Fashion designers create designs for clothes, accessories and shoes. They may design a wide range of goods or specialise in particular areas.
You could be:
designing a wide variety of items or specialising in one area, such as children’s clothing, sportswear, accessories or wedding dresses
researching next season's trends in fashion, colour and fabric choice
drawing designs by hand and by computer-aided design (CAD) or graphics software such as Illustrator and Photoshop
considering the costs of fabrics and manufacturing for mass production
selecting fabrics and trims to make up samples of clothes
supervising dressmakers who make the samples
producing specification sheets or design packs for manufacturers to follow and making sure designs are produced accurately
presenting designs and samples to clients and in-house departments such as finance and merchandising
designing clothes for individual customers or clothes for sale in large numbers in high street stores.
Pay rates vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for qualified fashion designers in the UK tend to be in the range of £20,000 a year rising to around £30,000 a year with experience. Senior designers can earn around £40,000, with top designers earning over £60,000 a year or more.
Some fashion designers work freelance. They charge a fee, which varies depending on the work and their reputation. The better known they are, the more they can charge. A very few do earn very high incomes.
You would work in a studio or workshop.
You might either work alone or as part of a team of designers.
You might have to travel to meet clients and fabric manufacturers, and to visit trade shows, fashion shows and exhibitions.
You might have to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, when preparing for exhibitions, meetings and deadlines.
You usually need a degree in fashion design or in art and design with an option in fashion. It's also possible to enter with a relevant Higher National Diploma (HND), available at several colleges.
For entry to an HND you need 1-2 Highers or a relevant National Certificate (NC) or National Qualification (NQ). For entry to a degree course you need 4-5 Highers, normally including English and Art and Design.
You also need a good portfolio of designs. It helps to include garments you have made.
If you are very talented and have an exceptionally good portfolio, you might get into college or university without the necessary Highers.
You could start by taking an NC or NQ (formal entry requirements not always needed) or a Higher National Certificate (HNC) (1-2 Highers for entry) in similar subjects. This might get you a job, perhaps as a pattern cutter or design assistant, or lead on to an HND or degree.
Ability to use specialist fashion computer aided design and graphics software is helpful.
Pattern cutting and sewing skills are useful.
Work experience, paid or unpaid, is very useful.
For art school courses you need to apply through UCAS. Some courses have a closing date of 15th January and others have the closing date of 24th March.
Entry to this career is very competitive. Most jobs are in the London area. You may find jobs advertised in the press, particularly the fashion press. There are specialist recruitment agencies which might help you find a job.
Creative and Cultural Skills is the Sector Skills Council for advertising, crafts, cultural heritage, design, music, performing, literary and visual arts.
Creative Choices is their career information website.