Tips for a Career in Fashion Design

Kangan Institute Blog

From catwalks to magazines, the flawlessly designed clothing that is released every season inspires many wannabe designers. Behind all the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry, is a façade that hides all the blood, sweat and tears that we don’t get to see. But this is the best part. All of the hard work that goes into producing these designs is what make it an all-the-more rewarding experience.

So if you’re an aspiring fashion designer who is willing to put in the hard yards to achieve their dream, here are some tips to help you on your way.

Be ready to work hard
When you start out, you will be at the bottom of the food chain and no one is going to pay any attention to you regardless of how talented you are. What will get you noticed is simple: hard work.

At this stage, it’s important for you to face your tasks with a good-natured attitude, and not take anything too personally. You mightn’t be able to start doing what you want to do yet, but you need to realise that the value of your experience comes from the opportunity to see the business from every aspect. You will be asked to do tasks that may seem menial, but there is a reason that your role exists. You’re there to enable things to run smoothly. Whether that requires you to deliver papers, or buy coffees, your contribution does make a difference.

As with any job, make sure you are organised. Be early for your appointments and be prepared for any tasks that you will need to undertake. Liaise with the right people, and build relationships. You are very fortunate to have scored a position at this company, so be grateful and don’t complain. Take advantage of this opportunity, and remember to take any negative feelings with a grain of salt. Your hard work will eventually be noticed.


Photo by Tobias Kankelborg, 2011 (Flickr)

Study the industry and understand technique
Your passion for fashion needs to have a backbone. Although a lot of your learning can and will be done on the job, you definitely have to understand the basic process of the fashion industry. This includes everything from the basics of sketching and sewing, to an understanding of business structure.

First and foremost is to be interested in the fashion industry, past and present. Create an understanding of the concepts of particular pieces and what the driving forces are behind different trends. Take note of different ranges and colours. You can keep up with current movements by reading magazines and blogs. Improving your sense of fashion will help you to develop a keen eye for your own designs.

Being able to design relies heavily on your drawing and sewing skills. This requires you to have a knack for sketching, and moves on to having a good understanding of all the components of dressmaking. Between understanding the benefits and drawbacks of different types of fabrics, to reading patterns, to working your way around sewing machine, these are very necessary skills to have.

Finally, in the fashion industry, it is very useful for you to have some business sense. It will allow you to adequately set up business operations, and keep the company going in a good direction. Furthermore, this helps you to figure out the type of market that you’re looking to design clothing for.


Photo by Melinda, 2011 (Flickr)

Give yourself direction
Figure out where you want your fashion career to lead to, and form a plan for how you can get there. Whether your dreams are to open a boutique, or to have your designs paraded on a catwalk, you will need a game plan. Most importantly, you have to build your own foundations. Getting as much experience as possible is the first thing. This helps you to build contacts, and increase your knowledge of all the fundamental aspects of how the company runs.

Before you even consider work, you need to make sure that you know what you’re doing. Regardless of if you have a natural gift for design or you loved fashion since you were 5, it would definitely be worthwhile for you to get a qualification. This will ensure that you have developed all of the basic skills that you need, and it will show potential employers that your capabilities are of a high standard.

In order to make it into your all-important first job in the fashion industry, you need to be able to prove your worth. This isn’t the kind of job that you can charm your way into. Taking a course in fashion design will give you the opportunity to build a portfolio of designs. This is important because your portfolio allows potential employers to directly see everything that you are capable of, and the type of designer that you are.


Photo by Chris , 2010 (Flickr)

Be driven and stay passionate
At every stage of the process, you’re going to run into obstacles. You may be criticised for your work, or struggle to make deadlines. The important thing is to remain resilient. The fashion industry is notoriously competitive, so you need to make sure that you’re willing to put in the long hours and to keep trying. Don’t expect anyone to take you seriously until you’ve shown that you can handle the workload.

The trick is to keep your passion in every aspect of your work. Believe in what you love most about fashion, and never let it stop inspiring you.

To make it in fashion, you have to be proactive. Make sure that you have everything it takes, and if you don’t, learn it. There are plenty of ways that you can build your knowledge, and expand your capabilities. The only catch is that you have to be driven and hardworking. From there, you’ll be able to achieve your fashion dreams.

If you’re interested in starting a career in fashion, make sure you’re qualified. Check out Kangan’s variety of fashion certifications, which range from design to clothing production.