What Is The Difference Between A Fashion Designer and A Technical Designer?

Fashion designers and technical designers both work within the fashion industry to create unique, beautiful garments and accessories. The work of fashion designers and technical designers is unique, and sometimes, unusual. So, what are the differences between the two career fields?

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers are responsible for conceptualizing and creating garments, handbags, shoes, or other accessories. Fashion designers typically create sketches, observe fashion trends and changes within the fashion industry, and perform trend research. Furthermore, a fashion designer may attend trade shows and fashion shows for inspiration. Fashion designers develop a concept or an overall theme for their fashion collection. It is imperative to create their own, individual spin on creative design, while making their creative mark within the fashion industry. Once a traditional paper sketch or computer aided design sketch is created, it will be sent to a technical designer to send to production. During this time, a fashion designer will choose fabric or embellishments for the garment or accessory. Adjustments and fittings are also a part of a fashion designer’s responsibilities in order to create a seamless, quality garment or accessory.

After a collection of garments or accessories are created, a fashion designer must create a runway show to highlight their hard work. Gathering models and promotion is vital to creating a runway show to share a fashion designer’s creations with the fashion industry. Working with makeup and hair stylists will be necessary in order to achieve a successful concept. In order to find the perfect location during the fashion season, a fashion designer will have to scout locations and work with lighting, music, and stage crew members. The right location and promotion is vital in producing a successful runway show, especially during prime fashion season. Once the garments or accessories are complete, the location is settled, and team members are locked down, a fashion designer can showcase their work to the fashion world. Magazine editors, designers, and large manufacturers attend fashion shows to learn about independent designers, in addition to new designers, in order to select products for editorial features or mass production

In order to become a trained fashion designer, a prospective fashion designer will need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design or Fashion Merchandising. Academic coursework may include sewing techniques, fashion design for different body shapes, fashion trends, and tailoring. Furthermore, coursework may include topics such as garment construction, color theory, textiles, fashion history, visual merchandising, branding, and apparel design. Computer aided design techniques, drawing techniques, merchandising theories, and marketing may also be included. It is imperative that a fashion designer obtains a fashion designing apprenticeship or internship. Apprenticeships and internships at a small or large fashion house will help a fashion designer understand garment construction, production, lead times, and insight into the fashion industry. A fashion designing apprenticeship or internship will teach a fashion designer valuable sewing and construction skills, allow a fashion designer to network, and gain a deeper understanding about complicated and fast-paced fashion industry.

Technical Designer

Technical designers are essentially the engineers of the fashion manufacturing industry. Once a fashion designer sketches a garment or accessory, a technical designer will figure out how a sketch can be brought to life. Technical designers are the mediators between fashion designers and the production staff. A fashion designer will send the sketch or concept to the technical designer, in order to create a solid, technical design for the garment or accessory. A technical designer will work with the fashion designer in order to ensure all of the notions and details are correct. Examples of details may include thread color, stitch gauges, buttons, and zipper details.

Within the fashion industry, a technical designer will then take the technical design and create a technical package, or tech pack. A technical package will include various details for the production team, such as bill of materials, final sketch of garment or accessory, packaging instructions, label or hangtag placement, wash description, sewing details, and points of measurement. The information within the technical package is crucial for the production team, as all of the information has to be accurate in order to create a garment of accessory. Once the technical package is finished, it is sent, along with the pattern of the garment or accessory, to the production team for prototyping and creation. The production team will create a prototype or sample of the proposed garment or accessory. Once a sample is created, it will be checked for any specification issues, and then scheduled to be shown to the designer. Fittings and adjustments may be made during this time, by scheduling a model fitting for the sample. Once any adjustments and fit comments have been made, the technical designer will send the comments to the pattern maker, designer, and factory. Once the fit process has been approved, the technical package will be sent to the production staff for mass production. Furthermore, a technical designer is responsible for calculating fabric shrinkage, assisting the design team, and assisting the patternmaker with technical patterns.

In order to become a technical designer, a prospective designer will need to obtain an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design or Technical Design. Coursework may include garment construction, sewing, patternmaking, textiles, and color theory. The bulk of a technical designer’s academic coursework will focus on computer design skills using Adobe Illustrator software and Photoshop. Furthermore, a technical designer will be utilizing web-based Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Product Data Management (PDM) software to communicate with all members of the fashion manufacturing team. PLM and PDM software are mainly specific to the manufacturing and fashion industries; therefore, it is crucial for a prospective technical designer to properly learn how to use each.

Additionally, a technical designer’s academic journey will include learning how to create technical packages, check for tolerance or seam issues on samples, correct digital and traditional patterns, and overall garment/accessory design. Furthermore, technical designers will learn about the fashion industry, basic garment fabrication and production, design basics, and design processes. Prior to graduation from a technical designer program, it is essential for a prospective technical designer to obtain an internship. A technical design internship at a small or large garment manufacturing company may be extremely beneficial for a student. A technical design intern may work as an assistant technical designer, while understanding how to input data for factories and vendors, update sample packages, create technical packages, and modify technical packages.

Career Spotlight: Fashion Designer

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