Every year millions of young people, inspired by the next Project Runway, dream of becoming a fashion designer, get a glamorous (at the first sight) career and work with top companies showcasing during Fashion Weeks around the world. But what it takes to be a fashion designer in today’s fast pacing world?
In order to open the door to this competitive industry, what first comes to mind is to get a professional education through a degree program. Previously, students interested in the fashion design, took courses in the history of fashion, apparel, accessories and textile design, figure drawing and pattern making as well as in fashion marketing and merchandising, retail management, product development and sales promotion. But is it really necessary in 2019 to get a formal education in this industry to become a fashion designer? Opinions may vary. In the age of digital fashion and ubiquitous social media it seems to be more important to present your work to the public, instead of having your diploma hanging on the wall.
While you may be talented without formal education, to be a successful fashion designer, you have to have a critical and curious mind. You have to research history of fashion and costume, you need to understand what fashion designers and couturiers have done before. To be unique and original is highly important nowadays. No one needs to have another little black dress designed in 2019.
Together with studying the history and fashion basics, modern designer has to understand trends: how they emerge, develop and transfer from one to another. Contemporary couturiers manage a huge amount of information every day. But don’t stick around books and trend forecasts, look around, notice every little thing that surrounds you, be inspired. It’s your inspiration people will be paying for.
Combination of hard and soft skills are the key to success for today’s designers. Fashion drawing and sketching is essential. Every designer need to be able to represent their visual idea. But with technological changes on the horizon of fashion, it’s principal that designers are familiar with computer aided design (CAD) programs, which allow to transform sketches into final fashion products. CAD designs are also highly accepted by the manufacturers and fashion production companies. Business skills are vital for commercial success of the company. Time management, communication and leadership, self-confidence and acceptance of criticism are the skills required for the efficiency of a fashion designer. Today, it’s not enough just to draw a cute dress.
As a fashion designer you have to wear a lot of hats. You have to be a creator as well as business oriented person. Designers do visit trade shows and explore competitors and emerging brands. Virtual world is a big part of today’s fashion. You don’t have to travel to Beijing to understand what’s on trend in China right now. On-line platforms make every fashion product global. You may work for a LVMH owned company or at your own garage, your clothes can be advertised worldwide and sold trough international fashion stages. At the same time, virtual world can give you a significant feedback on your product: what people like and dislike about your merchandise, why they don’t like some features and how to improve qualities of the product. Feedback is a necessity for the fashion brand. As soon as you define your missteps, you are ready to make amendments, which allow you to minimize profit loses. The faster you are, the more you earn.
E-commerce, on-line fashion stores and fashion mobile apps are the new runway for your creations. Independent fashion designers do not have to spend big sums of money to showcase their collections. With good communication and negotiations skills, you have the ability to contact buyers from around the web and on-line stores. Place your merchandise in time and the on-line page becomes your runway. Using photo and video displays, detailed description of quality and technical features of the product allow customers to study it carefully before buying, see the variation of the presented merchandise and reduce the amounts of returns. Still, as a fashion designer you have to choose cautiously the platform you want to be presented at. Make the wrong choice and you won’t be able to change the segment and appearance of your brand at a global scale.
Last, but not the least. It has to be mentioned that today’s customer is much more interested in originality, individuality and self-identity. Research shows that the quantity of mass-market clothes led to repudiation of its appeal. Small fashion designer studios and corner shops are much more favoured nowadays. Customers tend to pay more for a unique design, that has history, idea and brings a message to a society and world.