A fashion designer is the person who comes up with the newest fashion trends and styles that people will base their wardrobe around. They have a keen sense of style and know how to mix and match colors to produce attractive outfits. They are sometimes hired by clothing companies to produce new lines of clothing for their customers; though, many are also self-employed and work with individual clients on projects.
The major hubs for a fashion designer career are located in New York and California; however, some designers find success in working with smaller companies throughout the US. Fashion designers working with larger companies are often expected to travel often, as it is often necessary to meet with clients, suppliers, and manufacturers who are located in different areas. Traveling is also necessary in order to attend trade and fashion shows around the US and the world.
Designers are expected to study and be extremely familiar with fashion trends and emergent styles. They sketch the designs for their own clothing ideas and use them to make the final product. The entire design process can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months starting with the initial concept to the final outfit.
The first step in creating a new design is researching the current fashion trends. This includes learning what styles, colors, and fabrics are popular and what will be popular in the future. The designer can then use this information to generate ideas about new clothing ideas. Some will sketch their designs by hand, while others use computer programs to assist in the process. The design software is helpful because it makes it easier to scale body proportions, experiment with different colors, and edit previous design ideas.
Once the design is finished, a prototype can be made. The prototype of the design is made from cheaper materials and supplies so that the designer can make any adjustments that might be necessary. Depending on the nature of project and the size of the design firm he/she works for, the designer may create the prototype him/herself or oversee the construction. After the necessary adjustments are made to the prototype, a final working design can be created using the actual materials. The designer can then sell the design to clothing retailers and/or model them in fashion shows.
Designers hired by manufacturers, wholesale companies, and design firms will generally have a fixed schedule and a steady income. They often work with a number of others within the company including tailors, sewers, and patternmakers, as well as outside manufacturers, materials suppliers, and clients. Freelance designers work by contract or by the job. This often demands for more flexibility in scheduling in order to meet the needs of each client.
The demand for fashion designers is not expected to fluctuate significantly in the future; however, many more are training for positions in the industry. As a result, the competition for a high-level fashion designer career will increase significantly. The most job opportunities are expected to arise in design firms geared toward mass-market fashions.