Fashion & textiles

Fashion designer

Fashion designers design clothing and fashion ranges.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £80,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Fashion designer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • working to design instructions (a ‘brief’)
  • analysing or predicting trends in fabrics, colours and shapes
  • producing concept and mood boards (a collection of items to capture a mood, like photos, fabric pieces or colour samples)
  • producing designs by hand or by using computer-aided design (CAD)
  • developing basic shapes ('blocks') through patterns
  • estimating costs for materials and manufacture
  • finding suppliers
  • supervising the making up of sample clothing items
  • making in-house presentations, for example to finance departments and merchandisers

You’ll often work closely with garment technologists and sample machinists. You could also work with manufacturers (often based overseas) to make sure that designs are reproduced accurately.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship

University

You'll usually need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree.

Courses are widely available and include:

  • fashion design
  • art and design
  • textiles

You should look for a course that covers both design and technical skills to get the practical knowledge needed by the industry.

Some universities and colleges are members of the British Fashion Council.

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

College

You could do a college course, which will teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need to work in the fashion industry. Relevant subjects include:

  • Level 2 Award in Fashion - Sampling Fashion Techniques
  • Level 2 Diploma in Skills for the Fashion Industries
  • Level 3 Extended Diploma in Fashion Design and Production

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You may be able to do an advanced apprenticeship in fashion and textiles and work as an assistant in a design studio. You could then develop your design skills on the job.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Further information

You'll need to get as much work experience as you can, for example through an internship, as there's strong competition for jobs in the fashion industry.

It will help you get a better understanding of the role, and to meet people who may help you to find paid work later.

You can create a portfolio of your design work to showcase your skills, which will help you at course and job interviews. Your portfolio should include mood boards, designs and technical drawings.

You can find more details about working in fashion from Creative Choices and the British Fashion Council.

£20,000 to £80,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £25,000

Experienced salary: £25,000 to £40,000

As a freelance designer you’ll set your own rates, and may charge per design or per collection.

These figures are a guide.

Variable

You’ll often work long hours and weekends to meet deadlines, like at the launch of a new collection.

You’ll be based in a studio or workshop, but may travel to visit manufacturers, often overseas.



You may also go on research visits to places like art galleries, trade shows or to particular places or countries that are linked to a design theme.

With experience you could progress to senior designer, head of a department (like head of women's wear design) or design director.

You could also go freelance or start your own company.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to organise your time and workload
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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