What makes a Fashion Designer Successful?
so you want to be a fashion designer here's the untold truth of what it's like day-to-day week to week, month-to-month now before I come in here sounding like a dream stopper I want to let you know that I have worked professionally as a designer for over a decade and I have loved every minute of it.
If I had to do it all over again I would but there areso many misconceptions from what you see on Project Runway to what you see on TVcompared to what it's actually like which is why I'm making this Blog I'mgonna give you a 10,000 foot view of what it's actually like to work as afashion designer and I'm gonna tell you the number one reason most designersstill love their job even though it's not as glamorous as it may seem I'm soHeidi founder of successful fashion designer calm and I teach designers likeyou.
The real world skills that you actually need to get ahead in fashionall the stuff you don't learn in fashion school a lot of people don't talk aboutthis stuff so I like to call it fashion industry secrets revealed so let's dig inwhat is the average day week or month look like from the design throughdevelopment cycle for a fashion designer the big overview it's a pretty typicalthree-step process of what you might expect inspiration design productionrepeat it's what goes on inside of each of these steps where things start to getreally interesting where the process starts to vastly differ from what yousee on TV and in Project Runway now quick disclaimer whether you're workingin a small brand versus a large brand some of the timelines as well as whose jobs.
some of these tasks may be is going to vary this is a global overview of what the general process looks like and what the responsibilities of a fashiondesigner are
Step 1 inspiration it's a pretty fun phase you get to spend a lotof time shopping hanging out on Pinterest looking for colors fabricstrims prints construction details gathering all the inspiration for whatyou want to put into the next collection during this inspiration process you maybe putting together mood boards for things like style or things like colorthat are gonna drive the assortment maybe something like this like this andlike this but there's also a lot of stuff in this process that is not supercreative and not exactly what you might want to hear knocking off other designers happens all the time you'll also be taking a lot of creativedirection from design directors from sales teams from marketing departments.
Everybody wants to give their opinion during the design and inspiration phaseyou also have to do a lot of analysis of what sold well in past seasons lookingat sales reports and seeing what items performed versus which ones didn't isgoing to give you a good idea as to what styles should be introduced for upcomingcollections now I know some of this may not sound as glamorous or creative asyou might want it to be but I promise there is a number one reason why being adesigner is so magical I'm going to share that with you later now during theinspiration phase you may do some light hand sketching these aren't going to beany fancy fashion illustration I'm talking rough sketches to just get somegeneral concepts on paper.
Now if you're not a ham sketcher that's okay I'm noteither I say this because it be part of the process but it doesn'thave to be the other thing you may not have thought about when it comes to theinspiration process is that most of the time the designs you're going to becreating are gonna be very commercial they're not going to be conceptual andthis is a misconception that a lot of people have who aren't familiar with theindustry or design students who come straight out of fashion school here'sthe thing runway designs do not sell designers putgarments on the runway that are artsy they are conceptual they are meant tocatch your attention they are meant to grab the media attention they are formarketing and advertising and publicity but most of the time these designs thesereally fancy artistic things that people fall so in love with they don't go intoproduction they don't go to market they're not actually ever even made forsale most of the time when you're working as a designer.
You're designing commercial products these are everyday clothes for everyday people so onceyou've gathered all this inspiration you've analyzed past sales you'vereviewed input from different departments you've gotten an inspirationfrom what other brands are doing you may even gotten inspiration in the form ofknocking off what other brands are doing yes I promise it happens all the timeonce this inspiration phase is done you're ready to start design.
Step 2 design now during the design phase you may continue on with some of the roughham sketches that you had from your initial inspiration phase but most thetime you're gonna start hashing out ideas in Adobe Illustrator drawing whatare called flats don't be surprised if at this stage you spend something like 20 or more hours per week sketching designs in Illustrator.
You'regonna be mocking out tons of different variations and all the different coloroptions printing them out and assembling them in cork boards like this this iswhat a design board looks like in real life and throughout the season you'lltake styles off you'll add new styles you'll continually be making adjustmentsto the fashion flats in Illustrator printing out new ones and moving themaround on these boards like paper dolls until you finalize the collection you'llalso look at fabric options and trim options and finalize the colors andevery single detail about the garment once the collections been finalized youmay put together finished design boards for each style that looks something likethis here's one here's one and here's one the little sreades of fabric arereferences for what fabric quality is being used forthat style once the design boards are finalized and every style has all of its details it's time to go to.
Step 3 production now the first stage for production is putting together tech packs I talked extensively about what tech packs are in other Blogs but essentially it's the blueprint to give the factory so they know how to make your garment it's a set of instructions you'll send these type packs out to various factories to source each style you'll need to get back information like pricing minimum order quantity and what the turnaround and lead time is for each factory to create this garment for you once the factory for each garment is picked.
You'll go into sampling and production this stage is all about follow up follow up follow up and tracking tracking tracking you may work with various software you may work with a ton of spreadsheet but the bottom line is you have to know what every piece of every part of every garment what the status is at any given time and you needto make sure that things are on track to meet your deadlines I used to have aboss who at any given moment would come over and ask me what's the status ofthis button this hang tag this label this fabric and she would expect me toknow off the top of my head what the status if anything was at any given timenow mind you I was working on something between 24 to 36 different styles.
It was a lot to keep track of so you have to be super organized during this stage thefactory will send you submits for every little piece and part of the garmentthat has to be approved you're going to review and send comments on things likeembroidery you may get two different color options and you've got a pic andtell the factory which one to use yarn colors first contrast stitching anddesign details interior labels and exterior heat seals you need to approvethese and make sure that the hand feel how they are to the touch is good thatthe text is all spelled right that there's no mistakes that everything'sthe right size you have to communicate and approve all of these things with thefactory and make sure that they're submitted on time so that yourdevelopment process goes smoothly you'll also receive real-life garments for prototypes and fit samples that you need to fit on a fit model.
Make sure they'reconstructed well make sure they fit right and sendcomments again communicate with the factory what changes do need to be madewhat is approved and again continue to push them to make sure that things stayon track once everything is approved every little piece of every littlegarment the factory starts production and while they're busy doing productionyou get started on the next season gather inspiration from the competitionreview sales history to see what makes sense to introduce again start sketchingtons of flats in Adobe Illustrator create tech packs to send to thefactories manage product development again and while this is not as glamorousas it looks in the movies and in TV you're not frolicking in fabric all day.
The number one reason designers love doing this kind of work the thing thatkeeps us going day after day even when it's stressful even when it's highpressure even when it's super competitive is that seeing that finishedgarment there is nothing like it in the world seeing it hanging on a rack in aclothing store in New York City seeing your design on a model in amagazine that never gets old even opening that box when bulk productionarrives and seen that finished garment in your own hands it is a pricelessfeeling so well yes you will spend a lot of time on the computer gatheringinspiration you'll spend a lot of time sketching fashion flats and AdobeIllustrator you'll spend a lot of time creating tech packs in Microsoft Excelor.
Some other industry software and you'll spend a lot of time tracking andfollowing up the entire development process but the excitement of seeingsomething that went from a digital sketch to a real-life physical garmentthere is just nothing like it in the world if you liked this Blog please hitthe subscribe button below and give me a thumbs up and for more free tipstutorials and advice on how to get ahead in fashion head on over to successfulfashiondesigner.com and sign up for my email list I share tons of stuff there that you don't see on YouTube I'd also love to hear from you what part of theprocess that I shared with you sounds the most exciting inspiration design or production.
Always Do Your Best,