Have you ever been glued to the television watching Project Runway marathons while following along with the challenges, sketching along, and perhaps even sewing your own designs? When you were a kid, did you use your allowance to purchase all the top fashion magazines (and perhaps, you still do)? Has becoming a fashion designer all you have ever wanted to do, but besides having the ideas and talent you are not sure how to go about it? Then this article is the perfect read for you.

Can You Become a Fashion Designer?

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Who can become a fashion designer? You must be creative. You must be able to not only sew, but enjoy doing it, because you will do a lot of sewing. Designers need to understand pattern making, cutting, grading and garment construction. You should have an eye for textures, textiles, colors, and patterns. A designer should be able to visualize in three dimensions, see the movement of the fabric, different fabrics together, and the entire garment as a whole. You should be able to take an idea and execute it into a final project that impresses and inspires something new and exciting.

Mixing the Past with the Present and Building a New Fashion Forward

You should love following not only the latest trends in fashion, but also have a love and appreciation of the history of fashion. You should be innovative in the creation of new fashion-forward ideas while saluting the past and paying homage to the pioneers of trend and textile. Embracing the nostalgia of fashion brilliance from decades past and recycling the creative ideas by folding them into your own brilliance will give you an edge above your fellow designers.

A fashion designer is an artist, but someone who is also able to see the future. Fashion is a cutthroat business. In order to succeed, a designer must be able to create new trends. He or she must be able to innovate new pieces that are not only attractive but also wearable and unique. A designer should evoke passion and contribute to the constant revolving evolution of the fashion industry.

How Does One Become a Designer?

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After realizing the desire to become a fashion designer, you have to study. The first step towards a career for a designer is to attend a college that has a bachelors program in fashion design or merchandising. Some of the most prestigious fashion designer program schools include Parsons, The New School for Design, (FIT) The Fashion Institute of Technology, Pratt University, Kent State University, Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, and The Academy of Art University.


In the right program, you will learn how to construct various types of garments from ladies to menswear and from everyday fashion to Couture. You will learn how to create fashion illustrations by hand and using the most up-to-date digital illustration design technology. You will learn about textiles and how important and crucial they are to a successful designer.

Your fashion design courses will teach pattern making both forwards and backward. This means you will be able to create a pattern and then make a garment, but you will also be able to take an existing garment, deconstruct it, and then make a pattern from it. You will also learn about the fashion industry’s business side. You will study how to solve problems, plan shows, execute designs on a budget, promote yourself to fashion houses and buyers, and you will learn how to communicate your designs to others.

Starting Your Portfolio

One of the most important things you will do while attending school is start building your portfolio of designs. Your class projects are a great place to begin. Your beginning portfolio will show your growth as a young designer. It will also represent your own unique voice as an artist. If you don’t have a niche yet, that is okay. It will come with time as you learn the different styles and genres of fashion design and where your own view and creativity fits in.

Your portfolio will help you get your first internship. It will help you get jobs and be invited to guest design for fashion industry events. It will help you get an apprenticeship or get into the top graduate programs as well.

Career Path Surprises

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There are many types of careers in the designer business world. Studying fashion and design can lead to a life path you may have not set out on at the beginning but could easily step into as you learn the daily happenings of a fast-paced, inspiring, collision course of an industry. You may have the idea that you want to design your own collections, for example, but then work as the head stylist on The Bold and the Beautiful and win an Emmy.

Fashion Designer Career Avenues

As a fashion designer, you fill a role with the highest profile in the fashion industry. You are the genius behind creations of clothing, handbags, shoes, hats, socks, stockings, and more. You may design children’s wear, menswear, ball gowns, women’s lingerie, or any other clothing design focus. You may work for a big fashion house, in large retail branding, or small boutique design. You may also be a freelance designer.

Besides designing garments, there are other avenues for fashion designers to find work in. There are jobs as fashion illustrators. Illustrators use the top digital fashion design technology to convey the ideas and creations of fashion designers. You can also work as a merchandiser, pattern maker, a textile designer, a fashion buyer, costume designer, a fashion stylist, or a personal stylist. There are also careers in garment technology, fashion public relations, fashion editing, and fashion writing. If you are brilliant at construction and design, you may also want to teach.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

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What are the main job duties and responsibilities of a fashion designer? There are several markets in the fashion industry and depending on where you fit in as a designer, some duties will include visualizing an idea and conveying it to a design by hand or computer, being able to select appropriate fabrics, making patterns, constructing garments, inspiring others, being able to market your designs and promote yourself, and also being able to find a voice in your artistry that is unique and will get others to take notice.

You also may study the latest and emerging trends of fashion by following the media, social networking, magazines, television, and movies and knowing what is popular among all ages and locations. Additionally, you will most likely find yourself needing to know the latest trends involving color, shapes, and textiles and being able to communicate clearly with those aiding in the execution of your designs.

Fashion Designer Income in Reality

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Unless you catch a really big break, you are not going to start out your first year or even first five years as a fashion designer making a lot of money. The lowest range for beginning designers is between $30,000 to $40,000 a year. The median range for fashion designers is just under $60,000 a year, with the top designers raking in anywhere between $100,000 to $450,00 a year. As with any artistic career, a fashion designer must pay her dues.

Only 10 percent of fashion designers will actually be able to launch their own brand and have it sold in a retail market. Many designers will work under other designers who are already successful. For example, some of the most famous fashion designer brands such as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld, and Stella McCartney all have numerous fashion designers working for them to continue to convey their design vision.

Follow Your Dreams

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If you want to become a designer for fame and fortune, you may be disappointed. If you want to be a fashion designer because you used to make the coolest Barbie clothes out of tinfoil and yarn when you were ten years old, or you used to knit sweaters for your dogs and parade them in runway shows in the backyard, then you probably have a good shot in the fashion industry.

The number one requirement to be successful in the fashion business is to have passion and a true love for it. There are going to be a lot more disappointments than successes. However, if you don’t care because you know being a fashion designer is being true to who you are as an artist and you accept that you may not be famous and are okay with it, then go full force. Follow your dreams and see what the industry throws your way.

Make a Checklist and Get Started

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Set up some goals for yourself. Make a checklist to accomplish those goals. Visit some schools. Visit some fashion houses. Go speak to some fashion buyers. Walk through a fabric store and touch as many different fabrics as you can. Attend as many fashion shows as you can. Work some internships or jobs in every different area of the fashion design industry. Take a leap and become a fashion designer.

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