How to Be a Fashion Designer
To be or not to be a fashion designer is a tough choice. Fashion designers are not people you get introduced to all the time. And successful fashion designers are usually too busy or too secretive to share how they got the job. So it can be a dilemma on whether you should take the plunge and invest a small fortune on an unknown future.
No rewarding career in life is ever made to be simple. Fashion design is no exception. Famous designers work extremely hard for their fame and money. But one thing is for sure – if you plan from the start to dedicate yourself, half the battle is won.
Many professionals in the fashion industry will readily agree that fashion students nowadays think that they deserve a paycheck without “paying their dues.” What dues, you ask? Most of them might sound like modern-day slavery. This includes frequent 18-hour work days; weekends spent at work; fetching coffee for the entire department; and being criticized and picked on constantly by co-workers.
Yes, the horror stories you see on reality TV are true. Some of them at least. In a creative industry, anything can happen. So be prepared for it.
Still want to be a fashion designer come hell or rain?
Here are three mantras you should memorize:
1) Your portfolio is your design identity
Just like how celebrity models value their looks and work on maintaining their charm, you have to do the same for your portfolio. Future employers and the public are going to judge you based on your skill to design fabulous pieces. And your portfolio is going to show them exactly what you are capable of.
No matter how hard you work, procrastination can be really hard to beat sometimes. So the best way to get the most versatile fashion design portfolio would be to enroll for a fashion course. Being in school will force you to leave your comfort zones. With the right training and dedication, results are often impressive.
2) Understand why people dress the way they do
The Japanese have their kimonos, the Indians have their saris, and the Chinese have their cheongsams. Even though global fashion is now mainly influenced by top fashion cities like Paris, New York, and London, people around the world still dress differently. A true fashion designer has the EQ to understand what customers want and need.
Are people feeling warm in tropical climates? Do others need to cover up for religious reasons? What kind of jobs do they have? Are your designs simplistic yet stylish enough to be worn every day?
When it comes to fashion psychology, the variables are endless. Yes, you may argue that it is more fun to design for haute couture. But in reality, fashion is more of a business than an art. Even the rich from the highest echelons are still humans. One of the best ways to grow as a fashion designer is to create clothes for everyday people.
The exciting bit about fashion is that it changes every day. So no two days will ever be exactly the same.
3) Find a good fashion school
It can make all the difference in your life. Good schools have the facilities you need. And they also hire lecturers who are well-connected within the industry. Have plans to be an international fashion designer? Consider enrolling into an international school. This allows you to meet many sorts of people from around the world. And it can help you learn a bit more about understanding people like mentioned earlier.
While in school, you will work on assignments necessary to build the best portfolio before you graduate. You will make your own fashion collections, sketch your best designs, and pay homage by studying about the various designs and designers that made fashion history. A fashion design student’s life is nothing short of colorful and exciting.
If you feel that your country may be too conservative for full creative expression, an alternative is to study fashion abroad. Countries like Australia and Singapore are ideal for an English-speaking environment and career opportunities after graduation.
Feeling adventurous? Studying in developing nations can help you save money on craft materials. Not to mention, countries with strong manufacturing industries allow you to build a contact list of reliable suppliers. This will come in handy when you want to start your own label. Living costs in a developing nation is also less costly, so you spend less on your overall education. Countries like China, Thailand, and Sri Lanka can offer you this experience.
Want to find out more about studying fashion design abroad?
Everyone’s case is unique and we want to give the best advice that works for you. To ensure quality education every semester, there are limited seats in Raffles. And they are filling up fast! Need more information? Fill up an inquiry form and an experienced Education Consultant will provide you with a free consultation.
Become a Fashion Designer With These Basic Steps
Becoming a fashion designer is a creative journey in uncovering the student’s likes and dislikes. Styles and fads come and go and then come around again. This is true of the fashion design industry also, particularly so! The industry is often influenced by the entertainment industry (television, movies, music, etc.) For example, “That 70’s Show” gave hippie fashion a new comeback chic. This is true of other movies as well. A great example of this would be “Pirates of the Caribbean” that brought about a huge influx of skull and cross bones designs. The typical pirate symbol, more related to a gothic or punk style, became mainstream after the debut of the movies.
This pop culture influence inspires mass market designers. However, couture fashion designers strive to be the source of the inspiration rather than an imitator. The difference between this can be found in the training of the merchandiser versus the designer. Many aspiring fashion designers choose to go into fashion merchandising. However, these two fields require slightly different curriculum. One will focus on sales, marketing, and business where as the other–fashion design–will focus on creativity and imagination in bringing ideas and concepts to life.
Following middle school, students can choose college preparation courses to direct their educational tracks to their own possible careers. For a student wishing to take the path of a designer of any type, art classes are essential to building the basic knowledge and core concepts that they will use.
High school courses should be selected to assist in building a professional portfolio to show to potential design colleges. By starting their educational planning very early, it is possible for students to make the most of their high school years by focusing on extracurricular activities that will add spice to their college applications. For example, potential fashion designers can take classes not only in art but also specialized math and computer classes, multimedia classes, and drama activities that will allow them to explore different aspects of the fashion world. Some high schools even offer classes in small business ownership or entrepreneurial skills.
For students who end up at the college level and wish to break in to the fashion design industry, it is never too late. Courses in drawing, painting, life drawing, and silkscreen, and color theory, fashion and art history are some of the beginning requirements for any fashion design student. Advanced students of fashion design will continue with patternmaking, sewing basics, advanced sewing techniques, and digital designing.
It is crucial for a fashion design student to have access to this type of basic curriculum in college in order to prepare for the true test of their abilities: their internship. Once the student has taken the basic and advanced courses, it is time for them to specialize in some aspect of the fashion industry. When people think of fashion, they think of runway shows and couture collections. There are fashion centers throughout the world, but most people tend to consider New York City the center of all fashion design. If the college student did not choose a college near a fashion design center, it may be possible for them to choose an internship located in that area. Some other possible internship locations would be Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and other metropolitan areas.
The best source of internship possibilities will be the college faculty and guidance counselors. It is important to do your homework by researching potential internships; but, they can definitely guide the student to someone that they may not have considered.
The fashion world has its niches. Every designer starts somewhere. They do not just graduate from college and poof have their own design house and their own collections. They were mentored by someone in the business. Some of them were self taught and did not have the opportunity to study in a college environment but learned in the school of hard knocks. Whatever the case, if there is a desire to learn the fashion design business, then there is a way to do it.
Consider working at a place that does alterations or tailoring to build up sewing skills. Consider designing your own clothes. Think of functionality, practicality, body type, personal statements, coloring and fabric choice. Study the masters–who is on the edge of fashion now that you want to emulate? Why do you like their style? What IS your style?
By taking all of these factors into consideration, any student pursuing fashion can find their place in the design world.