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Fashion Designer

Fashion designers work on the design of a clothing range. Some may focus completely on a specialist area, such as sportswear, childrens wear or accessories.
 
The main markets they design for are haute couture, designer ready-to-wear and high street fashion. Developments in technology mean that a designer ready-to-wear product can be produced as a high street version in under six weeks.
 
Depending on level of responsibility and the company, a designer may work to their own brief or be given a brief to work towards (including specifications in relation to colour and fabric) and develop a product from this.
 
Typical work activities
High street fashion, where the majority of designers work and where garments are manufactured in their thousands. Influences play a key role in this design process and the turnaround of 'young fashion' in particular can be quite rapid.
Ready-to-wear. Many designers will also produce ready-to-wear collections, although these are produced in relatively small numbers.
Haute couture. This requires large amounts of time working on the production of individual garments.
Tasks depend on the market the designer is producing for, but core responsibilities include:
 
  • creating/visualising an idea and making a sketch by hand or using computer aided design (CAD);
  • analysing trends in fabrics, colours and shapes;
  • keeping up to date with emerging fashion trends;
  • planning and developing ranges;
  • working with others in the design team, such as buyers and forecasters, to develop a product to meet the brief;
  • liaising closely with sales, buying and production teams to ensure the item complements other products;
  • developing a pattern that is then cut and sewn into sample garments;
  • sourcing, selecting and buying fabrics;
  • adapting existing designs for mass production;
  • supervising the making up of sample garments;
  • overseeing production;
  • negotiating with customers and suppliers;
  • managing marketing, finances and other business activities if working on a self-employed basis.
Experienced designers with larger companies may focus more on the design aspect, with pattern cutters and machinists preparing sample garments. In smaller companies these, and other tasks, may be part of the designer's role.
 
Range of typical starting salaries: £14,000 - £18,000, or £16,000 - £20,000 for London-based roles (salary data collected July 05).
A good junior designer can expect to earn £30,000 - £35,000 in three to four years' time (salary data collected July 05).
Salaries vary depending on geographical location and type of employer.
Range of typical salaries at senior level, such as head designer: £30,000 - £60,000 (salary data collected July 05).
Working hours typically include regular extra hours, but not usually weekend or shift work.
The working environment varies between companies and can range from a Victorian-style factory, to a modern purpose-built office or a small, smart design studio. Freelance designers may work from home or in rented studio areas.
Self-employment/freelance work is commonly possible - even straight after graduation. Long-term self-employment is an option, allowing more flexibility for part-time work. Larger companies may support career breaks.
The gender ratio is approximately 25%:75% male to female. More men have designer collections in high fashion but senior designers elsewhere in the industry are usually women.
The majority of opportunities are available in London and the South East, although there are vacancies in the Midlands and some large towns and cities in the North West and Scotland.
The pressure of deadlines and working antisocial hours to meet these can intrude on private life.
Career success relies on a combination of creativity, perseverance and resilience.
Travel within the working day, absence from home at night and overseas work is occasional. There is scope for travel abroad, for example to attend trade shows or to meet suppliers.
 
Information taken from Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk for more information


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