Does the thought of becoming a professional fashion designer excite you? Do you picture yourself at runway shows in New York and Paris? Do you love talking about all the latest fashion trends and ideas? Well, it sounds like you have a PASSION for fashion, which is a definite plus! Maybe you are a freelance fashion designer now, and want to make the step up.
However, fashion design is no cakewalk! It’s a very competitive field that requires working hard, paying your dues and climbing the proverbial ladder. So where do you begin? Well, we’re here to help you figure this out!
Step 1: Learn the Basics
The first thing you need to do is start asking questions — lots of them! You need to learn everything you can about fashion and fashion designing. Below are some sample questions to get you started:
- Why do people buy fashion apparel?
- Where are the world’s leading fashion centers?
- Who are the top people in the fashion industry?
- What are the major categories of fashion?
- What are the fashion seasons?
- What all does a fashion designer do?
Obviously, you will have to do the hard work of answering these questions yourself. However, that’s part of what it takes to become a fashion designer — the willingness to conduct thorough research and learn everything there is to know about this career choice.
Step 2: Get An Education
Here’s a simple truth — it is fundamental that you receive formal education if you want a genuine career in fashion. The fashion world is highly competitive, so you need to be equipped with as many resources and tools as possible, and education happens to be the very best thing you can have going for you.
The most commonly pursued degree is one in art or design. Some aspiring designers combine this with either another degree or a minor in business, marketing, etc. The type of coursework you want to pursue is listed below:
- Colours and textiles.
- Sewing and tailoring.
- Pattern making.
- Fashion history.
- Computer-aided design (CAD).
- Economics, business, and marketing.
Step 3: Seek Out An Internship
An internship is absolutely pivotal for success. It is a fundamental stepping-stone that can greatly alter your long-term success in the field. For one, internships allow you to gain valuable real-life experience, as book knowledge can only take you so far! Internships also let you start building a reputation and portfolio. Plus, and more importantly, internships very often lead to full-time positions!
Suppose though that you land an internship that doesn’t lead to a job after you graduate. The internship would still be valuable. Why? During the internship, you’re likely to meet other potential employers — people who you could reach out to once you graduate!
If you have a particular design niche, you can contact them. For example, if the urban style is your thing, try to find a streetwear manufacturer to see if they want to work with you.
Step 4: Build Your Portfolio
A portfolio is a must for anybody in any art-oriented career. As an aspiring fashion designer, you’ll need to have a decent portfolio by the time you graduate. The best way to do this is to approach every single schoolroom assignment you get as a real-life job. Put your best into every assignment, because the assignment itself (or what you produce) could very well be placed in your portfolio, assuming you do a good job.
Step 5: Get Your First Job
You finally graduated. Congratulations! Now it’s time to land your first job as a fashion designer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to jump from an internship directly into a job, but this isn’t always the case. Also keep in mind that you’re not going to start out with a top tier job. You’re going to be performing entry-level fashion design. It might be tedious and tiresome, but everybody must pay their dues!
Step 6: Learn the Business
The first few years on the job are very important: they provide you with the opportunity you need to learn the business. The thing to realize is that this requires doing more than just going to work everyday. You’re going to have to take the extra time to start reading fashion magazines, following fashion blogs and familiarizing yourself with what’s currently trending in the market.
You might also want to consider doing some independent work in your free time. You can contact local businesses. Or you can sell your fashion wear directly through the internet using websites like Etsy or even Amazon.
Step 7: Decide How To Proceed
Eventually, you’re going to have to make a big decision: do you want to keep working for companies and slowly but surely rise up the chain, or do you want to break away from this world and establish yourself as a full-fledged, self-employed professional fashion designer?
This is not a decision to be taken lightly, as going independent is not easy! In fact, it usually comes with an immediate pay cut. However, the potential — especially if you are a talented, hard-working person — is incredible. Imagine creating your own brand! Now imagine your brand of clothes one day being featured in clothing outlets across the country and world! All of this is possible, assuming you’re willing to work for it!
Step 8: Start Your Business
So we’re going to assume you chose to go the independent route. What happens now? It depends. You can start or continue selling products on the Internet, or you can start creating your own genuine business. We recommend going for the latter option, because it’s more sustainable, as well as more conductive to long-term success. To do this, you’ll need to do some of the following:
- Develop a legitimate business plan.
- Seek financing.
- Get proper licenses.
- Create a brand name.
- Find wholesale fashion equipment suppliers.
- Build relationships with manufacturers.
It’s not easy, and it will take time, but you can one day build yourself a thriving fashion business. The only question is this — are YOU up to the challenge?