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Fashion Design Degree 101 - Is The Fashion Industry Right for You?

written: January 19, 2011

written by: Tina Benjamin

Fashion designers are the hub of the fashion industry. They create a multitude of clothing as well as many types of accessories. Employers usually look for designers who have earned a post secondary 2-year or a 4-year degree. These designers are knowledgeable in fashion trends as well as fabrics and textiles.

Every year consumers spend billions on dresses, shoes, purses. eye wear and other clothing and accessories. Fashion designers create these items and spark the ideas that become the fashion trends. Designers produce casual wear, sportswear, formal wear, outerwear, suits, and intimate apparel. They also create shoes, boots, handbags, belts, scarves, eye wear to add to the outfits.

To create a design concept, designers research fashion and future trends. This may be types of fabrics, colors or styles. Then they create a prototype in which they test their choices. After the decisions are made, samples are created and marketed to retailers through fashion shows or trade shows. Retailers will then place orders and then items will be manufactured. This whole process takes between 18 and 24 months.

Fashion designers typically need to earn a bachelor's degree in fashion design. A lot of designers combine degrees such as fashion design with fashion merchandising, business or a marketing degree. As a fashion student you would learn skills in courses that teach color, textiles, pattern making, textiles, CAD, sewing, and fashion history. You would learn to design different types of clothing, i.e. footwear and womens wear. Other useful courses would include anatomy and mathematics to name a few.

There are approximately 300 schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, many of which provide fashion degrees. Most students would be required to complete basic art and design courses before being accepted into the fashion program.

Fashion designers or designers in general must have an eye for color and detail, balance and proportion, problem solving skills and communication skills. They must also have the ability to sketch and have a decent portfolio to earn employment. They must understand sewing and pattern making even though they may not ever need to do these particular tasks themselves. Knowledge in construction of garments allows the designer to instruct other people in the garment making process.

Fashion designers held around 22,700 jobs in the year 2008. 31% of these designers worked for apparel, piece goods, and notions merchant wholesalers. About 13% worked for apparel manufacturers and many were self employed. Also in 2008, fashion designers were concentrated in the states of California and New York. *

There is little or no change in the projection of employment in the fashion designers industry. It is projected to grow 1% between 2008 and 2018.* Due to the increasing population, the demand for new clothing will create some new jobs in the fashion industry. The demand for affordable yet stylish clothing will increase, therefore increasing the number of designers among the apparel wholesalers. Firms are more likely to keep their design work in house, causing the fashion design industry not to decline as fast as other occupations.

Job competition is high due to the creativity and glamor associated with fashion design. This causes an attraction to the occupation. Designers that create mass-market clothing will provide the best opportunities.

If you think that fashion design is something you may want to pursue, check out the fashion design programs.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

Tags: Art/Design

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