• Vyy Bui

CAREER PATHWAYS IN FASHION | P1: DESIGN DEGREE

Fashion, as I usually say, is energetic and full of color. You do not necessarily have to be a designer, or stylist, or model, or art director to be in this industry. When you uncover every aspect of fashion, you will realize that it’s a vast world with many sub-career options.


As long as you are passionate about it, you will certainly be part of it. There are many students who ask me about the job positions in this industry, then let’s discover your options for the fashion career!


(Part 1: below are popular career options for students studying fashion design.)


1. Fashion designer


Perhaps this is a career that we most often think of when it comes to the word “fashion”. Fashion designers are artists who bring life to outfits. A real designer will always communicate complex and layered ideas in every single one of their work.

IMAGE: Inthefrow

As a fashion designer, you can choose a specialty such as womenswear, menswear, sportswear, childrenswear or lingerie…, depending on each person’s character and interests. In this career, designers need a lot of stamina to keep their creativity consistent and make changes and differences throughout collections. Coming up with ideas, sketching, digital drafting, developing designs on mannequins, choosing materials and building the model are all frequent tasks of ‘fashion designers’. With products related to sewing productions, building a model will require a specialist team. But if you are following the fashion design path, you still need the basic skills to communicate with your team, to fix small details when they don’t line up with your sketch. Apart from that, a fashion designer also needs to know about visuals to base their concept on and the atmosphere of their collection photoshoots. Having an art director does not necessarily exclude the fact that the designer of the outfit has the most understanding of the outfit and knows exactly what they want to convey to the public. Only from there can the advertising and photography team do their job correctly. All in all, as a designer, you will need skills other than idea brainstorming.


Designers often work closely with:

- Trend forecasters.

- Textile designers.

- Fabric experts.

- Production managers.

- Creative directors.

- Sewing craftsmen.


2. Design assistant

IMAGE: Inthefrow

As the assistant to a fashion designer, you serve as their companion on the journey of completing a collection. The skills of a design assistant have some overlap with the assistant themself: expertise in fashion design, knowledge of sewing, an aesthetic eye on color and trends… Your job may include sketching outfits based on the collection theme, working on the outfit development, building a draft model or preparing materials for production. Aside from that, you also need time organization skills to track the collection’s developmental progress and assist your designer when needed. With some brands, design assistants also help manage work related to producing photography for the collection. After doing this work for a while, many people will open their own personal brand after getting enough experience.


Design assistants often work closely with:

- Designers.

- Production managers.

- Creative directors.

- Textile designers.



3. Textile designer

IMAGE: Cosmopolitan Korea

Textile designers are known as the powerful right hand of designers and fashion brands. Their job is the culmination of designing details and patterns on fabric and processing surfaces such as printing and sewing… From lumpy, fibrous surfaces to ink and dye details, textile design requires a lot of time and skill. The majority of textiles in fashion are the product of hand work and include a highly experimental aspect. Likewise, you need a holistic knowledge on different types of materials, not just sewing fabric but also yarn, PVC, cotton,...


Textile designers work closely with:

- Designers.

- Sewing craftsmen.

- Graphic designers.

- Fashion illustrators.


4. Pattern maker


Pattern cutters/graders are people who have deep expertise in sewing. For fashion design students, not everyone will find this subject difficult. Students with skill or are passionate about pattern making will truly love this line of work. Who knows, one of them may be you. As a pattern cutter, you need to be logical about surfaces and can work your way around computer aided design (CAD). Before creating your model, you need to discuss in great detail and efficiency the structure of the outfit with designers and adjust the sizes to fit the client. Students who are passionate about pattern making can also be educators about them, opening classes for other fashion design students.

IMAGE: Eunice J.Dunmade

Pattern cutters work closely with:

- Fashion designers.

- Sewing craftsmen.

- Graphic designers.


5. Nhà diễn hoạ thời trang

Fashion illustrator


IMAGE: Chris Pack

Fashion illustrators are also a powerful workforce for fashion designers. For designers who are not great at illustration but still need proper, clean and final designs, to collaborate with sewing and photography producers, advertisers… they will need to seek out skilled illustrators to convey their idea in the clearest way. For people who love fashion, having an aesthetic eye and decent drawing skills will be fit for the work of an illustrator in the world of fashion. As the person in charge of recreating existing designs, you will feel more connected to fashion and art. Your job is to draw and draw, because to be a fashion illustrator you do not necessarily need a designer mindset but you should understand the basics of the body, clothing structures, material and color to convey the ideas of the designer into illustration.


Fashion illustrators work closely with:

- Fashion designers.

- Visual merchandisers.

- Graphic designers.



6. Fashion production manager

IMAGE: Paule Ka

For fashion brands, people in charge of production management will take complete care of the output product quality. They are the people who directly collect materials for the collection and coordinate the progress for sewing productions such as sewing, building the model and accessories (shoes, bags, earrings) with the highest cohesion possible. With this job, knowledge on design and outfit and accessory structure is of utmost importance, because production managers need to make sure the product is closest to the original design. Aside from this, production management also decides the efficacy or sustainability of the product. They need to have solid finance knowledge to manage the collection’s budget. In some brands, the production manager and designer can be the same person.


Production managers work closely with:

- Sewing craftsmen.

- Fashion designers.

- Workshop managers.

- Accessory workshops.



7. Costume designer


Costume design is a line of work that many students adore and care about. Those are designers who provide costumes for theatre, balls or festivals. They need to have a solid grasp on the themes, character personalities, event concepts, and plays to come up with a precise design. In other words, you manage the wardrobe of movie or theatre sets, large or small. To get into this line of work, you will need knowledge on form, material, styling and contextual studies. You are largely responsible for the visual identity of the character, if you do not truly understand the historical context and script, as well as societal influences on fashion, you may not be up for this job.


Costume designers work closely with:

- Cinemas/theatres/TV stations/stages/event planners…

- Sewing craftsmen.

- Fabric experts.

- Wardrobe assistants.

IMAGE: Dior


8. Accessories designer


Accessory designers are responsible for coming up with ideas and developing designs for jewelry, bags, headwear, belts, gloves, scarves, elements used to accentuate the outfit. Throughout your design studies, you will realise that your inclination is not entirely to clothes but to create heavy collections of accessories, removable details. To do well in this job, you need knowledge on different styles, trends as well as aesthetic values and materials. From there on do fashion accessory designers bring a complete look to the set. This is one of the most important careers in fashion, which has been proven time and time again, that an outfit can be upgraded with accessories. Those are things that are adorned for all genders.

IMAGE: Schiaparelli


Accessory designers work closely with:

- Fashion designers.

- Trend forecasters.

- Graphic designers.

- Accessory workshops.

- Stylists.


9. Fashion stylist


The Styling career is frequent among fashion advertising and fashion marketing students, because it heavily relates to photographic design. However, in my opinion, the work of a stylist is also wholly appropriate with design students. If you have some expertise in fashion design, it is a huge benefit when you gather rich and in-depth knowledge on styles, forms, accessories, photo concepts and body types. Because after some education about fashion design, there are people who realize they would rather style outfits rather than create them from scratch. Gaining such experience in design will help a stylist be extremely competent in managing outfits for brand advertising. During the process of coming up with design projects, experience with managing photoshoots will ease your process of working with photography teams. The majority of designers will also be stylists for their own work. In a way, fashion is an energetic and flexible field because you can be in multiple positions at the same time.

IMAGE: Anine Bing

Stylists work closely with:

- Fashion designers.

- Photographers.

- Influencers.

- Creative directors.

- Makeup artists.

- Brand managers.

















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