Fashion designer
Product Designers

Fashion designers create designs for clothes that fit with, or predict, fashion trends and appeal to potential buyers. They may specialise in different areas of clothing, such as children's or sportswear.

Haute couture is the most exclusive area of fashion design and the hardest to get into. More opportunities exist in wholesale manufacturing and with large fashion retailers.

Work Activities

Fashion designers create designs for clothing and/or fashion accessories that fit with, or predict, trends and market demands.

Haute couture is the most exclusive area of design. Haute couture designers produce garments for individual clients and produce seasonal collections that influence the rest of the fashion industry. Some of these designers have their own fashion houses.

Fashion designers of ready-to-wear ranges create quality garments that they sell in selected 'upmarket' shops. They either follow the haute couture trend or create their own style.

Designers who work in wholesale manufacturing produce designs that are suitable for mass market production. They usually incorporate a particular house style or image into their designs. These designs are those seen in most high street shops and mail order catalogues.

Fashion designers work closely with textile designers as they need to be aware of different fabrics. Knowledge of pattern cutting and technical processes is also needed, even if the designer is not directly involved in some of these activities.

Fashion designers produce sketches of their design ideas before making a garment or accessory. They usually work two seasons ahead, communicating with buyers and forecasters to predict upcoming fashions.

When the clothes go into production, fashion designers give advice and sort out any problems with cutting or stitching. They oversee quality control.

Fashion designers may also visit trade fairs to find out about new fabrics and designs or to source new suppliers. The work may involve travelling locally, nationally and sometimes overseas.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills

  • Good communication, presentation and negotiation skills.
  • Creative and artistic skills.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Flexibility to adapt designs to suit clients' needs.
  • Good organisation and planning skills.
  • An understanding of different fabrics and clothes making.
  • An interest in fashion and new fashion trends.
  • To work to deadlines and budgets.
  • Knowledge of design-related software.

Self-employed or freelance fashion designers will need business and marketing skills.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of fashion designers

The largest employers of fashion designers are the large wholesale manufacturers. Other opportunities occur with large retailers. However, many fashion design firms are small businesses employing just a few designers.

Traditionally, clothing firms are based in the East Midlands, the North West, London and Scotland. Central design teams are based at company headquarters, often in London and the South East.


Entry routes and training

A common route into this career is via a Foundation course in Art and Design followed by a degree, HNC, HND or foundation degree in a subject such as fashion design.

Any kind of pre-entry experience is useful, since this is a very popular choice of career. Many new fashion designers gain experience abroad.

A lot of new fashion designers start out in junior positions, working with more experienced designers, gaining skills and experience along the way.

Entry requirements for foundation courses and degrees vary so it is important to check with individual colleges and universities.

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