BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER: THE UNTOLD TRUTH
You Want to be a Fashion Designer?
life of FASHION DESIGNER, Here’s the untold truth of what it’s like a day-to-day week to week, month-to-month.
If I had to do it all over again I would but there are so many misconceptions. from what you see on Project Runway to what you see on TV compared to what it’s actually like.
Which is why I writing this article. The number one reason most designers still love their job. Even though it’s not as glamorous as it may seem. You don’t learn in fashion school and college. A lot of peoples don’t talk about this stuff.
Fashion Industry Secrets Revealed
Let’s dig in what is the average day, week or month look like from the design through the development cycle for a fashion designer.
The big overview it’s a pretty typical Three-step process of what you might expect.
It’s what goes on inside of each of these steps where things start to get really interesting. Where the process starts to vastly differ from what you see on TV and in Project Runway now quick disclaimer.
Whether you’re working in a Small brand V/S a Large brand. some of the timelines as well as whose jobs some of these tasks may be is going to vary. This is a global overview of what the general process looks like and what the responsibilities of a fashion designer are.
Step 1: Inspiration
It’s a pretty fun phase you get to spend a lot of time shopping. hanging out on Pinterest, looking for colors, fabrics, trims, prints, construction details, gathering all the inspiration for what you want to put into the next collection during this inspiration process.
You may be putting together mood boards for things like style or things like color. That are gonna drive the assortment maybe something like this and like this, but there’s also a lot of stuff in this process. That is not super creative and not exactly. What you might want to hear, knocking off other designers happens all the time. You’ll also be taking a lot of Creative direction,Design directors, Sales team, Marketing departments. everybody wants to give their opinion during the design and inspiration phase.
You also have to do a lot of analysis of what sold well in past seasons. Looking at sales reports and seeing what items performed V/S which ones didn’t is going to give you a good idea as to what styles should be introduced for upcoming collections. Now I know some of this may not sound as glamorous or creative as you might want it to be but I promise there is a number one reason. Why being a designer is so magical?
Now during the inspiration phase you may do some light hand sketching. These aren’t going to be any fancy fashion illustration. I’m talking rough sketches to just get some general concepts on paper. Now if you’re not a ham sketcher that’s okay. I’m not either I say this because it be part of the process but it doesn’t have to be the other thing.
You may not have thought about when it comes to the inspiration process is that most of the time. The designs you’re going to be creating are gonna be very commercial. They’re not going to be conceptual and this is a misconception that a lot of people have who aren’t familiar with the industry or design students who come straight out of fashion school.
Here’s the thing runway designs do not sell designers put garments on the runway. That are artsy they are conceptual, They are meant to catch your attention, They are meant to grab the mediaattention, They are for marketing and advertising and publicity. Most of the time these designs these really fancy artistic things. That people fall so in love with they don’t go into production, they don’t go to market, they’re not actually ever even made for sale
Most of the time When you’re working as a designer. You’re designing commercial products. These are everyday clothes for everyday people. So once you’ve gathered all this inspiration. You’ve analyzed past sales. You’ve reviewed input from different departments. You’ve gotten an inspiration from what other brands are doing. You may even gotten inspiration in the form of knocking off. What other brands are doing, it happens all the time.
STEP 2: DESIGN
Now during the design phase you may continue on with some of the rough ham sketches that you had from your initial inspiration phase. Most the time you’re gonna start hashing out ideas in Adobe Illustrator. Drawing what are called flats? don’t be surprised. If at this stage you spend something like 20 or more hours per week sketching designs in Illustrator.
You’re gonna be mocking out tons of different variations and all the different color options printing them out and assembling them in cork boards like this. This is what a design board looks like in real life and throughout the season. You’ll take styles off. You’ll add new styles, you’ll continually be making adjustments to the fashion flats.
In Illustrator printing out new ones and moving them around on these boards like paper dolls until. You finalize the collection, you’ll also look at fabric options and trim options and finalize the colors and every single detail about the garment. Once the collections been finalized. You may put together finished design boards for each style. That looks something like this here’s one and here’s one the little swatches of fabric are references for what fabric quality is being used for that style?
Once the design boards are finalized and every style has all of its details.
STEP 3: PRODUCTION
Now the first stage for production is putting together tech packs. It’s the blueprint to give the factory so they know how to make your garment.
It’s a set of instructions you’ll send these type packs out to various factories to source each style. You’ll need to get back information like pricing, minimum order quantity, What the turn around and lead time is for each factory to create this garment for you.
Once the factory for each garment is picked. you’ll go into sampling and production. This stage is all about follow up follow up follow up and tracking tracking. You may work with various software. You may work with a ton of spreadsheet but the bottom line is you have to know. What every piece of every part of every garment? What the status is at any given time and you need to make sure that things are on track to meet your deadlines.
I used to have a boss who at any given moment would come over and ask me what’s the status of this button. This hang tag, this label, this fabric and she would expect me to know off the top of my head. What the status if anything was at any given time. Now mind you I was working on something between 24 to 36 different styles. It was a lot to keep track of so you have to be super organized during this stage.
The factory will send you submits for every little piece and part of the garment. That has to be approved. You may get two different color options and you’ve got a pic and tell the factory. Which one to use yarn colors first contrast stitching and design details interior labels and exterior heat seals. You need to approve these and make sure that the hand feel.
How they are to the touch is good that, The text is all spelled right that ,there’s no mistakes, that everything’s the right size. you have to communicate and approve all of these things with the factory and make sure that they’re submitted on time.
So that your development process goes smoothly. You’ll also receive real-life garments for prototypes and fit samples. That you need to fit on a fit model make sure they’re constructed well make sure.
Once everything is approved every little piece of every little garment. The factory starts production and while they’re busy doing production. You get started on the next season, gather inspiration from the competition, review sales history to see.
What makes sense to introduce again? Start sketching tons of flats in Adobe Illustrator create tech packs to send to the factories. manage product development again. While this is not as glamorous as it looks in the movies and in TV. you’re not frolicking in fabric all day .The number one reason designers love doing this kind of work. The thing that keeps us going day after day even when it’s stressful. even when it’s high pressure. even when it’s super competitive is that seeing that finished garment there is nothing like it in the world seeing it.
Hanging on a rack in a clothing store in New York City. Seeing your design on a model in a magazine. That never gets old even opening that box .When bulk production arrives and seen that finished garment in your own hands. It is a priceless feeling so well yes you will spend a lot of time on the computer gathering inspiration.
You’ll spend a lot of time sketching fashion flats and Adobe Illustrator, you’ll spend a lot of time creating tech packs in Microsoft Excel or some other industry software.you’ll spend a lot of time tracking and following up. The entire development process but the excitement of seeing something that went from a digital sketch to a real-life physical garment. There is just nothing like it in the globe.
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