What Is the Job of a Fashion Designer?

Fashion designers are primarily responsible for designing and making clothing, footwear, and accessories.

Fashion designer responsibilities may include overseeing teams of designers or other team members to make their designs a reality and then marketing their plans for retail or other markets. 

What Is The Workplace Of A Fashion Designer Like?

A fashion designer that works for wholesalers or manufacturers creates designs for the world market. These designs are manufactured in various sizes, colours and materials.

A small number of high-fashion (haute couture) designers are self-employed. They create custom designs for individual clients, usually at very high prices.

Other high-fashion designers sell their plans in their stores or cater to specialty stores or high-end fashion department stores. These designers create a mixture of original garments and also established fashion trends.

Fashion designers employed by manufacturing establishments, wholesalers, or design firms generally work regular hours in well-lighted and comfortable settings.

Some fashion designers specialize in costume design for the performing arts, movies, and television productions. The work of costume designers is similar to other fashion designers, except they must extensively research the styles worn during the performance.

They may also work with directors to select and create specific attire.

Costume fashion designers make sketches of designs, select fabric and other materials, and oversee the production of the costumes. They also must stay within the costume budget.

Designers who freelance usually work on a contractual basis or by the job. They often have to adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines, meeting with the clients during evenings or weekends.

Freelance designers tend to work longer hours and in smaller environments and are under constant pressure to please clients and find new ones to have a steady income.

Regardless of their work setting, all fashion designers occasionally work long hours to meet deadlines or get ready for fashion shows.

The nature of the fashion business requires consistent communication with suppliers, manufacturers, and customers all over North America and the world.

Many fashion designers travel several times a year to trade and fashion shows to learn about the latest fashion trends. Designers may also travel frequently to meet with fabric and material suppliers and manufacturers.

What Does A Fashion Designer Do?

What Is the Job of a Fashion Designer?

Fashion designers design clothing and fashion ranges. They may work in high fashion or designer ready-to-wear fashion, as well as in a high-street manner. Designers often specialize in particular types of clothing – for example, in men’s, children’s or sportswear. 

Primary Responsibilities

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of everyday tasks Fashion Designers are required to complete.

  • Designing and creating garments and accessories for men, women, and children:
  • Defining technical specifications for the garments and being knowledgeable about fabrics, patterns, shapes, and colours;
  • selecting and testing different materials;
  • designing any clothing, from casual to more formal attire;
  • using their artistic vision, knowledge, and skills to translate their ideas into sketches and fabrics into garments;
  • cutting, pinning, and sewing fabric pieces together to make them become parts of a whole;
  • knowing about patternmaking and fittings, creating patterns as needed, and
  • tweaking and improving the designs.
  • Providing design direction for each season, liaising with employees, suppliers, buyers, and merchandisers to create, share, and build new ideas, as well as setting new styles:
  • Giving out clear instructions to Seamstresses and other employees;
  • overseeing the production progress and ensure deadlines are met and
  • create and participate in sales presentations and marketing activities.
  • Analyzing sales and creating products that support business objectives.
  • Keeping up-to-date on the latest fashion trends and techniques, as well as finding the best quality fabrics:
  • Exploring and evaluating new and emerging trends for Fashion and graphics by going to stores, scouring the internet and magazines, and travelling to trade, textile or Fashion shows.
  • Ensuring all pieces reflect the brand’s style and personality.
  • Overseeing fitting sessions, taking notes, and arranging for the necessary adjustments to be made.
  • Organizing, procuring, and maintaining fabrics, trims, and other materials.
  • Daily Tasks
  • Liaising with colleagues and other members of the fashion industry to create trends and new styles.
  • Conveying an idea through a sketch.
  • Working with different fabrics.
  • Researching trends, colours, and fabrics for the upcoming seasons.
  • Testing materials, estimating costs, and establishing deadlines.
  • Creating a network of vendors and suppliers.

What Do I Need To Do To Become A Fashion Designer?

To be a fashion designer, you will need to have a good eye for colour and shape. You’ll need skills such as pattern-cutting and sewing. You’ll also need to be able to spot trends.

You will usually need a relevant higher education qualification, such as a foundation degree, HND or degree, to be a fashion designer. A course that teaches both design and technical skills will give you the practical knowledge to work in the industry.

It is essential to do your research when choosing a course by reading industry literature and speaking to different course providers. You should check carefully what areas are covered over the length of a system and what kind of links the fashion department has with the industry.

A good starting point for research into training providers is the list of colleges that are members of the British Fashion Council. The Council recognizes these institutions as offering high-quality training in Fashion.

You will need to put together a portfolio of your work to take to the course and job interviews. Your portfolio should include mood boards, designs and technical drawings.

An employer or college may also ask you to take along actual garments that you have produced.

There is intense competition for jobs in this industry, so any contacts and work experience you have, for example, through an internship, will help when looking for work.

Fashion designers are likely to work long and irregular hours to meet deadlines and prepare for fashion shows.

These designers most commonly work in New York or California and may have the opportunity to travel to various destinations for fashion shows or meetings with fabric and material suppliers. Explore some other aspects of a career as a fashion designer here.

How Much Do Fashion Designers Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary for fashion designers was $87,610.

The industry with the highest level of employment of fashion designers was apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers, where designers made an average salary of $87,530.

The highest paying industry was other miscellaneous manufacturing, where designers earned an average salary of $106,920 in 2018.

What Is The Job Outlook?

The BLS also reported that the job outlook for fashion designers from 2018 to 2028 is 1%. This means little to no change in the number of fashion designers employed during this time frame.

This may be attributed to the balance of clothing production overseas with the growing need for fashion designers in the retail trade industry.

How Do You Become A Fashion Designer?

Associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs are available in fashion design, and some of these fashion design programs are available online.

However, most fashion designers need at least a bachelor’s degree. Typically this degree is in fashion design or another related major, such as fashion marketing or fashion merchandising.

Bachelor’s degree programs in fashion design are typically offered as a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.

These programs usually have sewing labs and other hands-on experiences, such as fashion shows or fashion tours in various organizations within the fashion industry.

These programs may require a senior project and may include courses in topics like:

  • Clothing construction
  • Colour
  • Product development
  • Patternmaking
  • Textiles
  • Fashion marketing
  • Fashion sketching
  • Retail buying

Outside of a formal degree, fashion designers need to gain experience to help build their professional portfolios. This is often done through internships (which may or may not be a requirement for an undergraduate program) or working as an assistant designer for a time.

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Creativity and a strong artistic sense, always willing to try out new ideas:
  • Having an excellent fashion sense and the ability to translate trends into garments.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills:
  • Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, to convey clear instructions;
  • displaying strong customer service skills, as well as leadership; and
  • being able to work cohesively with design assistants and other staff members.
  • Organizational and time management skills:
  • Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
  • having time management and prioritization skills to satisfy the demand;
  • being highly responsible, reliable, and organized; and
  • having strong attention to detail.
  • Self-motivated and willing to work independently, as well as part of a team.

To become a successful Fashion Designer, one needs to have a comprehensive knowledge of the industry and good instincts to foresee upcoming trends.

Fashion Designers must also be experts at handling different types of fabrics, meaning they must be proficient in all areas of sewing and patternmaking.

Although a person doesn’t necessarily need a degree to enter this profession, it’s highly advisable to complete a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design, Fashion Technology, Textiles, Fabric Design, or other similar disciplines.

For Fashion Designers that want to go the extra mile and launch their brand or clothing line, a degree in Business is a must.

Another option is doing extensive research first to find information about start-up costs, design copyrights, licensing, manufacturing, and any other information specific to the clothing industry.

It’s essential to have this information before starting a line to be fully prepared when launching it arrives. While there are plenty of entry-level jobs in the Fashion industry, the competition for them is one of the fiercest.

The one thing that can make the difference between aspiring Fashion Designers is experience, which is precious and sought after by employers.

The best way to gain experience in the world of Fashion is by participating in internship programs. Most Fashion Designers are required to have at least 2 to 5 years of experience in the field.

Fashion Designers must also be proficient in computer-assisted designing (CAD) software applications, including Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and Microsoft Office Suite.

The Fashion field is primarily talent-based; hence, most Fashion Designers rely solely on their experience, network, and portfolio to unlock new career opportunities.

Becoming a Fashion Designer is not an easy journey to pursue; it requires hard work and dedication to leave their mark in the fashion world.

Understandably, there are no such things as regular office hours in this deadline-driven industry—with a new collection being launched every season or so. Besides, the creative process of Fashion Designers never truly stops.

It’s not uncommon for them to wake up during the middle of the night to lay down ideas or spend long hours carrying out research and curating mood boards.

What Is Prêt-a-porter Fashion Design?

What Is the Job of a Fashion Designer?

In the past, designer clothing was way beyond the reach of the masses – it was considered haute couture, and designer collections were only seen on catwalks and clothing made-to-order for only a select few.

The general public could only view these pieces of apparel either in fashion magazines or on T.V. when worn by movie stars on the red carpet.

In the 1950’s, prêt-a-porter clothing came into western Fashion and proposed an alternative to haute couture for the general public. Prêt-a-porter (ready-to-wear) clothing provides the public with high-end clothing (a cross between haute couture and mass market) made in small quantities to guarantee exclusivity but not made for individual clients.

Ready-to-wear clothing is intended to be worn without significant alteration and produced in standard sizes that fit most people. Designers use traditional patterns, factory equipment, and specific construction techniques that keep costs lower when compared to custom-sewn versions of the same item.

Prêt-a-porter collections are usually presented by fashion designers and fashion houses twice a year during Fashion Week. These shows anticipate what the following year’s trends and styles are going to be.

Collections are typically grouped in spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, swim, and bridal.

Prêt-a-porter clothing designers make this clothing with above-average attention given to fabric choice, cut, and detail – clothing that will warrant having the name of a famous designer or a famous brand attached to it.

This type of clothing is relatively expensive and generally designed with the upper-middle class in mind and can be found in certain stores that carry designer names and brands.

What Is Haute Fashion Design?

An Haute fashion designer is responsible for designing individualized, custom clothing for an elite clientele. Clients are taken one at a time and are given undivided attention.

Designs are conceptualized and constructed according to a client’s exact measurements, style, preferences, and personality.

Each piece is made by hand from start to finish from expensive and high-quality fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail by the best seamstresses and embroiderers in the world.

Considering the amount of time, money, and skill needed to complete each piece, haute couture garments typically have no price tag.

Many haute fashion houses are in Paris, France. According to Wikipedia, “In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris based in Paris.

The Chambre Syndicale de la haute couture is defined as “the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses”.

More rigorous criteria for haute couture were established in 1945. To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture must follow specific rules:

  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings
  • Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen staff members full-time
  • Have at least twenty full-time technical people in at least one workshop (atelier)
  • Present a collection of at least fifty original designs to the public every fashion season (twice, in January and July of each year), of both day and evening garments.

In the 1960s, a group of young designers left these established couture houses, opened their establishments, and found their lines. The most successful of these young designers were Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges, Ted Lapidus, and Emanuel Ungaro.

Although individualized, custom clothing for elite clientele is still going strong, today’s Haute fashion designs seen on runways are not mainly made to be sold or a leading source of income.

Instead, they are primarily for show and further publicity and perception and understanding of the brand image.

This brand image adds allure to a designer’s prêt-a-porter (ready-to-wear) clothing line and related high-end products such as shoes, purses, and perfumes.


Based on our pool of users, Fashion Designers tend to be predominately artistic people. It has been said that Fashion is one of the purest expressions of art because it is art lived daily.

Becoming a fashion designer involves some natural talent, commitment to education, and dedication to industry networking.