Fashion Design As a Career – The Truth That No One Told You

So you’ve decided that you want a career in fashion, and maybe you’re even about to enter the real world with your portfolio full of stunning fashion illustrations and a head full of hopes. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that glamorous perception of the design industry is a myth, and that vision of yourself as a famous fashion designer with your own clothing line is almost close to impossible to reach. The actual chances of that are probably the same as becoming a movie star. It doesn’t mean that you won’t become a successful fashion designer working for a company- it means that your chances of becoming the type of designer you envision yourself as are quite slim. Not only do you have to compete with the already established professional fashion designers, but nowadays throw pop singers, celebrities, and TV stars into the mix. There is a better chance that you’ll end up working for an established designer collection or as a designer for the next big celebrity’s clothing line.

If this sounds like old news to you, then congratulations – you’re a step ahead of the game because you already know what you’re getting into. If what I just said comes as a total surprise, take a moment to let reality sink in – and then keep reading. In either case, we want to give you the info you need to know to prepare yourself for some of the challenges that lie ahead…

In school most of your time was spent learning fashion illustration, draping, sewing, and patternmaking. While these are certainly good skills to have, they aren’t very practical when you’re trying to land your first job in the fashion industry. In the real world you’ll be expected to know how to sketch flats, create garment specs, CADs, and presentation boards.

Knowing popular computer applications for creating flats and CADs is extremely important. Most companies expect proficiency in Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel. Many companies also request knowledge of WebPDM. Many fashion school grads believe they know these programs well. But schools don’t teach computerized flats or the software used to create them well enough for entry-level designers to be competent within the industry.

Whether you’re applying to different fashion schools, already in school, about to graduate, or already have your first job in the industry, it’s important to have an idea of where you ultimately want to end up. You might think that as a fashion designer; you’ll have the opportunity to work with all types of clothing, but you should be aware that there are different categories and specializations within the fashion industry. Have you thought about which fashion market you want to end up in? What specialization? Developing a plan of action will increase your chances of reaching your goals.

When creating their first fashion portfolios, many design students and entry-level fashion designers make the mistake of filling them with all of their favorite fashion illustrations. But companies don’t need to see tons of imaginative avant-garde sketches – they just don’t sell! Following an organized portfolio format is a better approach to get your ideas across and show off all of your talents and skills, while demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of what companies expect from you.

You’ll also need to create a well organized, intelligent resume to get yourself through the door. If you don’t look good on paper, recruiters won’t give you a second glance. Not only do your skills and qualifications have to impress, but you need to make sure they stand out amongst the hundreds, or thousands of other applicants for the same position.

Employers know that entry-level candidates will require a lot of training to fill in those education gaps. However, they do look for a candidate that won’t be difficult to train, or take up too much training time. Someone who learns quickly and is willing to go the extra mile is a worthwhile candidate for the employer to hire. Express your interest in the company, and your flexibility and eagerness to learn and develop within the field. To really impress, make sure your have researched the market and are familiar with common industry terms so you won’t get caught off guard when they are mentioned in the interview.

Despite what I said earlier, I’m sure there are still some of you who are determined to become your own designer; create your own label, design your own fashion line, runway show and all. We commend your ambitiousness and of course, we are here to help! With our advice and observations, we want to provide you with our suggested approach to make it happen. Educating yourself, knowing the business, designing for a cause you love, and promoting yourself through new avenues are all steps towards becoming the designer you’ve always envisioned!

Keep in mind that the above issues are topics that deserve serious individual attention. In our upcoming articles, we’ll discuss each topic further, giving you insider tips and insight so you can sidestep the pitfalls of the industry, giving you that much-needed competitive edge and increasing your chances of getting where you want to go within the industry. Basically, we want to prepare you as much as possible, so take it from designers who have been in your shoes, and soak it up!

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Becoming a Fashion Designer – Part II

Before you venture into the fashion biz, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with industry terms and fashion seasons.

Here are some fashion terms you may find useful in planning your fashion career:

Haute Couture: This fashion term is French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” and refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted fashions. While the term is very loosely used, it’s actually a “protected name” in France, so it can only be officially used by designers that meet certain well-defined standards.

Lookbook: A lookbook is used by designers and retailers to show the range of a collection. You can use these to send to buyers, editors, journalists or on your website for the viewing public.

Off-the-rack: This refers to apparel made in standard sizes and available from in-stock merchandise. Also referred to as “ready-made” and “ready-to-wear”.

Fashion Seasons

Just as the weather changes, so do fashion seasons. We’ve all walked into a store in early March and seen summer tops and wondered what they hey? The reason is that the fashion seasons change before the grass turns green or the first snow falls. Knowing the fashion seasons is critical if you’re going to become a fashion designer. You’ll also want to work with a fashion forecaster to predict the trends, so that when you present your collections to buyers-or to the public directly-they’ll buy it!

Trend forecasts are based on the fashion seasons, taking into account color and fabric variations for different times of year. For example, earth tones are generally more popular in the fall, jeweled colors for the holidays, pastels and floral prints for spring and white and bright colors for summer. Of course, there are always surprises! But for the most part, designers and manufacturers include some of these standard colors in there collection planning.

If you’re working on your first line, plan to work six months before any given selling season. Successful designers produce four or five seasonal lines a year. Targeting delivery a month ahead gives consumers a continual supply of fresh merchandise each season.

Fall markets take place between February and April. The fall selling season is the biggest season of the year, so it lasts longer than the other seasons, which usually only last two months with some overlapping. “Fall II” starts in mid-April and goes through mid-June.

Holiday is June-July; with the occasional show in August.

Resort/Cruise is August through early September. Spring fashion is from October to November, with some shows in early December. Summer is shown in December-January with a late show in February.

Since the buying shows happen in well in advance of upcoming seasons, you better have good insight into what buyers are looking for. For example, if you wait until February to show your spring collection, many buyers will already have placed their orders in the fall. They’ll be looking for some summer, but mostly fall and winter samples for the following year. Even if they like what you’re showing, they may have already exhausted the budget. Also, you will need to have your product ready in time for the promised ship dates.

Stay tuned for more on How to Become a Fashion Designer

Express Fashion

Let’s express fashion as another beautiful manifestation of life. In fact the biggest fashion designer of the world is Mother Nature herself with her beautiful, imaginative and vivid expressions all around. For humanity from the olden days itself fashion was a source of joyful and creative expression of life just like the art, the science, the dance, the music and of course sex.

Fashion exists as two worlds today, the real and the superficial. I feel fashion is grossly misunderstood and maligned in the contemporary sense. In the superficial world of fashion, it is perceived as the privilege of the so called upper strata of the society. This is the tragedy of today’s fashion. Some people with the money, power and glamour flaunt the so called fashion and the rest of the world are made to believe that this is the real fashion.

This is a type of fashion that is being hyped and flaunted by select few and which is not accessible to most of the people. This is the shallow and superficial world of fashion that exists as we can see today.

Express fashion: The real world of fashion

Nevertheless we need to understand that this is just a small minority group and the real world of fashion is much richer and larger in proportion. Real fashion is about how people express their traditions and culture through their clothing, ornaments, the art, the science, the music and dance. This is the real world of fashion which has to be discovered by us. So let’s express fashion that is the “real” fashion.

Express fashion: Real fashion radiates from deep within

From the individual perspective, the real fashion radiates from deep within. Here, you never ape anybody. It just naturally comes to you. It is nothing but a deep desire of the heart and the soul to be full and complete from deep within and project it outwardly. To discover the real fashion you need to understand your inner self and its deep desire to connect with the external world through the joyous and colorful patterns of expression.

I feel “express fashion” is nothing but expressing fashion from deep within you. Next time you think about fashion, think about your needs and your comfort and then see the magic of fashion getting expressed in you in a real express way. When you just do it the natural way that is your way, you will start finding that people take a note of you.

So when we say express fashion, it is not just limited to your clothes or ornaments that you wear but it involves expressing your radiant personality. It is an expression of your inner happiness which is reflected through your body, your mind, your heart and your soul. It comes out naturally and radiates outward because of the feeling of being complete and one with nature. This is a very feminine and soothing manifestation of the self irrespective of the gender. Fashion is therefore a beautiful manifestation of the feminine principle itself.

Fashion Degrees Are a Popular Trend

The popularity of television shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model has added even more glamour to the fashion industry, and many people are wondering if a fashion career is right for them.

A fashion career might be a good fit for you if you have the right combination of creativity and business acumen. The fashion industry isn’t based just on making sketches of beautiful clothes, which is why many people are surprised at the hard work that goes into getting a degree in either fashion design or fashion merchandising. The truth is, you can’t just be a designer. You also have to be a great business person, which is why four-year Bachelor’s degrees are becoming increasingly sought after in the fashion industry.

A Bachelor’s degree in either Fashion Design or Fashion Merchandising covers a wide range of skills that can be used in the industry whether you end up designing apparel, organizing fashion shows, coordinating events or managing your own chain of retail stores. The in-depth education you’ll receive will include hands-on courses as well as internships and classroom work taught by industry professionals and professors in disciplines such as accounting and business. As a fashion designer, you can’t succeed today on pure genius. If you can’t address the realities of cost and practicality, someone else will overtake you.

Typical coursework will include a variety of interesting subjects, including the history of fashion and how fashion impacts society. You will gain an understanding of fabrics, textiles and ornamentation, as well as cutting, sewing and pattern making. You will also gain valuable exposure to the growing field of computer assisted design (CAD). Fashion merchandising and sales, accounting, business management, business technology and accounting are also studied. Consumer behavior is focused upon, giving you valuable insight into how to appeal to your potential clients.

There are actually two popular Bachelor’s degrees available for those interested in the fashion industry. If you earn a degree in Fashion Design, you’ll be prepared to work in any design house. You can work your way up from the cutting floor to becoming a design assistant. And eventually, you will be a designer in your own right. You may also coordinate and plan fashion shows or become an events coordinator for fashion houses and department store chains.

With a degree in Fashion Merchandising, your focus will be more on the retail and marketing side of the industry. You can become a buyer for a retail store or private label fashion house, traveling around the world to watch fashion shows and choosing which lines they will carry in the coming year. Other options include becoming the merchandising coordinator in a particular store, designing the display of merchandise to its best advantage. Window dressers are also in demand in large cities, where high-end department stores compete for the title of “best dressed window”.

Either type of fashion degree prepares you for the world of retail management. If your dream is to manage your own fashion store, you can’t go wrong with a degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising. Both degrees give you an excellent overview of the industry and an understanding of everything from which materials work well together to how to handle production and stocking costs. If you think that you have the head for business and the heart for design that it takes for success in the fashion world, getting a Fashion Degree is your best first step.

Fashion Business School Is Just Plain Smart

Fashion is big business, and is a multi-billion dollar industry. Over the years, more and more fashion students are considering entering fashion business school. At first glance, possibly fashion school seems a frivolous course of studies, but when you think that some haute couture designer dresses go for $20,000.00 dollars and more, you realize that there is a lot of money in fashion, and if you are dealing with any amount of money, a business course seems only reasonable.

Another excellent reason to go to business fashion school is if you are interested not just in working for another designer, but if you are interested in designing your own line. In this case, you have to know how to run your business in a business-like way. You can’t think that Gucci or Lauren went into fashion with no idea how to manage money, are have any business skills, even if they now use others to do the business end of fashion for them. It should be obvious to you that any students out there who are serious about their success should think about taking some fashion business courses.

When you are looking for a fashion business school, there are a few criteria that you should be looking for. You will want a school that has courses that not only teach the business end of the business, but one that teaches current fashion trends, and the history of fashion. A truism is that you can never know what is going to happen with fashion in the future until you know what went on in the past. Where fashion came from is just as important as where it is going. The evolution of fashion is an important trend that has great bearing upon the business of fashion today. You can see this in the repeating of styles, and the retro look that occurs nearly every year in at least one collection.

The fashion business schools should offer courses that cover all the aspects of fashion, from project to production. The commercialization and distribution of garments should be covered, as well as all aspects of retail. The product of fashion will be studied; including how long the trend is speculated to last, and what the next trend will be. Market trends and customs are also important aspects to know, and of course, market demands must be met.

The Business school should also teach about fabrics, quality control, collections and how to control costs. Communication and promotion are also important subjects for an all rounded study.
At the completion of the course, you should know not only how to take your projects from start to finish but how to collaborate with others on the various aspects of all stages of fashion and design

So if you are considering a career in fashion, you should be aware that it is not only the designing aspect of fashion that is important, and any school that you are considering should also teach the business end. You will need to learn all aspect of the fashion industry, from the design to the clothing, the marketing, retailing and promotion. If you know all of these things you will be able and confident to handle all aspects of the fashion industry. This will help not only your career with the company you work for, but for yourself when and if you decide to head out on your own with your own designs and collections.

So a fashion business and design school is and excellent idea for any student that who is interested in getting into the industry. If you love designing, but don’t know anything about fashion design or fashion business, then you should definitely consider going to a Fashion Business School.