Usually when one hears fashion designers spoken of, one thinks of fame, money and working with famous and beautiful people. A picture of a luxurious style of living, filled with parties, fashion shows and magazine interviews paints in one’s head. Names such as Armani, Versace and Dior are thought of right away. Although some fashion designers do live like that, for most part a career in fashion design is sometimes not as glamorous as it may seem. The fashion industry is a very difficult industry for one to succeed in because there is a lot of competition and not a lot of demand. To make it big in this field one has to have a lot of talent, patience, drive, courage and the ability to work very hard. Fashion design is not for everyone because it takes a lot of time and nerves to succeed. This career can have one work until sunrise to finish designs and meet deadlines. A career in fashion design can also be risky because often it does not provide a stable income. To people who really enjoy this type of work though, it would not make a difference because they would be doing what they truly love to do. Therefore, although being a fashion designer could bring one much frustration, stress, long working hours and an irregular salary, it could also bring a lot of money and fame, give one a sense of pride, a way to express creativity, and an opportunity to make people look and feel good.
A fashion designer has to go through many, sometimes stressful and long stages before the clothing is made. “The designers often begin by researching the desired design characteristics, such as size, shape, weight, color, materials used, cost, ease of use, fit and safety.”(Designers 1) Sometimes there can be a great difference between what is considered stylish and what the people actually buy. In order to research the fashion designer would often flip through fashion magazines, sometimes even at home, when sipping coffee, and would attend many fashion shows. By attending fashion shows he or she will know what kinds or fashions are made by other designers. After the designer has completed the research process, the next step would be predicting what the trend will be in about six months to a year. This needs to be known because usually designers work on their collections six months to a year in advance. For example, in the fall of 2002 the designer would work on the spring/summer 2003 collection and in the winter and spring of 2003 he or she would work on the fall 2003 collection. After predicting the next trend however, the designer then makes original sketches and if he or she works for a company shows the sketches to the owners to make sure that they suit the company’s style and image. “After the design is approved, it is made out of muslin. Darts and seams are put into the muslin garment as it is molded on a model or a dressmaker’s dummy.”(Dress Design 4) At this time, it could be decided that some designs are not possible to recreate in real life and that the garments from these designs should not be created. Additionally, this is the time for the designer to make any necessary changes before the samples can be made out of the fabric that they were intended to be made out of. When the sample garments are finally made, they are put in a fashion show that is attended by possible retail buyers or individual clients. If the designer works for a department store though, the garments can be reproduced to sell right away. Also, the samples can be photographed and put in a catalog and be made only with order. All of it depends on where and by whom the designer is employed.
Having a career in fashion design also, requires many certain qualities and skills. Being creative, sensitive to beauty, confident, driven, hard-working, passionate and cooperative is required in this field. Without these qualities one cannot be a successful fashion designer. To be successful a person must posses a lot of creativity and style. The designer must not be afraid to go beyond what is expected and to know how to make color and balance work together. Confidence and drive are equally necessary because usually it takes fashion designers years to get noticed and to get established. In this industry “ competition is stiff and success is always hard won.”(Career as a Fashion Designer 3) The ideas of the designers are often rejected which makes it really important for them to believe in themselves and be determined to succeed. Being passionate about their job and being a hard worker are two other very important traits. Fashion designers must love their job and be willing to stay up all night finishing their projects because often they will have to do just that. “Given the hardships, designers have to be crazy about what they do. How else would they be able to survive the grueling hours, low entry-level pay, and lack of guarantees?”(Han 2) Being cooperative is also necessary, as the designers get to work with many different people and must be able to be team – players. In addition, fashion designers must have the following skills: active learning skills, operations analysis skills, active listening skills, critical thinking skills and systems evaluation skills. Without these skills, it would be very difficult for one to survive in the fashion industry.
To become a fashion designer it is good if one starts to explore this profession early in life to determine whether it is right for him or her. Taking art classes at school and an enrolment in a design program would be great for one who considers a career in the fashion field. The person who wants to become a designer should study drawing, sketching, designing, fabric and textile sciences. He or she should also complete a two to four year designing program later on and get a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a major in fashion design.
After completing the education process the designer can start working. Although there are not too many jobs in this field, the demand keeps growing each year.
“During 1997, there were approximately 23,867 fashion designers employed in New York. We estimate that in 2007 there will be 28, 936 designers employed in New York. This represents an increase of 507 new positions each year (2.12%). Additionally, 3,886 jobs per year (16.28%) will become available due to employee turnover.”(Fashion Designers 4)
Because he or she would be just starting work in this field, the salary of a fashion designer would not be too high also. An average starting salary would be between 13,500 and 20,000 dollars. At the median level the salary would be between 20,000 to 50,000 dollars and between 60,000 and 75,000 dollars if a designer is exceptionally skilled or has a lot of experience. Sometimes however, depending on where the designer works, there might not even be a salary because the designer could be paid by assignment. That happens to many designers who have their own businesses. Others, who work for big companies such as Gap and Express get a regular, stable salary. Aside from money, when just starting out in the fashion industry it would be wise for one to work with an established designer to get a taste of what this profession is like. The starting designer could learn a lot from the established one and get experience at the same time.
What would working as a fashion designer be like? Depending on where the designer works the working conditions for a fashion can change from person to person. If one works at a big company, he or she most likely enjoys regular working hours. The designer also has to work long hours sometimes to meet special deadlines and work with many other people. ‘”I may work 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. a few weeks to a few months each season,” says an insider.’(Han 2) When in such a situation, the designer must have the created designs approved his bosses. Sometimes, the designers must be required to travel to different locations. If the designer is self-employed, he or she has to do everything for the business. Self-employed designers usually do not work with a lot of people, mostly their family or some other helpers. These designers work extra long hours while they establish their businesses and often enjoy an irregular and small salary. The top-of-the industry designers who have a lot of individual clients, on the other hand, receive a lot of money. They get to work with many famous people, including singers and actors and travel to alluring destinations all over the globe.
In the end, being a fashion designer is a serious commitment that has its own positive and negative sides. Fashion design can: be very competitive and stressful, require many personal characteristics, different skills and hard work. However, it can also take one to alluring destinations all over the world, bring fame and establish wealth. One of the other positives of fashion design can be no need of a long education. In the end, one must decide, based on values and knowledge, whether he or she has what it takes to be a fashion designer.
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