Fashion designers create clothing, footwear and accessories such as handbags, hats and belts. A fashion designer's duties may include sketching designs, selecting fabrics and overseeing the construction of garments. Additionally, they frequently collaborate with other designers, sales representatives, management executives and clients. As appealing as working in the fashion industry sounds to many, it is a highly competitive field. Only about 21,000 jobs for fashion designers exist in the United States, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Types of Jobs
Most fashion designers begin their careers as assistant designers, pattern makers, sketching assistants or interns. Many types of businesses hire entry-level fashion designers. Some of the top industries to employ designers include apparel wholesalers and manufacturers, specialized design services and performing arts companies. Wholesale and manufacturing companies make clothing lines, footwear and accessories in large quantities to sell to retailers.
Getting the First Job
Although a degree isn't required for a person to succeed in this field, two- and four-year programs in fashion design are available. In addition to offering students an opportunity to learn about sketching, constructing garments and forecasting trends, a degree program also might offer students a chance to network with others in the industry. Regardless of whether aspiring fashion designers attend a school for fashion design, it is important that they build a portfolio. Portfolios may include photographs of garment samples and fashion design artwork. Students and other aspiring designers also can gain experience and recognition by entering amateur contests and fashion shows.
Most entry-level fashion designers find jobs in large cities. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, nearly three-fourths of all salaried fashion designers in the United States generally work in either New York or California. Fashion designers also find employment globally. London, Milan, Barcelona, Paris and Madrid are some of the biggest fashion cities in the world, according to a study by Global Language Monitor.
With so many people interested in pursuing a career in fashion, it can be difficult to find an entry-level job. According to the OOH, the fashion design field was expected to see little or no growth from 2010 to 2020. Specialized design firms were projected to see a growth of 40 percent during this time frame, while designers in the manufacturing industry were forecast to see a loss of 58 percent.
Diana Vancura is a writer with work published in books and e-books by Cengage Learning and Greenhaven Press. She is studying English and psychology at the University of Massachusetts.