What does a Fashion Designer do?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

While many people believe that a fashion designer is involved only in creating the idea for a new garment, the fact is that the designer is actively engaged in just about every aspect of the process of bringing new fashions to the attention of the public. Here are some examples of how fashion designers create new designs and see the vision become reality.

A fashion designer is involved in the creation of new styles from concept to completion.
A fashion designer is involved in the creation of new styles from concept to completion.

There is no doubt that the task of the fashion designer begins with creating the basic design. Fashion design initially begins in several ways. Some designers create storyboards with sketches of new ideas. Others prefer to work with a sewing dummy and begin to use various pieces of cloth to come up with a new design. During this phase of the creative process, the fashion designer is translating the vision that he or she has seen in the mind’s eye, and giving it some sort of outward expression. Often, the initial design is refined as the designer comes up with the first basic prototype.

Many fashion designers use a sewing dummy like this one when creating designs.
Many fashion designers use a sewing dummy like this one when creating designs.

Taking the sketches or the rough model of the new design and providing a more detailed working pattern is the next step for the fashion designer. This is achieved by making what is usually known as a toile. The toile is simply a rough model of the design, sewn from some basic material, such as calico. In the United States, the toile is often referred to as a muslin, perhaps because muslin fabric often is an inexpensive type of cloth to use in the creation of the rough model. Muslins are ideal for placing on a dress stand to make sure the design allows for properly draping and hanging on the human form.

Fashion designers create new clothing and styles.
Fashion designers create new clothing and styles.

Once the toile is considered to be perfect, the fashion designer will oversee the creation of a card pattern. This is simply all the sections of the garment made from cardboard, and assembled to ensure the pieces fit together properly. Once the designer approves the card pattern, the final task of the design process takes place, which is the creation of the finished garment.

Fashion designers often sketch out an idea before creating it.
Fashion designers often sketch out an idea before creating it.

Here, the fashion designer will make final selections in the choices of material, buttons, zippers, and all other elements of the garment. All the materials, including color selections, are provided to a competent dressmaker, along with the card pattern. Upon completion of the garment, the fashion designer will either approve the garment for showing in a collection, or choose to modify or abandon the design.

Fashion designers begin their work by stitching together a basic prototype.
Fashion designers begin their work by stitching together a basic prototype.

The fashion designer will also be heavily involved in the arrangements for a fashion showing, often selecting the models, arranging the presentation of the garments in the collection, and determining the final price for each garment. While most designers utilize assistants to handle many small details, the fashion designer usually retains full control of the process, from the initial vision to the first public presentation of the garment.

Fashion designers may focus on bridal gowns.
Fashion designers may focus on bridal gowns.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I'm 13 and I love going shopping with friends and looking at different clothing and how it's made. I love drawing and in my spare time I draw different bits of clothing.


I am a 58 year. old paraplegic who is developing a wedding gown design collection. Some are on paper, and some are in my head. My collection is based on the use of lace and the seasons. What would be the next step in my project?


I want to be a fashion designer. What is the starting age for fashion designing? I am 15.


I want to be a fashion designer. What is the starting age for fashion designing? I am 15.


My friend and I want to be fashion designers. We need some advice about how they come up with their ideas. We would love to meet a real designer to help us with our project. Thanks for the help! --designer girls.


Fashion design is not hard if you have a passion about it. You have to read a lot, practice and you'll be good. Just relax your mind and sketch often (once you get inspired). Sewing is important, and on and on. Enjoy it.


I want to became a fashion designer. My sketching and design ideas are good and I can also do work on a computer using Photoshop and Corel draw software. I think my creativity and talent are god-given. But now I am puzzled about where I can start my job. If anyone has any suggestions, please tell me.


A losing interest for style and a wish to home based can be a successful mixture. Not even a bad economic climate can stop the customer's wish to look and feel much better - and you can generate income by assisting them achieve that objective.

Whether you're fascinated just in footwear, have an interest in t-shirts, or just love style for all that it is worth, then you have the potential to be the next big business owner on the block!


I want to be a designer, but I don't know what subjects to choose. My gcses in art are terrible. I don't know why they put me in the top set. I'm crap at drawing but I'm good at designing?


I love sketching, but I'm not much of a designer and I have all these brilliant sketches in my head but they just don't go onto the paper. Is there a way I can be a better artist and bring my sketches to life?


I am in high school and just under 13. I am already choosing my GCSEs but I don't know what I should do for them and I have devoted my life to being a fashion designer and I have been designing since I was 7. I just hope I can be a fashion designer when I am older, but could you help me choose my GCSEs? Please.


I would really like to know where this information is gathered from, because this may be true for some companies but is definitely not the case for all. Which company is this specifically related to?


@LillyLoves27: I like your post. That's the same thing I'm wondering. I'm not a good drawer but have all the ideas in my head!


I would like to know if the fashion designer keeps a tab on the trends, analyses and then starts with his / her creation? Does market intelligence have an impact on the creativity ? Or is it just an artist's thought that may or may not click - without a scientific approach in comparison?


I'm thinking of becoming a fashion designer when I grow up. I like drawing clothes but not good in sewing. I only know very little sewing, but I want to be an overall fashion designer. When I was little, I didn't have fashion sense. But now I'm learning each day all about fashion. And about the sewing, please help me?


I'm 13 and I'm picking my GCSE choices and I'm really interested in fashion designing. I'm quite good at drawing but when i look at designers' drawings, mine aren't as good. i can't get the 3D women and get the clothes right and I'm not a very good sewer. i just know how to dress the dummies! what do i do?


I am a self taught fashion designer with two successful lines of utility kilts and accessories. I am currently moving to NYC because I was invited by the second largest fashion show in the country to be a contributing designer for "Dressed to Kilt, NYC 2011."

I am the exception to going to a fashion school. I have a natural ability, considered "a gift," by other designers. I promote and run my entire business along with my partner pretty much myself. It's possible but I am one in a million type of person.

Your chances of this happening to you without being able to draw, sew or a formal education background in fashion are about the same as winning the lottery. It almost never happens. If you can't sew, start now! Don't keep saying you can't sew. If you can't draw, start now, don't just keep saying you can't draw. There's no easy way to do this work. I work from 8 a.m. in the morning until 1 a.m. in the morning every day! No days off. None. No time to play, unless I'm promoting my line.

Brush up on your people skills too. There is no easy way into this world. You work, work, work. You have to have the passion for it, otherwise, you'll just be sitting there spinning your wheels and starving.


fashion design is for me like refreshing my mind.

it makes me feel free when i make something like a cloth bag or even draw a design.


i love to sew, i want to be a fashion designer and i am already in a training. how do i combine English and fashion design?


I want to be a fashion designer. Where should i start? I know drawing and a little sewing.


i hope to be a fashion designer but i don't know anything about it, even sewing. so can i still be a good fashion designer?


you say you got to do hard work. what kind of hard work will you have to face? is it something like studies? and do we have to be good at math? and what age is ideal to join any courses? I am 15. What do you suggest for me take?


Why do people think that you could just start designing. It's not that easy for a person like me to just start designing like that. Just give me a break.


you can't just sit there and start making clothes. You have to got to college and take a Fashion Textiles Diploma or A-Level, and some people even go on to university. Yes, this is a lot to do, but if you really want to be successful this is what is needed. I am currently on a fashion textiles course, and it's the hardest thing I have ever done.


i am 15 years old and i want to become a fashion designer, but i don't know what it takes to become one.


I'm a student of fashion design. Well, I just can share what I know with you guys. To become a fashion designer, you have to know how to sew at least the basic ones. If you don't like to sew, you can choose textile design or fashion merchandising, and if you can't draw it doesn't matter because nowadays they use a graphics computer to do it, but you have to know the basic sketch.

Then you need the passion for it, If you don't your have heart in it, I think you should find another career. You have to be hardworking and patient You need a strong heart to struggle with it. You have to sacrifice your time. If you can accept the above things, I'm sure you ready to start your dream to become a fashion designer.


I want to become a fashion designer, but i do not know how to sew nor draw. So what should i do?


What fashion designer thinks it is damn easy to work in it? It's very difficult. If people have hope in them that they will definitely do hard work on it, then they will definitely be successful. First people should do hard work on it then they will get their best result.


how do you pick fashions designs to do? i know how to sew and draw and do everything else but how do you get people to wear your clothes the way it should be? Because if you have a crazy fashion eye how do you get people to wear colors and the loudness of the clothes? what if they think it is ugly or not good enough and you give up fashion design?


if you are hoping to become a designer, a gcse in art/textiles is great and also a degree helps a lot. you don't need to be able to draw but basic skills are needed. however, which ever way you choose to portray your design is your choice. a sketch, a mood board even a rough garment. This industry is not easy. you have to be able to know what you want and know how to get it.


I am Tara and I am 17 and I love to design things but I can't seem to get started on the clothing. How should I start.


My name is callie and I'm 14 and i need to know what I need to be a fashion designer? I'm doing this research on how to become a fashion designer but i don't know what you need to become one, so can you please help me?


it seems like its easy but its darn right hard.


I'm sam. I'm 14 years old and i need to know how to become a fashion designer. I already know fashion so I think you can help.


seems fun and easy.


if you are working toward becoming a fashion designer will you have to know how to sew?


i would like to know if i could design clothes despite being not so good in drawing?


I recommend you check out the Bob Martin blog. His designer blog is titled "the success of drawing." It may change your thinking on whether you need to really draw to be a fashion designer


Can you still be a fashion designer if you are not a good drawer but, have all of the ideas in your head?


If you want to be a fashion designer but you can only draw the designs and not actually make it is that OK?


Dear sir/madam,

i would like to know, when we draw a rough sketch with the help of a pencil on a sheet of paper, can we fill it with crayons or pencil colours?

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