How Do I Become A Fashion Designer?

"I love to sketch fashion designs and sew them in my spare time. I am seriously considering a career in fashion design but I don’t know where to start. Do I need a degree to become a fashion designer? How do I become a fashion designer?"

asked by Sara M. from Durham, North Carolina

The field of fashion design is one of the more glamorous professions in the world today. It is also one of the most competitive. It takes more than love of clothes and a keen eye for detail to become one. There is a lot of technical knowledge that goes with designing apparel and merely being able to sketch designs and sew fabric together are just not enough.

The answer to your first question is yes, you need a degree to become a fashion designer. Technically speaking, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule as you can always make your own website, feature your creations there, receive orders and mail the products directly to the customers. However, you’ll need a lot of luck to succeed in the cutthroat world of fashion design if you go this route.

A bachelor’s degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising is usually the minimum educational requirement for those who want to enter the fashion industry. These degrees, which can be obtained in three to four years, teach students not only the basics of fashion, art and design, textiles, pattern making, graphic design, fashion marketing and draping and cutting but provide valuable industry knowledge as well.

More than the technical lessons are the advantages given by fashion schools to their students in terms of getting their foot in the industry. They work together with established names in fashion in projects or contests where popular designers critique graduating students on their designs. The most promising talents are then awarded financial support and the chance to meet and establish contacts with the pillars of the industry. The fact is, when you are enrolled in a fashion degree program, your chances of getting noticed by a fashion house and ultimately getting hired upon graduation is higher.

Another advantage of being enrolled in a fashion design program is that it compels you to develop your own design portfolio. Employers ask prospective fashion designers for their portfolio before deciding to hire them and developing this starts in school. Fashion programs also provide an opportunity to young fashion designers to deepen their knowledge of the industry by participating in contests and internships.

It’s very important to keep in mind that getting into a good fashion school is not going to be easy. Admission is very competitive as schools tend to select students who they feel have promise in succeeding in the industry. You’d have an edge if you know how to draw and already have your own portfolio and/or have sewn your own creations. Best of all, you need to demonstrate that you are passionate about fashion.

After school, you have the option to develop your own line of clothing or find work as an assistant designer in a fashion house. Developing your own clothing label, however, can take years and entails a lot of sacrifice on your end—often to the point of living just barely above the poverty line. If you work in a fashion house and prove your talent, you can rise up the ranks to become the chief designer or creative director of the company.

One last thing: In the world of digital technology, all aspiring designers should be comfortable working with computers and the Internet. Computer aided design now comprises a large part of fashion designing and online stores are now part and parcel of the avenues where designers can sell their creations. An aspiring designer who refuses to learn new technology will definitely be left behind by those who are more willing to embrace it.

Becoming a fashion designer is easy. Succeeding in the field is not. It takes more than raw talent and creativity to achieve your goals. You need to have the necessary training and the business savvy to etch your name in this very competitive industry.

Career Spotlight: Fashion Designer

Fashion Designer

Fashion Designer

Fashion designers are the masterminds behind the latest fashions. They design and create original pieces of clothing, accessories, and more. Each piece of clothing we wear was first conceptualized by [...]

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