A career in fashion designing

In India until a few decades ago, if you told someone you are a fashion designer, you were looked upon as a glorified seamstress; “Acha! Like our mohalle ka darzi (roadside tailor)?” But not many knew back then that fashion designing is at a much higher level than simply stitching clothes for customers.

What is fashion designing and why should you be interested in it? It is art that involves creation of clothing and accessories that make up an individual’s lifestyle. It could either be ready to wear (which are custom made and suitable for all) and haute coutre (meant for privileged customers). With the rise of fashion e-commerce companies like Myntra, Jabong, Voonik and Limeroad, fashion designers are quite in demand. Besides, domestic fashion hubs are doing extremely well, giving a push to creative designers. Above all, globalization ensures that Indian fashion design is not restrictive but in demand across the globe. Indian designers like Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, Ritu Kumar have become global icons in the fashion world. The next one could be YOU!

 Work Options That Open Up for a Fashion Designer:

Fashion designing is a dynamic career option. It is not everyone’s cup of tea as it requires much more than simply drawing sketches and designing clothes for the elite market. It requires a keen eye for design and following/unfollowing trends in design.  Besides, if you have it in you, then you can earn quite an impressive amount and become popular. For those who wondered what the career prospects are after a course in fashion designing, here are some. This is not an exhaustive list, but meant to give you an idea of an array of jobs that open up for you when you decide to pursue this as a profession.

  • Working with boutiques
  • Have your own garment shop/firm
  • Work with textile export house
  • Intern with a renowned fashion designer and gradually become one yourself
  • Design jewelry and accessories, including footwear
  • Work with industrial designers
  • Become a personal stylist for a prominent public personality
  • Teach in a fashion institute

How Do I Get There? The Gateway:

It’s quite unfortunate that with so much on offer, this profession was not given the respect it deserved until some decades ago. However, times have changed now and fashion designing as a course is no longer frowned upon. So how do you get into the world of glamour? Here are some institutes that offer you the entrance:

The institute that tops the list in India is the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi. It has branches in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. This is followed by Pearl Academy in Rajouri Garden, New Delhi. Amity University also offers a course in fashion technology and so does Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune. All of these are premier institutes in India that offer courses to help you pursue a career in the world of fashion.  For those willing to study abroad, UK, London, is the hub and home to many fashion institutes. There are also institutes in Spain, Italy (Milan), France, the US (Chicago and New York) that have churned out many fashion enthusiasts. 

The Course: What’s In It for Students?

Students normally pursue a graduation course in fashion designing or fashion technology to get started. Here are some ways they proceed through the course. This is not the only method followed across all courses but this is to give a fair idea of how a fashion designer gets moulded.

  • They enter the world of textiles to understand the varieties, basics about fabrics and how to use computer aided design (CAD) to create the visuals they have in mind.  Designers research current trends in the industry and predict possible future trends. 
  • They either sketch or work with a computer (CAD) to see how their creations look on virtual models. If required, they make alterations/modifications where necessary. 
  • They work on projects to showcase their creativity which they add to their portfolio. Creating a portfolio is very essential for a budding fashion designer because that gives the employers a peek into their creativity.
  • While pursuing the course, students visit manufacturers or trade shows to get a fair idea about the variety of fabrics and their samples. 
  • Sometimes students work with designers to get a feel of how things work in the fashion arena. This way they also get to oversee the entire production process of their designs. This can be very exciting for a first timer. 
  • Students also participate in contests where they are able to showcase their creations and make a mark of their own. These are important stepping stones to their future career prospects.

Pros of a Career in Fashion Designing: 

As with any other career option, fashion designing has its fair share of pros and cons. The Good news first!

  1. You are your own boss: if you really have the zeal and the creativity it takes, then you can make this into a business opportunity. You can start your own brand from a scratch and no longer bother about working from 9—5.
  2. Earn a handsome amount: Creativity is unique to every individual and in the fashion industry; you get a huge margin on every product you create on your own and sell. Even if you are not the owner and choose to work under someone, the salary is pretty decent.
  3. What do you need at the end of the day? Yup! Job Satisfaction: And you get dollops of that! If you are ready to put in your all in your work, it certainly is worth every penny it sells for. And when you see people raving about it, you are obviously on the highest seat of satisfaction. Today, many individuals are stuck in a rut, working mechanically. On the contrary you are at a place where your heart is; lucky you!
  4. Fun, fun and more fun! Creativity is new, its fun! And there is no limit to what you can create. Gradually you extend your creative touch to everything you see and that’s how your scope expands…what fun! And Limitless at that!
  5. Travel and networking: If you love to travel, you’ve landed at the right place. And if you are good at networking, then that’s a bonus. With a career in fashion designing, you will be able to travel across the globe as your clients could be based anywhere. You could be part of fashion shows where you can rub shoulders with celebrities too! You can start networking and improve your career prospects! 
  6. Say bye to boredom: This is one profession where there is no scope for boredom because you get to do so much with so many different kinds of people. Besides, you keep working on new projects from time to time so where is the time to get bored? 

Cons of Career in Fashion designing:

Ok…while reading the pros if you’ve already made up your mind to launch yourself into the world of fashion design, here’s a word of caution. There are some negatives too, that you must be aware of.

  1. Erratic work hours: Of course, you can be your own boss and work on your own terms, but sometimes this could work against you because there are no fixed working hours. When situation demands and deadlines mount, you might need to work with minimal break.
  2. Learn to accept criticism: Fashion world is not polite. Criticisms abound and are sometimes quite harsh. When you dress up a supermodel who’s attending a very popular show or a red carpet, while some may appreciate your out-of-the-box thinking, others may think it’s trash and troll you online and offline. You need to be ready to face that.
  3. Take care not to get too stressed: In a career like this, where work is continuous, at some point in your career you may feel you have stagnated. This is more to do with the stress building up in certain situations (say, a bulk order to be turned around in minimal time). At such times, it is important to keep calm and not let the stress build up. 

What Does It Take to be a Fashion Designer?

A good fashion designer is born with some skills who is then moulded to acquire more. You should have a good knowledge of textiles and fabrics and an eye for fashion (of course!). You should also be aware of what’s trending and what’s not. Besides, your designs must be original and innovative. Good networking and communication skills are the other pluses; you need to understand the pulse of the people you design for, right? Needless to say, you must have a good sense of color and color combinations and an eye for detail. Designers could work independently and in groups, so quick and effective decision making skills are a must, especially where working on bulk orders are concerned.

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Having gone through it all, if you think you are cut out for it, then start your groundwork. Look for fashion designers or fashion influencers online, follow them, look up designs, start following trends, start dreaming….because as Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” 

-Janaki Sreenivasan

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We hope this article helped you become familiar with careers in fashion designing. You can reach out and have a free chat with our experts at Hikewise for personalised support and advice on how to build a successful career ahead.

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