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Personal Characteristics to Be a Successful Fashion Designer

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A fashion designer combines creative talents with enthusiasm for clothing, apparel or shoes. Some designers work in established boutiques, but you could also operate your own design business. Though having a fashion design degree can help land a job, you could build a successful career without formal education if you get a good internship opportunity and have the ability to showcase a distinct style.

High Confidence Level

Fashion designers typically need a high level of personal confidence. The fashion industry is very cutthroat. It takes confidence to present your original work to an employer, retail buyers and the marketplace. You must have faith that all of these stakeholders accept your creations as fashionable and desirable. You may also face rejection multiple times in the process of working your way into a fashion design career. Your name and personal brand are integral to long-term success, but it takes time to develop a reputation.

Artistic and Creative

Fashion designers are clothing or apparel artists. They do much more than simply weave together pieces of fabric into a singular article of clothing. Designers must have a flair for trends, a distinct style and an understanding of how and why people buy certain types of clothes, accessories or shoes. Combining market awareness with a distinctive style, fashion designers can more effectively create differentiated brands.

Quick Thinking

While some fashion designers work independently, many lead a team that designs, develops and produces. In some cases, the designer must make decisions on materials, pricing, production, marketing and sales. Decisiveness is important because of the sense of urgency to get trendy products on shelves when demand is highest. Designers often must make immediate decisions while working on a new design or product.


Design is a creative endeavor, but fashion designers typically operate a business or play an integral role in a company. A good designer also has a keen eye for business. Many designers do their own analyses and research to get a sense for what is happening in the industry. They analyze competitors to ensure differentiation. You must also have the ability to negotiate, manage budgets and set prices that generate profit, in many cases.

2016 Salary Information for Fashion Designers

Fashion designers earned a median annual salary of $65,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, fashion designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,020, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,550, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 23,800 people were employed in the U.S. as fashion designers.