Fashioning a career

Do you love shopping? Do you enjoy reading fashion magazines?

Well, you may love clothes but the truth is clothing is only part of the story of being a fashion designer.  Being a successful fashion designer not only requires talent and creativity, it also requires a sound knowledge of the business and marketing aspects of the fashion world.

Fashion designing is a creative process, where an idea is executed step by step from inception to completion in a profitable way to turn your idea into a reality. It is an artistic science and mind you, you can learn the craft i.e. science of fashion but not the art. This is the main reason why only very few students from fashion schools become successful designers. However, there are ample avenues and career options to choose from in the field of fashion (Fashion buyers, merchandisers, visual merchandisers, fashion consultants, illustrators, pattern cutters, garment and fabric technologists, quality controllers, graders, sample machinists, sales people, PR and marketing people, fashion journalists, retailers, event organizers, stylists and fashion model).

As a designer you must understand how fabrics move, drape, breathe, react when worn, etc. Your in-depth knowledge of fabric is absolutely essential to using it properly when designing. You must have an eye for details; you should also keep in mind the market trends, sourcing of raw materials, time involved, feasibility and profitability while designing. You should know your customers and your competitors. Study how much your customers spend, what their lifestyles are and always keep an eye on what other fashion designers in your area of interest are doing. Be realistic, it’s pointless trying to sell haute couture to people who only want career clothing. You’ll need to focus on where your market is most likely to be and either work out how to get the distribution from your current area to the place where it’s most likely to sell.

A designer must also have a good communication skill and computer skills. Today, social media plays a vital role in brand building, marketing and selling of a design. Do consider the power of online selling. One must actively communicate with their customers to know and understand what they want. Computer aided designs are increasingly used in the fashion world and therefore designers must have the ability to use this technology.

Advice for aspiring fashion designers

  1. Decide which designing field is your principal interest; Men’s wear, Women’s wear or Kid’s wear? Haute couture, ready-to-wear, ethnic wear, western wear or sportswear, the mass market or niches? Each has advantages and disadvantages that you’ll need to explore before reaching your final decision on which pathway to pursue.
  2. Create a good design portfolio; it will be vital when applying to design jobs and internships, as it is your chance to market yourself and your work. Your portfolio should display your best work, and highlight your skills and creativity.
  3. Apply for an internship with accomplished fashion designers. Interns are often given menial tasks initially but the connections you make through your internship will be vital as you pursue your career in fashion, and working with industry professionals will give you an opportunity to pick up important skills first-hand.

Becoming a fashion designer will require a lot of you. The world of fashion craves new and exciting designs. Be original, dare-to-be –different!Many covet fashion designing jobs while only few attain the success they seek. Being creative is not enough you also need to be business savvy to be a successful fashion designer.

Omi Gurung

Omi Gurung

Omi Gurung is a well known green Indian fashion designer, writer and green activist. He describes himself as a dare devil with quicksilver tongue and maverick mind; who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is the founder of a social group Oh My India and owner of Sikkim's first eco boutique Green Gangtok. At a young age of 23, he worked as a fashion editor for a magazine run by Shakti Media Group in Bangalore. He enjoys writing on fashion and lifestyle and social issues. At present he also writes a regular column for Sikkim Insight.