There is no precise ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ way on how you can become a successful fashion designer. You will find that many articles will tell you it comes with ‘perseverance and passion’, which is very much true…however it is also the additional skills that you need to develop for your designs to become successful.
Don’t run before you can walk! Create a little work space and get those design ideas that are in your head onto paper. Then use some old fabric and start experimenting with your designs. To simplify it you can either deconstruct and reconstruct some old clothes or purchase a pattern cutting book and make it from scratch; this is a better way of understanding the construction of the design. We suggest pattern cutting books by Winifred Aldrich!
“Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.”
Once you have messed around with your own design ideas and have an idea of your brand image, be sure to take some extra steps before you turn your designs into a brand;
Step 1: do your research. You’d be surprised at how impressed industry experts will be with you if you can talk about some historical design influences! It’s very easy to find this information online or reading books such as ‘The Fashion Book’ by Phaidon (1998) or ‘100 Years of Fashion’ by Cally Blackman (2012). A lot of designers spend much of their time trend forecasting, which is a critical part of the design stage. Use platforms such as WGSN and PopSugar to find out about ßupcoming trends!
Step 2: Sketch! It is key to be able to sketch out your ideas. Use a human template at the start if that makes it easier. You can also attend art lessons if you need some additional drawing support, these are likely to be hosted at colleges and design schools!
Step 3: get the degree! Going to university and studying a fashion related course isn’t vital, some people prefer to go straight into work. However, this may be beneficial to you as you’re likely to learn the basic knowledges of CAD / CAM which is a superb skill to have if you’re wanting to become a designer!
Step 4: Learn CAD/ CAM. If you decided to give university a miss, there’s no problem in learning how to use this software with online tutorials. You can even pay to attend a set of workshops that teach CAD / CAM to beginners. Alternatively, by purchasing the Creative Cloud (Adobe) you will get the original online tutorials on there. This is an important step as you’re likely to create your designs on these platforms, but there is also nothing wrong with the old pencil and paper to draw some initial designs!
Step 5: Get work experience! Undertaking internships or a few weeks work experience in fashion houses never hurt anyone. By doing this, you will learn a ton of first-hand skills in industry and it will boost your CV! You may also make some great connections here with photographers, design assistants, stylist and directors. When you become a fashion designer making these connections are vital! This will also allow you to gain some business expertise.
Step 6: Make a Portfolio: this is a must. Ensure you document all your greatest work achievements into a digital and psychical portfolio and make sure you credit all assistants too. Ensure your portfolio is also visually pleasing and represents your brand and your character well.
Step 7: Experiment: Use prototypes of designs you’ve made and compose various shoots around cool and quirky locations! Hire a photographer for a few hours (or if you’re lucky enough to have a friend with photography skills ask them) and get some good ‘look-book’ pictures; this will be great for adding to your portfolio and creating your ‘brand story’.
Step 8: Go to galleries: This is quite the obvious. But attending museums, galleries and exhibitions will really get those creative juices flowing.
These are just a few of the essential skills you will need before investing in your own brand. You will need more personable skills too and ensure you have a part-time job to keep funding for your long-term business goal.