How to Be a Fashion Designer
By Donald Pang
To be or not to be a fashion designer is a tough choice. Fashion designers are not people you get introduced to all the time. And successful fashion designers are usually too busy or too secretive to share how they got the job. So it can be a dilemma on whether you should take the plunge and invest a small fortune on an unknown future.
No rewarding career in life is ever made to be simple. Fashion design is no exception. Famous designers work extremely hard for their fame and money. But one thing is for sure – if you plan from the start to dedicate yourself, half the battle is won.
Many professionals in the fashion industry will readily agree that fashion students nowadays think that they deserve a paycheck without “paying their dues.” What dues, you ask? Most of them might sound like modern-day slavery. This includes frequent 18-hour work days; weekends spent at work; fetching coffee for the entire department; and being criticized and picked on constantly by co-workers.
Yes, the horror stories you see on reality TV are true. Some of them at least. In a creative industry, anything can happen. So be prepared for it.
Still want to be a fashion designer come hell or rain?
Here are three mantras you should memorize:
1) Your portfolio is your design identity
Just like how celebrity models value their looks and work on maintaining their charm, you have to do the same for your portfolio. Future employers and the public are going to judge you based on your skill to design fabulous pieces. And your portfolio is going to show them exactly what you are capable of.
No matter how hard you work, procrastination can be really hard to beat sometimes. So the best way to get the most versatile fashion design portfolio would be to enroll for a fashion course. Being in school will force you to leave your comfort zones. With the right training and dedication, results are often impressive.
2) Understand why people dress the way they do
The Japanese have their kimonos, the Indians have their saris, and the Chinese have their cheongsams. Even though global fashion is now mainly influenced by top fashion cities like Paris, New York, and London, people around the world still dress differently. A true fashion designer has the EQ to understand what customers want and need.
Are people feeling warm in tropical climates? Do others need to cover up for religious reasons? What kind of jobs do they have? Are your designs simplistic yet stylish enough to be worn every day?
When it comes to fashion psychology, the variables are endless. Yes, you may argue that it is more fun to design for haute couture. But in reality, fashion is more of a business than an art. Even the rich from the highest echelons are still humans. One of the best ways to grow as a fashion designer is to create clothes for everyday people.
The exciting bit about fashion is that it changes every day. So no two days will ever be exactly the same.
3) Find a good fashion school
It can make all the difference in your life. Good schools have the facilities you need. And they also hire lecturers who are well-connected within the industry. Have plans to be an international fashion designer? Consider enrolling into an international school. This allows you to meet many sorts of people from around the world. And it can help you learn a bit more about understanding people like mentioned earlier.
While in school, you will work on assignments necessary to build the best portfolio before you graduate. You will make your own fashion collections, sketch your best designs, and pay homage by studying about the various designs and designers that made fashion history. A fashion design student’s life is nothing short of colorful and exciting.
If you feel that your country may be too conservative for full creative expression, an alternative is to study fashion abroad. Countries like Australia and Singapore are ideal for an English-speaking environment and career opportunities after graduation.
Feeling adventurous? Studying in developing nations can help you save money on craft materials. Not to mention, countries with strong manufacturing industries allow you to build a contact list of reliable suppliers. This will come in handy when you want to start your own label. Living costs in a developing nation is also less costly, so you spend less on your overall education. Countries like China, Thailand, and Sri Lanka can offer you this experience.
Want to find out more about studying fashion design abroad?
Everyone’s case is unique and we want to give the best advice that works for you. To ensure quality education every semester, there are limited seats in Raffles. And they are filling up fast! Need more information? Fill up an enquiry form and an experienced Education Consultant will provide you with a free consultation.
Donald, International Admissions Director of Raffles Education Corporation, a leading education provider in Asia Pacific operating 36 fashion design colleges across 33 cities in 13 countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Sri Lanka & Indonesia). Certifications such as Advanced Diploma, Bachelor and Master Degrees are also offered for various design disciplines such as visual communication, animation, multimedia, interior design, product design, jewellery design, biomedical, infocomm security and early childhood.
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