how to become a fashion designer

Fast-paced, competitive and always pushing forward, could the fashion industry entice you into its folds? If you are a highly creative person who loves working with their hands and imagination, then you could become a fashion designer. You work creating clothing and accessory designs, keeping on the knife edge of trends while putting your own stamp on your work. You will have to keep on top of tight deadlines and liaise with clients as you work. Being able to network is important as many opportunities will open up this way. The fashion world is a haven for creative people, but you also need to have a hard-nosed business aspect to your personality.

Do you have a passion for fashion? Are you the one always putting together your friend’s outfits for a night out? Do your friends and family always turn to you for fashion ideas? Is your mind a fashion design generator? Then, keep reading while we demystify the pathway to becoming a fashion designer.

Step one: Choose a course

Taking the first step to your success seems small, but it is vitally important. Taking the time to study fashion design will teach you the skills you need to succeed. Helping you to develop your design skills before looking for work. Every artist needs time to grow, and develop their methods and style.

Step two: Build up your portfolio

After graduation (well done you), you will need to build up your portfolio. You will already have a portfolio as a result of your qualifications. But it is good if you can use some personal real-world projects to improve it further. You will catch the eye of potential employers or clients with your portfolio so invest some serious time and effort into making it perfect.

Step three: Look for a job

Once you are ready to look for a job make sure you don’t forget to tailor every resume and cover letter you send in. You may want to tailor your portfolio as well, to suit the job description. Experts forecast job opportunities will grow in fashion design, so now is a good time to start on the path to success.

Step four: Consider a specialisation

Once you have some experience under your belt you can use your insights and understanding of the industry to focus and progress your career. Consider one of these three specialisations. 

Fashion Coordinator

In this role, you change your focus from doing the design work to marketing. You work with fashion houses and retailers to develop marketing strategies. Your goal is to help them make sure the items they are selling are seen and bought by the public.

Window Dresser

A very particular speciality you work in department stores to prepare their display windows. Using mannequins you dress them in clothing and accessories from the fashion ranges they are selling. With your activities, you aim to tantalise the public and encourage them to enter the store.

Wardrobe Consultant

Working in the exciting film industry you work with the film crew to “dress” the characters for the films they shoot. You use your knowledge of fashion, often in historical contexts or particular time stamped moments, to shape the characters.

What are a Fashion Designers Duties?

As a fashion designer, you create ideas for clothing and accessories. You might design footwear, dresses, suits, handbags, jewellery. In short, anything considered fashion you get to design it. In the early stages of the design, you may make mood boards and collections of things which will inspire the design. Then you begin to put your ideas onto paper and refine them. Once you have a final design you pitch those designs to your client. As well as designing the items you choose materials, considering colour, texture, and durability. In the meantime, you liaise with your clients and anyone else on the design team. When items go into production you make checks and monitor to make sure the designs come out as intended.


  • Staying up-to-date with fashion trends
  • Meeting concept and production deadlines
  • Coming up with original fashion ideas
  • Illustrating and designing clothing 
  • Choosing materials and textiles

Skills for Success

To succeed in the world of fashion you will need to ooze creativity, and constantly come up with new ideas. You will need to be competitive and driven. In order to carry out successful projects, you will also need to keep to a budget. As a good communicator, you liaise with your clients. You listen to the briefs they set you, and pitch your ideas to them once you complete your designs. Lastly, having social skills to hob-nob and network will be vitally important in a world where connections matter, and who you know can open doors. Prepare yourself for the ride of a lifetime, as a fashion designer you will never have a boring day!

Skills and attributes

  • Passionate about fashion
  • Drawing skills
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Creative
  • Good understanding of how to use colour
  • Sewing skills
  • Good communicator

What do Fashion Designers earn in Australia?

In Australia, fashion designers earn a median wage of $60,107 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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