Apparel Design

Fashion or apparel designers create the clothing and accessories that people wear every day. This job involves not only artistic skill but also an eye to trends to allow an apparel designer to keep up with or even promote the latest fashions.

What Do Apparel Designers Do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, apparel designers:

— Study trends in the fashion industry to promote or anticipate customer demands
— Create collections of certain fashions for promotional purposes
— Sketch or draw ideas for new designs or fashions using computer-aided design programs or traditional sketching materials
— Collect and examine fabric samples from trade shows or manufacturers
— Make decisions about fabrics and accessories for garments
— Work with teams of designers to create prototypes or models
— Organize and conduct fashion shows to model new products
— Present ideas to management or buyers
— Handle marketing issues with retailers or consumers
— Manage seamstresses and others who make clothing

Apparel designers take a product from conception to realization to marketing and must be able to work with a wide variety of people in many different job capacities.

How Much Do Apparel Designers Earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, apparel designers earned a median annual salary of $64,530 in 2010. Of course, the salaries for this job varied tremendously depending on where the designer worked; the lowest median salary was calculated at no more than $32,500, while the highest median salary was $130,890. Apparel designers who are hired by large companies tend to make more money than those who freelance. A few lucky fashion designers who have formed their own lines earn excessive amounts; however, this is not typical for most designers.

The BLS found that apparel designers who were hired as managers earned the highest median salaries at $70,660. Those hired in the apparel manufacturing industry earned median salaries of $65,790, while those who worked with wholesalers earned a median salary of $63,750. Apparel designers working in specialized services earned $60,900 in median salary, and those who worked exclusives with performing arts or sports earned a median salary of $44,130.

What Is The Job Outlook for Apparel Designers?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted little to no job growth in the next decade for apparel designers. While this may sound disheartening, it is important to remember that this job field has always had a high turnover rate. If you are willing to take an entry-level position and work your way up in the field, there is still great opportunity to be successful as an apparel designer.

What Type of Degree Do I Need to Become an Apparel Designer?

Technically, you do not need a degree to become an apparel designer. If you are trying to get a job in this competitive field, it is good to have a strong portfolio of original work; however, having a design degree may also give you an edge over others who are competing for the job.

Most fashion design degrees are two-year degrees and can be obtained through junior colleges or vocational schools. Some fashion designers have a four-year degree in fine arts or graphic design from a college or university.

If you have always wanted to design clothing and have strong artistic skills, apparel design may be the right job field for you. However, you should pursue a degree to gain professional experience and credentials and work hard on developing a good portfolio that showcases your best work. You should also keep up with the latest fashions by doing concerted research into fashion trends and methods. It may help you to attend trade shows or other gatherings to meet and talk with apparel designers before deciding if this is the field for you.

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