As someone with an intense passion about Fashion, you may have asked yourself this question: what does this major need? What skills do I need to learn? How should I prepare? In today’s article, I will share with you some skills that I think are crucial to become a Fashion Designer or if you are thinking of studying this field!
1. THE ABILITY TO CREATE & AN ARTISTIC INCLINATION
Creativity is never easy, especially when you’re pursuing any art field. You don’t just need creativity, you need novelty and relevance. Almost any major fashion designer, when releasing a collection, will strive to bring something that is revolutionary, groundbreaking and never done before. This ambition is not a one-way street, as anyone who appreciates the collection will expect the same.
When pursuing fashion design, you need a creative mind to analyze modern fashion trends and combine your personal research to “invent”. Not having ideas does not mean you don’t have creative strength. This is almost inevitable to any artist and provides opportunities to learn about oneself. Don’t feel discouraged too quickly about your creative abilities! Many fashion designers had other artistic jobs such as architecture, graphic design and others before switching to fashion. There are creative skills that some learn better than others very quickly, and some that they are born with. However, learning and practicing from proper education can help you elevate your skills.
In order to make something of themselves, designers relentlessly hone their skills every day. They need to constantly update themselves on their field, on trends and competitors. Aside from this, your creative strength has to have a personal touch. If you don’t create something that’s exclusively you, then it’s not really creativity.
However, repetition of ideas also occurs by accident on many occasions, though this is as natural as science’s natural selection. I have delineated the differences between accidental repetition and plagiarism. So, you should firmly believe that if you truly have passion and curiosity then your creative abilities will be enriched every day.
2. THE ABILITY TO OBSERVE
The majority of major designers or fashion design students have one thing in common: they are highly meticulous. With some people, it’s a trait they’re born with but with others, it’s something to be learnt with time.
Details in fashion have an intimate connection with the creative aspect of every single item of clothing. If you don’t pay close attention to the details in your life or the concept that you choose, it will be hard to come up with interesting, unique features as creative materials. A fashion designer needs to possess a certain degree of sensitivity with details because for this field, “God is in the details" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. You need to practice the ability to observe to make out these details, no matter how small or trivial they may seem. Even if it’s the colors, patterns, sewing design or the makeup look on the model, a fashion designer needs to observe and adjust these details to create a desired and attainable aesthetic.
When your observation skills bear limits, you will become someone who is very particular about your work. Not only will you observe to create new elements to your collection but also to complete unfinished works and polish them further.
3. FASHION ILLUSTRATION & RENDERING YOUR SKETCHES
When studying fashion design, I always tell people that you don’t need to be exemplary at drawing and you don’t need to fret over your drawing abilities. However, being able to communicate your ideas is still an important factor in creating a fashion collection. Your strokes need to have an appropriate balance that follows the general proportions of the human body. You don’t have to go too much into detail; you can sketch freely and generously but you have to keep in mind what the sketch will look like in real life. That is the ability to render your drawings.
In addition, rendering has implications for how you choose images that inspire the concept. In the article “Steps to create a fashion collection”, I have carefully mentioned a collection of images that describe your inspiration as creative materials. If they are nice pictures, their quality will be the deciding factor for the visual of the collection and vice versa. To me, every skill that has to do with image processing can not be perfected from the beginning. To get the artist’s eye and to discern the finer details, imagine elaborate work and idealize the shapes and forms, you need to practice. Personally, I have tried and tried again to get a sharper eye when selecting images. This process will continue as long as I pursue this career, even when I’ve become a grown adult. At any moment, our perception of images will change based on the market and the consumer behavior.
I will not analyze in detail illustration skills because trust me, it’s not the deciding factor in becoming an excellent designer! You can illustrate traditionally or digitally, but choose the method that works the best for you! In the beginning I would do traditional sketches but when my schedule got packed, my A3 sketchbook was too heavy to carry everywhere. I switched to using Procreate on an IPad, which was the best investment I’ve made since studying fashion design.
4. MATERIAL KNOWLEDGE
As a fashion designer, this is an extremely important skill because it will determine whether your outfit will match the drawing or not. If you choose the wrong material, there are many unfortunate incidents that can happen such as: incorrect form; tone deviation; structural and proportional mistakes… Each material you choose needs to match the personality of the collection and needs to really show that look. For example, if your design has a big, sturdy shape, the material should also be thick and if it's still not enough, you need to press more lining or squiggles, spare parts, etc.
Knowing how to choose and use a variety of fabrics is paramount to success as a fashion designer. You must understand the different textures and how they work together, the potential challenges of working with certain fabrics, the durability of the fabric, and a sustainable, non-harmful fabric sourcing. Here are some popular fabrics on the market:
Velvet, silk, silk, satin, glossy, silk
5. SEWING SKILLS
When working as a Fashion Designer, you are not required to sew all the collections by yourself because not everyone has a penchant for sewing and this does not determine your success. However, sewing skills are still extremely important and when studying this industry you should take advantage of the opportunity to experience. The more you stamp and sew by yourself, the more you will understand the structure of the garment, which will greatly help your creative process later. Besides, it also makes you more practical and does not create designs that cannot be sewn. Thereby, you need to grasp the basic knowledge of proportions, product textures and body movements.
I am personally in awe of students who are gifted in sewing. In my learning process, I too needed help from them because sewing is not one of my greater strengths. I still try my hardest in this area but it takes up too much of my time. Because of this, I try to get a headstart on sewing projects in anticipation of unexpected faults that will occur. I hope that in the future I can continue to work on my sewing skills and learn to love it more. Even though it’s wearisome, you will still want to experience it if you really love fashion design. Aside from that, hand sewing is also crucial because not every single detail on the clothes can be produced by a machine. Because of this, you need to be flexible with your methods. Sometimes, the result of handmade sewing will be far more exquisite.
In the future, when you have your own production team, you do not necessarily need to sew each item, but you still need to follow the schedules and examine the quality most thoroughly. You need to understand sewing to be able to convey your ideas clearly to your specialists.
6. SOCIAL SKILLS & TEAMWORK
Any fashion designer needs to be able to communicate well in order to grow their brand. In your entire career, you will have opportunities to be a part of a design team or lead one by yourself. When working in groups, discuss your research and ideas instead of waiting for a command. Listening in patience and respecting one another is key to effective cooperation. You’re not building the collection by yourself, after all. You need to keep an open mind with other people’s opinions and contributions to different areas and elevate them to the main designs.
For design students, projects may be done individually but explaining and communicating to professors and others is key to their success. There are many instances where students cannot convey the message of their designs so their grade may not be up to expectations. Because the visual world of each person is different, if you don’t communicate or present well, the collection may not live up to its full potential no matter how beautiful your designs and images are. Fashion design doesn’t end at images and products, it’s also professional work done by members participating in the project. In the learning process, you also need the help from your loved ones because there are many unnamed and trivial tasks to expect. This is an opportunity to hone these skills.
7. BUSINESS THINKING
Design is a career that demands creativity but also requires some degree of business knowledge. You will need to learn how to manage financial books, execute marketing strategies and be competent in profiting off your collection.
When you are a student, you can freely create the wackiest outfits that have that runway look. But when building a career, the commercial aspect cannot be overlooked. How can an item of clothing be sellable but still be unique? This is a question that has vexed and perplexed countless designers. Your creative strength can be more sophisticated if you become a costume or performance designer. Business thinking is paramount so almost every course on Fashion Design will teach you market trends and creating a consumer profile, but won’t go as in depth as Fashion Communication and Marketing.
I’ve gone over the skills you need to have a long term career in Fashion Design. Which skills do you currently already possess? Which do you want to improve upon? Do share with me! I hope this information is useful for you! See you guys in the next article on Fashion!