What is a fashion designer's job?
Updated: Oct 12, 2020
If you are thinking about becoming a fashion designer and working for a commercial fashion brand then you have come to the right place. I have worked as a Fashion Designer since the early noughties for brands like Puma and Adidas and now work as a Freelance Fashion Designer through my own company J Mitchell Design.
Here's some info on what to expect when you jump into the world of fashion designing and start working for a high street fashion brand. Expectations at a haute couture brand, or high end fashion house are similar but I am focusing on what is a fashion designer's job in the commercial industry.
You may imagine imagine that the job of a fashion designer is just to bring creativity, flair and new ideas to the table. This is a true to a certain extent but it is also a fashion designer's job to follow the DNA of a brand and work out ways to re-imagine and update existing styles to keep best selling products looking fresh in-store for customers. Often you will hear people ask you to design a style that needs to be the same but different. The challenge being to offer newness to customers without alienating them from what they know and expect about the brand. Commercial fashion designers are also expected to follow trends. It is your job to look at what is going on in the world of fashion by looking at the catwalks, style networks, internet, looking at whats going on in the streets and in your competitors stores.
A fashion designer will work on a specific product type. Depending on the size of the company and the role you are hired for, you could be working on a certain product area, be that shirting, outerwear, jersey, knits or multi-products etc. You could be working on men's, women's, kid's or a combination.You could be focusing purely on active products, or sportswear or workwear...
Fashion collections are traditionally split into seasons Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, this allows retailers to plan and buy product twice a year for their stores. With more and more companies now focusing on DTC (direct to consumer) channels. like through their own websites and on social media like, Instagram, many fashion companies are starting to bring in more smaller collections and stories. These can be released throughout the year to keep the brands content fresh and exciting for the consumer. As a designer you will help create these collections usually with input from product managers within the company, sometimes from sales people and using your own trend research, market research and ideas. The first step of a collection is to work on the story and create mood boards which convey the concept of the idea. You can then show the mood board to people within the company or external sales people and get them on-board with the direction.
At this point your product manager should present you with a range plan, also known as a line list. The range plan will be a list of styles that need to be designed in the collection ie two t-shirts, one vest, one full-zip hoodie, one jacket etc. The next step is to to take your ideas and start designing products to match the range plan and brief for the collection. You will be expected to come up with options for each style. You can do this either by drawing designs by hand or creating CADs using a design programme such as Adobe Illustrator. The designs should be shown in a way which can be easily presented to other members of your team or sales force.
After the designs have been agreed the next stage is to create tech packs for each style in the collection. The tech pack needs to explain the product details and will be used by a pattern cutter, either at a factory or at an in-house sample department to make prototype samples. You will need to think about every element from the stitching, to fabrics and trims, such as zip pullers and labels.
When the sample is made and sent to you it's time to do a sample fitting. the sample needs to be inspected and checked over. Did the factory or whoever made the sample get all the details correct? Does the sample fit correctly on a model? Does it look good now that you have seen it in real life, or do you need to make design changes? It's your job as the designer to work on the sample and make comments. If the garment is perfectly fine, or just needs some minor adjustments then it might be ready for manufacturing. Often there will be elements which need re-working and a new sample will be made, sometimes you may need 3 or 4 samples before it's ready to be put into production.
Often you will receive pre-production samples. These are a full set of samples ready for manufacturing. You may need to present these samples to your team and your sales force. Pointing out all the finer details and ideas. The sales team and marketing people will make notes so that they can covey your ideas and the story to the retailers and the public.
Now you need to move onto a new project and start researching for the next collection.
I hope this information helps. If you have any comments let me know it would be great to hear your feedback.
If you are looking for a Freelance Fashion Designer. Get in touch www.jmitchelldesign.co.uk