If you’re creative and like the idea of sketching designs, putting together fabrics, and instructing others on how to put your ideas into action, then a career as a fashion designer may be for you. If you TIVO every episode of Project Runway, can’t wait to see the latest styles before anyone else, and have a subscription to Vogue magazine then a career as a fashion designer might be for you.
80% of all fashion designers are women and 75% of all salaried fashion designers work in New York or California.
The good news is that the median annual average wage is around $65,000. The bad news is that competition for jobs is fierce because there are too many people trying to get in to too few jobs. You also don’t have to have any formal education. On the job training and experience is considered more important than a college degree. And associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in fashion design may give you an advantage though. Experience in sewing, textiles, tailoring, and CAD are also helpful.
Fashion designers often work in teams throughout the process, so being able to get along well with others is a plus. They also need to have a good idea about what consumers are going to want in advance. Of course, that’s not always possible, but a good fashion designer will follow trends and listen to what consumers are saying and what they will be likely to buy, especially since fashion changes constantly.
Clothing manufacturers fall into 3 main categories:
Haute Couture – These are clothes that are made to order for a specific client. The clothes in this category are made from expensive fabrics and accessories and usually take a long time to complete. They are also usually sewn by hand. Fit and quality are more important than cost. For haute couture customers cost is no object.
Ready to wear – Ready to wear is kind of a cross between haute couture and mass market clothing. They aren’t as expensive as haute couture and not specifically made for a single customer, but they are still made from quality fabrics and are also quite expensive.
Mass Market – The mass market is by far the largest market. These clothes are made of cheaper fabric and are introduced to the market after ready to wear. Designers tend to wait a season before coming out with the mass market versions of a brand.
If a career as a fashion designer sounds exciting to you there are plenty of fashion schools around or you could get a degree in fashion design. Your best bet is to get a job as an intern and start learning the ropes hands-on and get a head start in experience.