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Fashion Design: What's Involved?

What exactly does a Fashion Designer do?

Firstly the role of the Fashion Designer can vary depending on the responsibilities required from business to business. So a Junior Designer may spend a lot of time doing trend research, creating presentation boards and assisting more senior designers within the team, at the other end of the spectrum a Fashion Design Manager may not spend much time designing as they are focusing mainly on managerial tasks and structuring apparel ranges - in other words they are more directional. Here are some of the general responsibilities of a Fashion Designer ;-

  • - Colour and Trend Research

  • - Mood Boards

  • - Designing Collections

  • - Presenting Ideas

  • - Tech Packs

  • - Developing Product

  • - Sample Fitting

  • - Sales

So... to give you an overview ;- Colour and Trend Research Usually as a Designer you will be tasked with creating an item or range for a particular market. Your job may be to work out what that means. Who will wear the clothes? What are these people currently wearing? What will your angle be? To do this you can use the internet, magazines, store research. You can be as focused or conceptual as required in order to get the inspiration that you need for the collection. I like to use WGSN (which is a company that focuses on fashion trends) to help with seasonal colours and ideas. I also like going to art exhibitions and travelling for inspiration. It is also important for most commercial roles to spend time looking at similar companies (brand adjacency) to see what they are doing, or not doing well. Mood Boards Once you have all your research you will need to narrow down all your ideas. The best way to do this is to create mood boards to visually present your ideas to colleagues or clients. Mood Boards can be presented in a number of ways. I tend to produce mine on the computer in Illustrator or Photoshop. If it’s a big meeting then I can then either project them or print them out. In large meetings its often useful to make large physical boards, which usually incorporates sticking images you've cut out or created on to a large cardboard board, big enough for everyone to see and examine. The boards can then be displayed around the studio as a source of reference for the duration of the season. Designing Collections Or designing a product usually comes after your research. I personally start with sketching and then move onto CADs using Adobe Illustrator. Some designers don't use computers, some don't draw, so its a matter of preference. In the world of volume, fast fashion and large high street companies, most use CAD for designing at some stage. It helps for speed to build up your own library of designs and to create tech packs later. Presenting Ideas Usually during and after the design process you will need to present your ideas to someone. That may be Design Managers, Product Managers, Company Boss, Sales People. Everyone has an opinion. So as a designer your job will be to focus these ideas and incorporate into your design work. At the end of a season the designer will generally have to present the finalised ideas to the company or client with the hope of getting them signed off...often there will still be a round of changes to follow. Tech Packs These have different names with different companies. After the product is designed it needs to be sampled. To do this you need to create Technical Packs, which have all the information, needed to create a sample. Tech Packs usually have measurements and detailed drawings plus every element from fabric to graphics. As a designer this may be all your responsibility, or you might work with developers to produce these packs. Developing Product This role doesn't always come under the role of the designer. Many companies have dedicated developers that liaise with factories and suppliers to create a physical product from the tech pack. The designer will still have a role to play to make sure that the product matches the vision. Sample Fitting When the sample comes back it needs to be fitted. The designer and developer will work together to check the product over, make sure the measurements are all correct and everyone is happy before the product goes into production. Sales So generally this role isn't always the responsibility of the designer but in most part the designer will have some input. The sales part for the designer may involve presenting the collection to buyers or promoting the product.

Create & Develop Resourcing handle design roles from entry to senior level - you can check out our live opportunities in the Design & Development section here

About our Author: Jon graduated with a Design Degree in 2000. He spent five years working as a Senior Fashion Designer for the sportswear brand Puma. He has also been employed by Adidas, Umbro, Bench, Next and Regatta Outdoors. In 2008 Jon opened a Graphic and Fashion Design Studio in his home-town of Brighton, UK. Now residing in Marsden, Huddersfield, he still works as a Freelance Fashion Designer and mixes his experience and creativity to serve up the Graphics Takeaway.

You can find out more about Jon's creative design services by visiting his website Graphics Takeaway here

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