The natural order of things has been for talented fashion designers to be swooped by brands. Most designers would have coveted roles under the wings of some of the top designers in the world. The worldwide web has since made us an authentic global village. That has presented freelance fashion designers from all over the world a platform to showcase their talent.
Where previous generations of designers would have had to migrate to London, New York, Milan or Paris in pursuit of their dream, the current generation can do it from wherever they are. This is not to minimise the role that is still played by these fashion capitals. There is only so much that can be done remotely, and these are a hub of design philosophy.
How much do freelance fashion designers make?
There are two ways to consider this. The easy access to designers that the web has given us means that there is more competition. You will often find that it leads to the proverbial race to the bottom. Designers start to undercut one another in attempts to land clients. In the end, everyone loses. The winning designer will end up being in an underpaid and overworked position.
That is a struggle primarily reserved for those that are still to make their mark. While researching for this article, I found that the bulk of freelance fashion designer jobs advertised at a starting salary of between $36 000 and $89 000 depending on credentials and experience.
There is no limit to how much one can earn as their name becomes synonymous with quality. It is commerce after all; supply and demand. The more demand there is for a freelance fashion designer’s services, the higher the reward.
What does a freelance fashion designer do?
Perhaps we have gone ahead of ourselves a little. Let’s make sure that we are on the same page. What is a freelance fashion designer? As the name suggests, this is a person that provides their designing services to those within the fashion industry, working directly with fashion brands or clothing manufacturers. A freelancer can specialise in a type of design that they would become sought after for. It can be in surface pattern design, Aztec designs, African fabric, leather and so on.
How to become a freelance fashion designer
There are various paths that one can take to become a freelance fashion designer. Here are some things that you must consider:
- Work on your craft.
- Expand your circle.
- Build a portfolio.
- Learn from the greats.
- Find your own path.
- Foster collaboration.
Work on your craft
This is a step that is often taken for granted. The theory is that it takes 10000 hours to master something. It requires a lot of patience and passion. If fashion is dear to you, that should not be a problem.
Build a portfolio
Most people that will hire you will want to see what you have done. Not many people are looking to take a chance without seeing some evidence of your skills. That is why you must invest time and effort into building the very best portfolio possible. It has to be one that you can be proud of.
The only question to ask yourself is, “Would I be proud to show this to the best designers around?” If not, you can keep improving it until you are happy with it.
Once you have a portfolio ready, make use of the internet to get it out there. Platforms such as Instagram are great for this. Connect with other freelance fashion designers. Interact with the content that they share. They will usually do the same for you. Having your own website would also help. It gives you more room to make it look and feel the way that you think best represents your brand.
Expand your circle
Having a good portfolio is excellent, but it is not always enough. Sometimes having the right people to vouch for you or to point you in the right direction simply is what gets you where you want to go. The easiest way to expand your circle is to attend events and fundraisers within the industry. You are not going there with the express aim of selling anything. Just mingle and exchange contact details.
Learn from the greats
A common theme among successful designers is that they took an internship at one point or another. Being under the wings of an experienced designer gives you a vantage point to learn from them. You get to see the processes and techniques that they use daily. It is also an opportunity to learn the business side of things. If you do well on this internship, you will have a powerful ally for life.
Find your own path
The industry does not need a Coco Chanel or Versace replica. There is only room for one of those. Your unique take is what sells. Find it. That is what will make clients call you instead of other freelance designers.
There is not enough said about the power of collaboration. Whatever audience you have built will expand in ways that you cannot imagine through collaborating with other designers. Let’s borrow an example from the world of music. There are Linkin Park fans that would have never listened to Jay Z. That is until he collaborated with a band that they liked. The same is true for Jay Z fans who discovered Linkin Park the collaboration. It was lucrative for both sides.
The best way to seek collaboration is to find crossovers. What are some things that your audience appreciate about other artists? Another way to collaborate is to discover influencers that would appreciate your craft. You can provide them with some of your designers in exchange for publicity.
How do I learn fashion designing from home?
The internet has a wide range of resources for learning fashion designing. There are Youtube channels dedicated to this. You can also find a wide range of courses that you can take part in entirely online. Google is the best place to start.
One Last Thing
It takes some tenacity to make it in the industry. The beauty of it is that there is freedom at the end of it. You get to make a living doing something that you love. The rest of us get to see your exceptional talent.