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Fashion designer

Fashion designers design clothing and fashion ranges.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £80,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need a relevant higher education qualification, like a foundation degree, HND or degree. Taking a course which teaches design and technical skills at a British Fashion Council member college could be helpful when looking for work.

You’ll often start as a design assistant before working your way up to a full designer role. 

You’ll need a portfolio of your work that you can take to course and job interviews. Your portfolio should include mood boards, designs and technical drawings. An employer or college may also ask you to take along actual garments that you have produced.

Making industry contacts through work experience or internships can help you find employment.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a good eye for colour, texture and shape
  • technical skills like pattern cutting and sewing
  • the ability to spot and develop trends
  • drawing skills
  • the ability to use computer design packages
  • the ability to solve problems

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • working to design instructions (a ‘brief’)
  • analysing or predicting trends in fabrics, colours and shapes
  • producing concept and mood boards (a collection of items to capture a mood, like photos, fabric pieces or colour samples)
  • producing designs by hand or by using computer-aided design (CAD)
  • developing basic shapes ('blocks') through patterns
  • estimating costs for materials and manufacture
  • finding suppliers
  • supervising the making up of sample clothing items
  • making in-house presentations, for example to finance departments and merchandisers
You’ll often work closely with garment technologists and sample machinists. You could also work with manufacturers (often based overseas) to make sure that designs are reproduced accurately.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £80,000

As a freelance designer you’ll set your own rates, and may charge per design or per collection.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll often work long hours and weekends to meet deadlines, like at the launch of a new collection.

You’ll be based in a studio or workshop, but may travel to visit manufacturers, often overseas.

You may also go on research visits to places like art galleries, trade shows or to particular places or countries that are linked to a design theme.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could progress to senior designer, head of a department (like head of women's wear design) or design director.

You could also go freelance or start your own company.

Last updated: 08 December 2016