Fashion is a global business that is both stimulating and challenging. It comprises design, textiles, trends, technology, marketing and retail. Throughout the world, fashion designers influence the way people look, from luxury clothing and accessories to everyday apparel found on the high street.
There are a number of routes to becoming a fashion designer. Vera Wang began her career as a fashion editor. However, designing her own wedding dress was the impetus to opening a bridal shop and the subsequent launch of her own collection. Alexander McQueen made dresses for his sisters before becoming an apprentice for a tailor in Saville Row.
Nowadays, the best foundation for a career in design is to undertake a course in fashion.
After A levels, foundation courses in Art and Design, Textiles or Fashion provide a good grounding in the major areas of the industry before applying for a degree course.
There are over 300 degree courses in fashion in the UK. Degree titles range from Fashion Buying and Merchandising to Fashion Design Management, with a myriad others in between.
On most courses you can expect to cover such areas as sketching and illustration, pattern cutting, sourcing and sampling, construction and textiles. You will develop technical skills needed to work with different materials. An understanding of technology will allow you to appreciate how your designs will be made, and knowledge of designing software such as CAD programs are essential.
Most degree courses last for three years and many organise a placement in the fashion industry between the second and third years. This will provide invaluable work experience and is an opportunity to start building up contacts.
As design courses are practical in nature, students get plenty of opportunities to take part in competitions and fashion shows. It is important to keep a record of your best sketches and designs and develop a portfolio. Employers look for someone who is innovative and with a keen eye for detail. A creative portfolio can provide evidence of these qualities.
Whether your ultimate aim is to work for a mass-market clothing manufacturer or for a top fashion house such as Dior, you will probably start your career as a design assistant.
Typical duties include sourcing and chasing samples and making up sample cards. With experience will come the opportunity to suggest design ideas and make up mood boards. Eventually, you could end up assisting with the development of a range.
The world of fashion designing is very competitive. However, with creativity, hard work, and a passion for clothes, there is no limit to what you can achieve.
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