Being a Fashion Designer is a highly rewarding job. There’s an amazing sense of accomplishment and joy seeing your final product on people and in stores. It’s very hands on, fast paced, and mentally challenging (in a good way), and when you find your niche it’s all the more enjoyable. Within Fashion, they are so many categories to chose from, all depending on what you want to do. As a Fashion Designer, your main responsibilities are to research future trends (sometimes forecasting up to 1 1/2 years in advance), design a product for your niche market, source the materials to create the product, and finally help communicate your vision to transform it into a physical garment. I’ve been in the industry for 9 years, and have worked in Denim, Runway, and on Contemporary Labels. The last 3 years, I have worked at Paige as their Senior Women’s Designer, focusing mostly on bottoms and anything denim.

What are the steps someone needs to take to become fashion designer?


1. Education and basic knowledge of garment construction are the two most significant tools in the beginning of your career. How do we make this garment? How do you get into this garment? Will this fall apart within a couple of wears? You may have a team to help you with this, but you need to know the basics. Fashion is so much more than drawing a pretty sketch, this is all the more reason why it can be a great career. You have to use your brain and problem solve. Do the work and know your stuff. Knowledge is power!

2. The basics are learned through school and/or internships. Internships sound simple, but it’s one of the greatest ways to get your foot in the door of the fashion world. You’ll learn industry terms, have hands on experience, and make connections. Showing you’re a talented hard worker could mean a great job.


Sounds obvious, but you have to be passionate about fashion to be in the industry. The days are long and the work is hard.

Determining Your Design Category (What do you want to specialize in?)

There are so many categories within the fashion world (Childrenswear, Contemporary, Menswear, Womenswear, Runway, Action Sport, the list goes on).  Within each category you can specialize in Knits, Soft Wovens, Hard Wovens, Denim, etc. There are endless options, and it’s up to you to find your right fit. Again, internships! They will help you determine what you like and what your niche may be. You might find you dislike working in Runway and love working in Denim just by having a couple of internships. Once you figure out your niche, then you have to do your time.

Work Hard/ Do your time

In the beginning, entry level jobs are not always the funnest. You may have to do long hours, drive around the city to find the perfect button, or scour the internet for the ideal inspiration. But all the lessons learned as an Assistant Designer help you to become a confident and smart Fashion Designer. Once you get the hang of things, it becomes more rewarding and fulfilling.

Stay Inspired. Stay Up to date

This step is a constant responsibility for a Fashion Designer, also one of the most enjoyable! Trend Analysis. You’ll forage through the internet for inspiring imagery, watch all the runway shows, shop at vintage stores, check out the blogs, and pay attention to what's happening in street fashion. This is personally one of my favorite parts of being a designer. It’s getting to appreciate what the fashion world has to offer and to look at beautiful products from a designer’s perspective. Art shows, music, and architecture are also things that can inspire.

What are startup/education costs?

The start-up costs of producing your own label can go from zero to millions depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Education also varies depending on which school you choose. Class fees may be similar to other areas of study but material costs will be higher (sewing machines, fabric, dress-form, etc.)

What is the pay like?

Pay varies between brands and levels of experience. Entry level begins at $11+/hr to $35K. With more experience, the salary increases of course. The pay varies within categories as well.

What are the best parts of being a fashion designer?

Seeing your final product on people and in editorial spreads are the most fulfilling aspects as a Fashion Designer. There is a great sense of team work and collaboration. Knowing that it took a whole team to help execute a vision, bringing it from an idea into something you can hold in your hards. Also, great discounts on clothes and the occasional FREEBIE!

What are the biggest challenges in being a fashion designer?

Depending on the category you choose, fashion designers for the most part work long hours, especially in the beginning. You can easily work 12+ hour days. Also, you don’t get to design and draw pretty sketches all day. Initial designs might only take up 20% of your work day. The rest is filled with all sorts of other craziness, including problem solving, research, meetings, fittings, etc. - This all part of design and the execution of a product. Another challenge is remaining within your price-point. Often times you’ll need to revise your initial design without losing the quality or aesthetic of your design. This is a consistent struggle for all designers.

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