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Do you love fashion and have a flair for creativity? Does the work of Sabyasachi, Neeta Lulla, and Falguni Shane Peacock inspire you? Do you dream of curating your runway fashion show someday? If yes, fashion design may be the ideal career choice for you. Over the decades, the definition of fashion has undergone a paradigm shift from implying mere aesthetics to a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with the environment. Today, fashion design is a booming industry. It inspires millions of the youth to take it up as their vocation due to the scope for tremendous growth, vast exposure to various cultures and geographies, umpteen networking opportunities and bright career prospects. If you are considering fashion design as your career option, this article aims to familiarise you with its job roles and responsibilities, basic eligibility and skills required, scope and growth opportunities, and much more.
The ‘fashion designer’ is a generic term connoting a professional working in the fashion industry in job roles, such as pattern-making, sketching, styling, etc. He/She may be a renowned designer with their own label, a designer working for a fashion house or a stylist concerned with only modifying existing designs. The fashion design process begins with a creative idea or a brief which is turned into a sketch. Subsequently, it undergoes various stages of production, such as pattern-making to finishing and testing to turn into a complete garment. The creative ingenuity of fashion designers shape the fashion trends and cultural and social milieu, which form an integral part of heritage.
A Fashion designer creates a specific look for an individual garment, including its shape, colour, style, fabric and trimmings. He/She oversees the entire design process from inception of a creative idea to production until a garment is designed, finished and tested. A fashion designer must have a diverse skill-set such as market research, sketching, knowledge of colour, tones and textures and be thoroughly abreast of the latest fashion trends, the macroeconomic scenario and social factors that influence consumers' purchase decisions.
Enrolling in a fashion design course is the first step toward becoming a fashion designer. One must complete 10+2 from a recognised board with a minimum of 50 per cent marks from any stream. Several colleges conduct an entrance test before taking student admission. Aspirants are judged on their visual proficiency, creativity and logical reasoning. A four-year undergraduate degree- BA(Hons) in fashion design is necessary for becoming a fashion designer. The course acquaints you with concepts and principles of the discipline. Not only that, but it also consists of practical components such as practice school, assignments, and projects which are designed to make students industry-ready for a career in this field.
Though a course in Fashion Design does acquaint aspirants with conceptual clarity, technical proficiency and primary exposure through practical training, one must also possess a diverse skill set to excel in this career. A fashion designer must have excellent communication skills, a keen observation, knowledge of colours, shades and tones, proficiency in visual communication and sketching skills. New-age skills such as business acumen, design thinking, and problem-solving have become increasingly relevant in today's ever-evolving job landscape.
Enrolling for a bachelor’s in fashion design is the gateway to a career in this discipline. While pursuing the course, a student must pay special attention to practical components such as industry visits, master classes, live and collaborative projects, field visits, etc. He/She should gain practical exposure through hands-on training, workshops, projects and internships. Additionally, an updated resume showcasing skills and achievements, a strong portfolio and mock interviews are must to secure a job in this field and begin your career in fashion design.
A typical fashion design process involves a series of chronological steps to transform the idea into a reality. Designers often receive a brief from their clients to curate a collection. The brief elucidates the project's scope, key deliverables, budget and timeline. The design process begins with research. Designers often look for inspiration from daily life, art, music, history, and architecture to find the theme for their collection. Once the theme is finalised, a fashion designer translates his visualisation into illustrations which form the building block of the design process. These basic sketches outline the technical elements of apparel such as overall length, fit, shape, darts and seams, sleeve length, and much more. Fashion designers use mood boards, photographs, design books and swatches of fabric to assess which creative concepts work best for a particular collection. To shape a selected creative, fashion designers choose a suitable fabric based on its weight and quality to understand how it will fit into the human body. The next step involves selecting the right combination from a colour palette to convey their theme and narrate their story. Fashion designers may also consider silhouettes to define a garment's shape considering proposition and balance, among other factors. Finally, the finalised sketches are sent to patternmakers for prototyping which enables fashion designers to see the implementation of their idea in a tangible three-dimensional form for the first time. Subsequently, the production process begins through which garments take the final shape as visualised by a fashion designer. Finally, the garment is tested on models for its functionality, size, texture and mobility.
Choosing the appropriate fabric is critical to providing a unique definition of the outfit. Fashion designers assess the fabric in terms of its properties and application to the human body, both functionally and aesthetically. Broadly, these fabrics can be categorised into three groups- i) Clear Contour Fabrics- These fabrics are usually made with fibres of cotton, silk, synthetic fibres, or a combination of these fibres. Clear contour fabrics are lightweight and remain in shape regardless of the human body type and movement. ii) Flowing Line Fabrics- These fabrics change their shape according to the body structure or movement and come in various weights, such as satin, chiffon, fleece. iii) Volume Fabrics such as organza, pleat, and fur, are made of lightweight and sheer material that provides volume to the outfit by adjusting according to a body’s shape and structure
Fashion designers work for fashion houses, garment and textile export houses, manufacturing units, retail brands, boutiques, academic institutions and media houses. Some of them are self-employed and work for their own label or brand. Renowned fashion designers showcase and sell their collections via runway shows, brick and mortar retail spaces, e-commerce or social media platforms. Fashion designers also work in the entertainment industry, where they design costumes for movies, television shows and performing artists. Here, they oversee the production of outfits in a predefined timeline within a specific budget. Some fashion designers also choose to work as freelancers on specific projects on a contractual basis for a specified timeline.
Fashion designers typically work in studios or workshops. Unlike traditional office space, the workplace of a fashion designer is extremely spacious and clean to enable the spreading out of fabrics and store cutting patterns. Their office spaces have a provision for ample light and large storage cabinets to store clothes, fabrics and patterns. A typical day for a fashion designer involves interacting with clients for a brief, making alterations, organising fittings and making several iterations in design to incorporate the client’s feedback into their final product.
Technically speaking, a fashion designer is a generic term denoting a professional working in the fashion industry. The term ‘fashion designer’ may connote any of the following job roles:
The role of a fashion illustrator involves transforming abstract ideas into illustrations. They prepare preliminary sketches on the paper for the fashion designer to elaborate upon. A Fashion illustrator must have a fine hand in drawing and a flair for making illustrations.
A fashion merchandiser oversees marketing for fashion houses, forecasting the market demands and trends. He/She also analyses past and present trends and historical sales data to assess the current market demand to determine production. Fashion merchandisers must have good networking skills to explore potential collaborations and new revenue streams for a fashion brand.
A fashion coordinator is involved in advertising and promotion of the product range and organising fashion shows. Fashion coordinators must have excellent organisational and interpersonal skills.
The fashion stylist's job is to curate and oversee the wardrobe of fashion houses or individuals. He/She chooses the right combination of outfits from the designer’s collection based on the client's personality and the occasion it is to be worn. They also handle the promotional activities of events in which their client participates.
A makeup artist works for fashion shows, fashion events, weddings, pre-wedding photoshoots, and bridal makeup for models and celebrities. Unlike beauticians, they do not undertake regular salon services.
A fashion journalist reports and writes about the latest fashion events, trends and developments in the fashion world for a magazine, newspaper or news website. He/She should be abreast of the latest fashion trends and have a keen eye on news related to the fashion industry.
Fashion Business Management Professionals
Fashion business management involves managing and overseeing the business that deals in fashion. One can work as a fashion director defining strategies for a fashion business, a fashion marketer who supervises marketing activities, or a fashion manager overseeing the business' day-to-day operations.
Fashion design is a broad field with several job roles and umpteen opportunities. As a fashion designer, you get a chance to shape the fashion trends and growth trajectory of the booming fashion industry through your work. It enables you to become a thought- leader in your field by voicing your opinion on various forums and platforms on developments that directly impact the fashion industry. As a fashion designer, you also get the opportunity to network with top renowned personalities from various walks of life. A fashion designer gets to travel to various cities and countries to organise fashion shows and attend fashion events.
The fashion industry is constantly evolving, creating new opportunities, job roles and responsibilities and job vacancies. The conducive push by the government, the emergence of new-age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, etc. and the proliferation of social media have redefined the world of fashion. Moreover, the pandemic has proved to be an inflexion point, accelerating digitisation and sharpening the focus on ethical businesses embodying sustainability as their core philosophy. The convergence of offline and e-commerce giving rise to 'phygital' models, sustainable and eco-friendly fashion, social commerce, and experiential retail are some of the recent trends in the fashion industry. The rise of Blockchain and Metaverse has opened a gamut of opportunities with a promise to revolutionise the world of fashion. It is heartening to see renowned fashion brands heralding innovation and maximising customer experience via technology, thereby influencing the growth trajectory of the fashion industry.
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