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Fashion Designer Job Profile

July 18, 2024 - July 18, 2024   

Find out the typical duties,requirements and opportunities of a fashion designer…

Fashion designers work on the design of clothing. Some may focus completely on a specialist area, such as sportswear, childrenswear or accessories. 

Job Description

The main markets they design for are haute couture, designer ready-to-wear and high street fashion. Developments in technology mean that a designer ready-to-wear product can be produced as a high street version in just a few weeks.

Depending on level of responsibility and the company, a designer may work to their own brief or be given a brief to work towards (including specifications in relation to colour and fabric) and develop a product from this.

Typical Work Activities

The main areas of work for fashion designers are: 

  • High street fashion, where the majority of designers work and where garments are manufactured in their thousands. Influences play a key role in this design process and the turnaround of ’young fashion’ in particular can be quite rapid.
  • Ready-to-wear. Many designers will also produce ready-to-wear collections, although these are produced in relatively small numbers.
  • Haute couture. This requires large amounts of time working on the production of individual garments.

Tasks depend on the market the designer is producing for, but core responsibilities include:

  • Creating/visualising an idea and making a sketch by hand or using computer aided design (CAD);
  • Analysing trends in fabrics, colours and shapes;
  • Keeping up to date with emerging fashion trends;
  • Planning and developing ranges;
  • Working with others in the design team, such as buyers and forecasters, to develop a product to meet the brief;
  • Liaising closely with sales, buying and production teams to ensure the item complements other products;
  • Developing a pattern that is then cut and sewn into sample garments;
  • Sourcing, selecting and buying fabrics;
  • Adapting existing designs for mass production;
  • Supervising the making up of sample garments;
  • Overseeing production;
  • Negotiating with customers and suppliers;
  • Managing marketing, finances and other business activities if working on a self-employed basis.

Experienced designers with larger companies may focus more on the design aspect, with pattern cutters and machinists preparing sample garments. In smaller companies these, and other tasks, may be part of the designer’s role.

Salary and Conditions

  • Range of typical starting salaries: £16,000 – £23,000 for London-based roles (salary data collected June 07). Range of typical starting salaries outside London: £12,000 – £14,000 although entry jobs are rare outside London.
  • A good junior designer can expect to earn between £30,000 – £40,000 within three to four years (salary data collected June 07).
  • Salaries vary depending on geographical location and type of employer.
  • Range of typical salaries at senior level, such as head designer: £40,000 – £60,000 (salary data collected June 07).
  • Working hours typically include regular extra hours, but not usually weekend or shift work.
  • The working environment varies between companies and can range from a Victorian-style factory, to a modern purpose-built office or a small, smart design studio. Freelance designers may work from home or in rented studio areas.
  • With the increase in online retailing, setting up in business or being self-employed is becoming more common – even straight after graduation. Although this is a long-term option, (particularly for those seeking flexible hours) extensive market research, business training and resilience is critical for any fashion business to succeed.
  • The gender ratio is approximately 25%:75% male to female. More men have designer collections in high fashion but senior designers elsewhere in the industry are usually women.
  • The majority of opportunities are available in London and the South East, although there are vacancies in the Midlands and some large towns and cities in the North West and Scotland.
  • The pressure of deadlines and working antisocial hours to meet these can intrude on private life.
  • Career success relies on a combination of creativity, perseverance and resilience.
  • Travel within the working day, absence from home at night and overseas work is occasional. There is scope for travel abroad, for example to attend trade shows or to meet suppliers.

Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree in the following subjects will increase your chances:

Entry requirements

Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree in the following subjects will increase your chances

  • Fashion;
  • Textiles;
  • Knitwear;
  • Art and design;
  • Graphic design;
  • Clothing technology.

Foundation degree graduates face increased competition from BA graduates.

Although sometimes possible, entry without a degree is increasingly unlikely and you would need to be able to prove that you have already gained expertise and experience in the industry. Graduates from non-fashion/textile-related courses would also need to gain experience in the industry to demonstrate they have a real passion and aptitude for fashion design.

A pre-entry postgraduate qu

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