Fashion design is the art of applying design, aesthetics and natural beauty to clothing and its accessories. It is influenced by cultural and social attitudes, and has varied over time and place.
Fashion designers work in a number of ways in designing clothing and accessories such as bracelets and necklaces. Because of the time required to bring a garment onto the market, designers must at times anticipate changes to consumer tastes.
Designers conduct research on fashion trends and interpret them for their audience. Their specific designs are used by manufacturers. This is the essence of a designer’s role; however, there is variation within this that is determined by the buying and merchandising approach, and product quality; for example budget retailers will use inexpensive fabrics to interpret trends, but high-end retailers will ensure that the best available fabrics are used.
India which has always been a center for the textile and garment trade is also growing into a center of innovation in garment and accessory design. Fashion technology has a wide scope for choosing a career.
Now the fashion industry has become so specialized that it encompasses a vast field of studies in design, concept management, design production management, quality control, planning, fabric design, printing, fashion accessory design, fashion merchandising, textile science, colour mixing, marketing and so on.
The primary areas of work in the fashion industry are market research, designing and manufacturing of garments and textiles.
Fashion design is the most important area of work in fashion industry. Designing involves creating original designs after studying the changing trends of the market. It has various fields of specialization like garments, footwear, jewelry and even luggage. It is a challenging field as it requires the coordination of various jobs. In a small enterprise it is usually a one man show but in big organizations the jobs are specialized and allotted to different people.
Manufacturing involves purchasing textiles and fabrics required for the design and making the garment according to the master pattern. Manufacturing process requires employment of a large number of trained personnel.
Eligibility and Course Areas
Minimum eligibility for the Undergraduate course in this field is 10+2 with 50% marks and for Post Graduate courses graduation. In the prominent institutes, admission is strictly on merit — through written test, situation test, group discussion and interview.
These courses are aimed at understanding concepts related to costume, jewelry, leather goods and many other similar products where fashion matters.
The courses include Graduate, Post graduate, Certificate and Diploma in the following areas:
- Accessory designing and fashion designing
- Garment Manufacturing Technology
- Apparel Marketing and Merchandising
- Leather and Garment Design and Technology
- Knitwear Design and Technology
- Textile Design and Development
- Fashion Journalism and Presentation
The training also includes internship in an organization which gives the students industry functions. Most training institutes have the latest technologies including laboratories, workshops, design and research centers, libraries, computers and information about the latest development in the industry.
Prominent institutes in Fashion Technology are National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), National Institute of Design (NID), International Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi (IIFT); IEC School of Art and Fashion, New Delhi; Indian Institute of Art and Fashion Technology (IIAFT), Mumbai; Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi; J.D Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi.
Fashion designers attempt to design clothes which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn.
They have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colors, patterns and styles to choose from. Though most clothing worn for everyday wear falls within a narrow range of conventional styles, unusual garments are usually sought for special occasions such as evening wear or party dresses.
The candidates after successful completion of the course can find excellent placements in garment, leather and jewelry industry as merchandising executives, fashion designers, illustrators, fashion co-coordinators, etc. Export houses, textile mills, garment store chains, boutiques, leather companies, jewelry houses, fashion show organizers also look for such candidates.
Career Options in Fashion Industry
1. Fashion Designing
Fashion designers develop new styles and products for clothing apparel and accessories by creating original designs or by adapting fashions to suit local conditions, trends and buyers. They are the ones who approve final samples before they go into production.
The designer begins the designing process only after thorough market research, i.e., understanding the needs of the client/market in terms of changing trends, budget etc. Accessory Designers specialize in designing shoes, bags, scarves, jewelry, ties, etc. which complete the look of the garment.
Personal Attributes for Fashion Designing
Fashion designers need to be artistic, creative and must possess ability to translate ideas in sketches, must have keen sense of color i.e. combination of shades and tones, visual imagination and knowledge of market trends.
Basic qualification for a course in fashion designing is 10+2; and it varies depending on the course chosen.
You can find employment with professional designers as apprentice, and as costume designer for manufacturing units, export houses, boutiques, etc. You can also do freelancing for fashion houses and boutiques and at the same time it is rewarding possibility for self-employment by opening your own boutique.
Fashion coordinators arrange and supervise the marketing of fashion clothing for manufacturing houses, textile firms and retail stores. It is a highly competitive job involving a variety of functions. Coordinates may be required to travel widely to get an idea of the fashion trends.
Fashion Consultant must be aware of the trends and transitions in the fashion market along with knowledge about fashion designing. They are expected to offer ideas regularly on how to further develop a product to be readily absorbed in a market. He/she should be a sharp observer sensitive to changing trends.
Cutting Assistants have to cut samples according to specifications of the designer. A cutting assistant cuts samples, makes and alters patterns to see that the design visualized can be converted to a real dress.
Sketching Assistants make the technical sketches of the garments and makes drawings for presentation. It is from this specification sketches one decide how a garment has to be fabricated. The sketching assistant sometimes has to select the fabric also.
Fashion Stylist has to coordinate the entire wardrobe for a fashion show or programs to promote the sales of the products. It involves coordinating the dress, accessories; make up, hairstyle, even the color of the nail polish of the model according to the theme and the overall look of the show. Sometimes a stylist is even involved in fabric selection. He/she have to be well versed in the trends and happenings in the industry and also have a keen sense of current fashion trends.
2. Textile designing
Textile Designers or Fabric Desigers design woven, knitted or printed fabrics for clothing and other home ware items like carpets, tableware etc. They treat the yarn through different types of processes to give it a particular finish.
The textile designer also make drawings of initial concepts and work with various yarns and fabrics taking into account the final use of the fabric by translating the designs into marketable fabrics. Textile designers work within and alongside industries such as fashion, interior design, and textiles.
Colorist plays a vital role in the textile-printers, artist team. They are involved in block printing or machine printing. They must keep a record of color samples and fabric pieces and have to work in a high paced environment, to meet deadlines.
The colorist has to be very organized and must carefully follow precise instructions. The other career options in textile designing are weavers, embroidery designers, dying and printing consultant, fabric analyzer, textile lab manager, fabric resource manager etc.
3. Apparel Merchandising
Fashion Merchandisers are mainly responsible for marketing. He/she has to study past and current sales data and analyze trends.
They have to collect specifications from the buyers, coordinate with fashion designers and production team to develop a product which meets market requirement. They must have knowledge of fashion trends, textures, materials and colors on one hand and understanding of market demand and the production processes on the other. At the same time have analytical ability and communication skills. They can find employment with garment industries, export houses, manufacturing firms etc.
4. Visual Merchandising
This is a comparatively new career field which has sprung up with the growing popularity of window and floor displays. Visual merchandizer’s main area of work is to create impressive window displays. They can find employment with fashion boutiques, shopping malls, emporia etc. They are also engaged as shop floor managers. They can also do freelancing on contract basis for window displays in exhibitions, fairs and other places.
5. Fashion Journalism and Presentation
Fashion Journalist is an overall in-charge of a fashion magazine. It is through them that the general public gets to know the latest fashion trends.
He/she should have excellent taste for fashion and keep themselves abreast with latest fashion news, consumer reaction to new collections, fashion shows, current and future trends in color, design and fabric.
6. Fashion Photography
Fashion Photography is an extremely creative and well paid profession. Fashion photographer needs to have a keen eye for aesthetic detail, a thorough knowledge of cameras and the technicalities involved in taking pictures, of light, distance and perspective to be successful.
He/she should be inventive and able to visualize and communicate their ideas, at the same tim must be sensitive to the moods of the models and interact freely with them. Fashion photography is one of the choices that photographers can diversify into. They can do freelancing and find employment with fashion houses, designers, fashion journals and newspapers.
If you have an attractive and outgoing personality and good communication skills, you can opt for modeling. Modeling is a highly paid job and is categorized into live modeling and photographic modeling.
- Live modeling is what we see in fashion shows, exhibitions where models display clothes and accessories for potential customers.
- Photographic or still modeling is taking photographs for Magazines, newspapers, catalogues and films for advertisements.
One must take care to maintain their figure and looks, as modeling is a highly competitive field. Good looks, height, an attractive physique combined with self-confidence and a trendy approach to life go a long way to make a model popular. In addition they should be highly photogenic. Patience and the ability to stand criticism are vital for survival and progress.
Models can find employment with designers, in design houses, advertisement firms etc.
8. Fashion Stylist
Fashion Stylist has to coordinate the entire wardrobe for a fashion show or program to promote the sales of the products. It involves coordinating the dress, accessories; make up, hairstyle, even the color of the nail polish of the model according to the theme and the overall look of the show. Sometimes a stylist is even involved in fabric selection. He/she has to be well versed in the trends and happenings in the industry and also have a keen sense of current fashion trends.
Duties of Fashion Designers
Fashion designers typically do the following:
- Study fashion trends and anticipate designs that will appeal to consumers
- Decide on a theme for a collection
- Use computer-aided design (CAD) programs to create designs
- Visit manufacturers or trade shows to get samples of fabric
- Select fabrics, embellishments, colors, or a style for each garment or accessory
- Present design ideas to the creative director or showcase them in fashion or trade shows
- Market designs to clothing retailers or directly to consumers
- Oversee the final production of their designs
- Larger apparel companies typically employ a team of designers headed by a creative director. Some fashion designers specialize in clothing, footwear, or accessory design; others create designs in all three fashion categories.
For some fashion designers, the first step in creating a new design is researching current fashion and making predictions about future trends using trend reports published by fashion industry trade groups. Other fashion designers create collections from inspirations they get from their regular surroundings, from the cultures they have experienced and places they have visited, or from various art media that inspire them.
After they have an initial idea, fashion designers try out various fabrics and produce a prototype, often with less expensive material than will be used in the final product. They work with models to see how the design will look and adjust the designs as needed.
Although most designers first sketch their designs by hand, many now also sketch their ideas digitally with computer-aided design (CAD) programs. They can try out different colors, designs, and shapes while making adjustments more easily than they can when working with real fabric on real people.
Designers produce samples with the actual materials that will be used in manufacturing. Samples that get good responses from fashion editors or trade and fashion shows are then manufactured and sold to consumers.
Examples of Fashion Designers
- Clothing designers create and help produce men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, including casual wear, suits, sportswear, evening wear, outerwear, maternity clothing, and intimate apparel.
- Footwear designers create and help produce different styles of shoes and boots. As new materials, such as lightweight synthetic materials used in shoe soles, become available, footwear designers produce new designs that combine comfort, form, and function.
- Accessory designers design and produce items such as handbags, suitcases, belts, scarves, hats, hosiery, and eyewear.
- Costume designers design costumes for the performing arts and for motion picture and television productions. They research the styles worn during the period in which the performance takes place, or they work with directors to select and create appropriate attire. They also must stay within the costume budget for the particular production.
Different Roles, Different Names
As a professional fashion designer, you can work in areas like designer wear production, fashion marketing, planning and concept management. Then there is fashion media, design production management, fashion accessory design, quality control and promotion of brands.
You might also work as a designated costume designer, fashion consultant, personal stylist, technical designer, graphic designer, production pattern maker or a fashion coordinator.
Other roles include apparel production manager, fabric buyer, fabric quality control manager, show room sales representative, illustrator, cutting assistant and outside sales representative. Those interested in a career in fashion designing can also become entrepreneurs and form their own companies.