Fashion Designer – Do You Have What it Takes to Get Into Fashion?

For an artist, the world of fashion can seem more like a business than a world of creative fashion design. Aspiring fashion designers need to understand that this is all necessary. Business is the life blood of fashion and the fashion itself is only the soul. Fashion simply wouldn’t be able to see mass production if it were any other way. So you may be a ‘creative’ but as a fashion designer you must develop a passion for not only design but manufacturing challenges, the excitement of marketing and overcoming competition.

In the professional world of fashion, you’ll spend less than 10 percent of your time designing your collections and the rest of the time working out money management issues, and executing marketing strategies. These are the only things that will give life to your creative work and allow you to survive as a fashion designer so your garment designs will hit the store shelves and not just remain the beautiful figments of your creative imagination.

You want to become well acquainted with the business aspect of fashion. Don’t even think of starting out on you own. Work for any designer, design house or clothing manufacturer first so you can become well versed in how the fashion industry works on a daily basis and carefully climb up the ladder from there. Study how other fashion designers made their way to the top. Most of the biggest name designers worked under other designers for years before they started their own labels. They often worked for more than one fashion designer or fashion house. Having different positions and seeing different ways of how business was handled, they gained hands on knowledge, experience, confidence and acquired indispensable assets of credibility and reputation at the same time.

So if you’re getting into fashion design you’ve got to plan on being a lifer if you’re going to one day own your own line. Here is a list of characteristics you need to either have already or acquire as you go along in order to become a successful fashion designer:

– A hard edge against negative feedback and rejection.

– You need a very competitive spirit.

– You need the ability to be organized and be able to function under extreme stress of dealing with difficult people, multiple deadlines and responsibilities.

– You need to love or learn to love the marketing, negotiating and networking game in the world of fashion.

– And you need the willingness to keep your mind open to learning new things as a fashion designer.

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!

What a Summer in Milan Can Do for a Fashion Designer

Milan, Capital of Fashion

Milan is the fashion capital of the world. This is the place where it all happens because the city revolves around fashion and great design. In Milan, the biggest offense you can commit is having an imitation purse. This is the reason why people who want to learn about fashion often dream about attending a fashion school in Milan, but the idea of living in Italy for years can be intimidating–not to mention expensive. That is why designers should consider an intensive, summer program instead.

So what can an up and coming fashion designer hope to gain from summer school in Milan?

1) Experience – Being in the center of the fashion capital means that you have the chance to see your education in action. You have a chance to see just how fashion works in the real world. Experience is something that you truly need when you want to be the best at something. Attending a design school in Milan is the fashion equivalent of a soldier going through boot camp in Afghanistan.

This experience will look great on a resume and help a young designer get in the door of the real decision makers back in the States because experience is the best teacher. Here is a little secret about resumes–executives rarely read them word for word. Basically, if a company is hiring, the boss will skim through a stack of resumes looking for any interesting detail that sets a person apart. Having the name of a fashion school in Milan on a designer’s resume, combined with some great looks and styles in their portfolio, might be the winning combination to landing that dream job. Rubbing elbows with the fashion elite in Milan will inspire new design ideas while toughening a designer up to be able to handle rejection and harsh criticism.

2) Competition – Since Milan is the fashion capital, it is only natural that people all over the place are competing with each other for the top spot. This will help the new designer become more competitive when they are launching their new line and establishing their presence in the business. Stiff competition is the best thing that can help the development of new talent in fashion design. By going to a summer fashion school in Milan, designers will be putting themselves through a trial by fire.

3) Discipline – Because of the high expectations of fashion schools in Milan, a new designer will learn how to be disciplined and get things done on tight deadlines. Fashion, although it involves creativity, requires a lot of discipline and downright hard work in order to be successful.

4) Opportunity – When attending a fashion school in Milan, there will be all kinds of contacts and opportunities available. Attending a fashion summer program in Milan means having the opportunity to scout the industry for niches while still having the freedom of being a student. Because of this, a designer who stands out in Milan, will be on the fast track to finding a job within the fashion industry. Establish connections and get to know the big players. Also, don’t attend a program unless it will also be able to supply some contacts in order to help a new designer get started in a career in fashion.