Fashion designers are responsible for creating the clothing, footwear, and accessories purchased by the billions on a yearly basis by consumers. Some fashion designers specialize in clothing design (men's, women's, and children's apparel). Others concentrate on footwear (shoes and boots). A third variety of fashion designer specializes in accessory design (handbags, belts, scarves, hats, hosiery, etc). Some fashion designers dabble in all three of these fashion categories. A fashion designer will always remain up-to-date by continuously studying fashion trends. He/she will begin the design process by sketching designs and will later begin to select colors and fabrics. The designer will then oversee the evolution of the original designs into the form of new clothes and accessories. The entire process cycle will typically take between 18 and 24 months.
Education, Certification, Licensing
A degree is extremely useful in this profession. Bachelors and associate degree programs in fashion design are offered at many colleges, universities, and private art and design schools. At a minimum a student should plan on spending two years in any fashion design program. As an added measure to succeed in the field, an aspiring designer should supplement a fashion design degree with a business, marketing, or fashion merchandising degree. An understanding of the business end of the fashion industry is extremely important, and strong sales and presentation skills are valuable assets in forging a successful career.
Most of the over 200 schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability as a criteria for admission. Therefore, industry experience is very important in this profession, regardless of whether it is acquired before, during, or after pursuing a formal education program. Early volunteer work, like costuming, can help a person get started. An internship with a design or manufacturing firm or a first job as a pattern maker or sketching assistant for more experienced designers will be well worth it in the long run. Also worthwhile would be a job working in a retail store or as a custom tailor.