Fashion designers specialize in conceiving and constructing clothing from haute couture to mass market garments. This includes designing all forms of apparel, shoes, ornamentation and accessories.
If you want to look around and see the public wearing dresses, suits, shoes and trends you’ve designed, a career in fashion could be calling. But before you move to New York City or Los Angeles to start your career, learn the basics of what it takes to become a fashion designer.
It’s becoming more common for employers to seek fashion designers with a two- or four-year degree in arts and design. Studying fashion can accelerate your career by providing a background in fabrics, fashion trends, cut and color. In addition, fashion industry internships and access to high-profile contests can help build an enviable fashion portfolio.
Don’t worry, it’s not all like The Devil Wears Prada, but successful fashion designers in the making must master a number of artistic and practical skills, including sketching, pattern making, sewing and tailoring — all while understanding color schemes, textiles, accessories, surface texture, design and fashion trends within the industry.
Most fashion designers start out with a degree in arts and design that specializes in fashion and work their first jobs as assistants or pattern makers. With experience and time, they can rise in the ranks or move on to create their own fashion labels. Even though fashion design can be a radically creative pursuit, to be a success in any venue other than haute couture, fashion designers must temper their creative vision with the practicality of their garments and to the desires of potential retail buyers.
As of May 2006, figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated the average annual income of fashion designers was about $62,610 with fashion design management positions up around $70,000 and jobs in cut and sew apparel manufacturing being close to the same.
Though most new fashion designers start out on the low end of the pay scale, talented designers rise to the top and become stars. Famous fashion designers such as Giorgio Armani, Anna Sui, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang and more have earned fame, fortune and celebrity status in the fashion world and beyond.