Fashion design is the art of the application of design and aesthetics to clothing and accessories. Fashion designers help create the billions of dresses, suits, shoes, and other clothing and accessories purchased every year by consumers all over the world. Designers study trends (both domestic and international), sketch designs of clothing and accessories, select colors and fabrics, and oversee the final production of their designs. Some fashion designers specialize primarily in clothing, footwear, or accessory design, but others create designs in all three fashion categories.
Careers & Types of Fashion
Fashion designers work in a number of ways in designing clothing and accessories. Designers attempt to satisfy consumer desire for aesthetically designed clothing; and, because of the time required to bring a garment onto the market, must at times anticipate changing consumer tastes. Some designers in fact have a reputation which enables them to set fashion trends.
Clothing designers create and help produce men's, women's, and children's apparel, including casual wear, suits, sportswear, formalwear, outerwear, maternity, and intimate apparel.
Footwear designers help create and produce different styles of shoes and boots. Accessory designers help create and produce items such as handbags, belts, scarves, hats, hosiery, and eyewear, which add the finishing touches to an outfit.
Accessory designers create decorative items that adorn and supplement one's garment. These items include items such as jewelry, gloves, handbags, hats, belts, scarves, watches, sunglasses, pins, stockings, bow ties, leg warmers, leggings, neckties, suspenders, and tights.
Up until the 50s, high fashion clothing was mainly designed and manufactured on a made-to-measure or haute couture basis. Haute couture means "high-fashion" in French with each garment being created and tailored for a specific client. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.
Ready-to-wear clothes are a cross between haute couture and mass market produced items. Ready-to-wear is not made for individual customers, but great care is taken in the choice and cut of the fabric. Clothes are made in small quantities to guarantee exclusivity and are rather expensive. Ready-to-wear collections are usually presented by fashion houses each season during a period known as Fashion Week. This takes place on a city-wide basis and occurs twice a year.
The mass market caters for a wide range of customers, producing ready-to-wear clothes in large quantities and standard sizes. Cheap materials, creatively used, produce affordable fashion. Mass market designers generally adapt the trends set by the famous names in fashion.
Education & Training
Designers must have a strong sense of the esthetic—an eye for color and detail, a sense of balance and proportion, and an appreciation for beauty. Fashion schools instruct students in apparel classics as well as providing guidance as they develop their own innovative styles. Schools will also help prepare students for "The Industry" (ready-to-wear/mass production) aspect of design along with the boutique (limited editions) and the Haute Couture (exclusive custom design) aspects of fashion.