degree, go to trainings and seminars on the subject, even if it seems to be about something as simple as the history of buttons. Read fashion magazines, watch out for fashion shows you can go to, keep up with the current trends, browse the web for what’s in and what’s what in pop culture, what the controversies are in fashion and so on. This is all very important in how to become a fashion designer, because you’ll need to be constantly updated so that you know what you’re getting into and what the competition is like.

Make your connections.

Start your fashion career by getting an internship or any entry-level job related to the industry. Once you’re in, make as many connections as you can, from small to big. Don’t underestimate the power of who you know; even the mail-room boy might be able to help you in the future. Include connections in all possible areas of fashion, meaning don’t just stick to the more established designers and the bosses. Get to know the advertising and marketing team, the merchandise display and salespeople, the photographers and editors, and you’ll have a wide network of valuable names that will come in handy once you’ve managed to establish yourself. How to become a fashion designer isn’t an easy path, but like all dreams, with enough hard work, you’ll get there.

Become a Fashion Designer With Creativity and Passion

To become a fashion designer, you must be a very creative person with an eye for style. Fashion designers are people who conceptualize and create outfits that clothing companies will sell to consumers. They follow current fashion trends and determine what people will consider stylish and fashionable.

Fashion designers often know that it is an interest of theirs at young ages. As children they liked to dress themselves and their toys in different outfits and liked to come up with new and interesting ways to wear and match different accessories. They also generally take an interest in fashion magazines and celebrity fashions at an early age as well. However, if you are interested in becoming a fashion designer and you have an eye for what looks good on people, there are many opportunities to get into the business.

As you would expect, in order to become a fashion designer, you must have a great interest in fashion trends and clothing. It is a good idea to follow fashion magazines and watch fashion shows to get ideas for new designs and trends. Try to determine what will be popular in the future and think of outfits that could fit these new trends.

If you don’t already, it is a good idea to learn how to sew and make clothing. Though a professional designer is not usually required to create the clothes themselves, having a knowledge of how clothes are made will help in the design process. It is also good to have these skills in order to create basic prototypes of your design ideas so that you can more easily promote them.

As a fashion designer, one of your main jobs is to sketch the designs for your clothing ideas so others will know what your new outfit is intended to look like. A good fashion designer must be able to produce detailed and accurate designs for their clothing ideas. Part of this is having a knowledge of different cloths and materials, knowing how to draw accurate body proportions, as well as the ability to choose and mix colors.

If you do not know how to sketch designs properly or effectively, it may help to go to a design school or take design classes. Though a degree in fashion design is not required to find a job, it is extremely helpful because it lets potential employers know that you have a working knowledge of the industry as well as how to draft accurate designs. Many colleges and universities offer programs in fashion design and you can choose to take a two year or four year track.

Whether you decide to attend a school or not, be sure to keep a portfolio of the work you have done. When you apply for jobs, you should be able to produce a number of sample designs that you have come up with. This will give your clients an idea of your sense of style.

Do whatever you can to learn about the industry. Read magazines, talk to professionals, watch TV programs, and whatever else you can do. The more you know, the better chance you will have in achieving success as a fashion designer.