Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER PATHS / FEB. 07, 2017
version 8, draft 8

How to Become a Famous Fashion Designer

fashion designers sketching clothes
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Famous fashion designers are respected the world over by both celebrities and ordinary people alike. It makes fashion one of the most exciting industries to work in, but only if your skills can stand out against intense competition. But if you think that you have what it takes to make it, we have the perfect guide help you reach the top of the fashion world.

First lets' look at a list of most famous fashion designers in the world:

  • Coco Chanel - the French born innovator Coco Chanel is as well-known for her contribution to the fashion world as she is for her pearls of wisdom regarding beauty and elegance. The inventor of the oft-referenced lauded “little black dress” she established many staples of haute couture including luxury in simplicity.
  • Giorgio Armani - this Italian designer is famous for his introduction and adaptation of simplified, clean and tailored men’s clothing. An Armani suit has become a symbol of aesthetic refinement, luxury and masculinity.
  • Christian Dior - One of the most frequently referenced and appropriated designers in the history of fashion design, the French designer revolutionised the fashion of the time and still influences contemporary fashion designers and scholars of fashion.
  • Yves Saint Laurent - Known for his adaptation of quintessentially masculine fashions into beautifully feminine and elegant clothing. A substantial contributor to contemporary couture YSL is still a highly sought after and very active fashion house.
  • Betsy Johnson - A member of the newer school of fashion that adopted and appropriated urban fashions including punk, rock and hip-hop aesthetics. Johnson is well known for her colourful playful and very innovative fashion concepts.

1. Research the Role of a Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create original and exclusive clothing, footwear and accessories. They work in manufacturing or wholesale establishments, retailers, theatre companies and other apparel-related businesses. You can work full time for a fashion house as a so-called in-house designer. Freelance where you sell your work to fashion houses. Or even set up your own fashion house.  The work itself, though differing slightly from designer to designer and area to area and involves a largely non-changing collection of tasks, such as:

  • Design products that meet current purchasing preferences
  • Draw and cut specific design ideas
  • Analyse, colours, trends and shapes from different fabrics
  • Find the right material to bring sketches to life
  • Test garments, sew samples and create final pieces
  • Oversee the production of final products
  • Manage quality control
  • Research and monitor current fashion trends
  • Working to a brief as put together by the client the designs are for
  • Analysing trends in the market
  • Providing estimations of costs for materials and production
  • Producing mood and concept boards in-line with current trends in the market
  • Finding and liaising with suppliers
  • Making in-house presentations and pitches

Salary Expectations

Fashion design is an industry which holds the potential to be very lucrative. From modestly paying junior in-house jobs right through to senior consultation roles, all designers more or less have the constant option of seeking freelance opportunities - making it particularly hard to pin down exact figures. According to the National Career Service, pay expectations in the industry at present in the UK are as follows:

Experience Level

Junior - £18,000 - £20,000

Intermediate - £25,000 - £40,000

Senior - £60,000+

2. Obtain the Required Qualifications

There are no formal credentials required for one to become a successful fashion designer. But one thing that can help you build your job prospects and career is a degree in fashion design. An in-depth knowledge about the industry ranks you above others without a degree when applying for a job.

If you want to cut your teeth on something before you graduate high school, you can work at a boutique, or even a tailor. These types of professions or internships will allow you to experience and acquire knowledge, both practical and regarding the business in fashion. Combining early experience and a university degree will give you an edge in a very competitive industry. If you are unsure which university to study at here are some of the best in the world (which are also conveniently located in the most famous fashion hubs across the globe).

Useful Skills for Fashion Designers to Have:

Creativity: The one quality you cannot do without in fashion design is creativity. You require a lot of detailing and the ability to turn raw material into beautiful clothing and accessories.

An eye for detail: Most designers can come up with basic designs, but it takes an eye for detail to produce an outstanding piece of costume or cloth. As a fashion designer, therefore, you will have to give detailing a lot of importance.

Good understanding of fabrics and colour: The ability to analyse and understand your raw materials go a long way in making your designs outstanding. For instance, some designs look better on certain fabrics but can be disastrous on others. You will also need to know how fabrics react, drape, move and breathe when worn.

3. Career Prospects

If you work in a fashion house, you will generally progress from a junior designer to an in-house designer, then a senior designer and finally department head. Career development will typically depend on the specific area of design you specialise in, work experience you have built up and your professional reputation. Another key factor will be the type of company you work for and the opportunities for career development within it.

If you choose to pursue a career as a famous fashion designer, then this is primarily based on reputation, networking and exposure of both your brand and you as a designer. It is an amazingly demanding and competitive side of the fashion market, with a high rate of failure.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in fashion design, a student or already an established professional tell us a little about your experience in the comment section below!

This article was first published in September 2014.

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