Fashion designers conceive and design clothing for every purpose. High-fashion designers in the trendiest New York studios design haute couture pieces for specific purposes and children's designers in one-person shops design lines for play clothes, but both kinds of designers need the same skills, and both must know what their customers want.
You Need a Creative Eye
Above all else, good fashion designers need a strong sense of creativity and artistic vision. Standing out as a fashion designer demands work that is stylish and unique, but also functional and, in most cases, practical. Designers often must be able to envision clothes that look good while meeting basic needs. They must be able to sketch designs and express their visions through illustrations on paper or computers. They also must be able to craft prototypes of new pieces and see how they need to be refined.
You Need a Finger on the Pulse
Successful fashion designers know their industry inside and out. They are aware of trends around the world and of what their competitors and fellow designers are doing. They must have a strong commercial awareness not just for what's selling now, but what will sell in the future. Successful designers also develop strong networks among models, suppliers and distributors in order to keep abreast of new developments and tap the right resources at the right times.
You Need Excellent Technical Skills
An artistic eye and a knowledge of the industry won't help designers who do not understand the technical aspects of the job. Designers must know fabrics, their characteristics, and what they can be used for. Designers also need solid computer-aided design skills to work in most medium or larger studios, as well as superior drawing skills. And they need to understand the technical aspects of the production process from first sketch to final item.
While budding fashion designers do not technically need a college degree, most take courses in design, textiles or fashion merchandising and marketing. These courses bolster weak spots in a designer's resume and often help them network within the industry. Many designer earn their stripes through internships with established studios. Education may also offer a competitive edge. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects opportunities in fashion design to diminish through 2020, and those with college degrees could become more sought after.