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Essential skills every fashion designer should have

Thomasina R. Legend



In this article, we share the skills that fashion designers should have to succeed within the industry. It is important to state how versatile creative people are in outlining these skills because the industry is demanding. To stand out of the crowd and succeed takes a lot of skill, determination, passion, consistency, and creativity. Here are some of the essential skills every designer should have;

Good Business skills & management: Fashion is art, but more importantly, fashion is big business, and it is important for every designer to at least have basic business knowledge and skills such as accounting, marketing, planning, budgeting, bookkeeping etc. Understanding the business of fashion, how to budget, work within your budget, and generate profit for your business season after season is a necessary skill that will take you far within the industry.

Creative Skills: The fashion industry is such a fast-paced environment. Things are constantly changing; trends come and go and greatly impact the designs and styles that are created. To be a successful designer, you must have creative skills to develop new, exciting and visionary ideas. Your ideas have to make you stand out from the crowd, and that takes creativity. Being able to research and develop your unique creations will take you far in the industry.

Construction skills: Being able to construct the designs you create is a skill that every fashion designer should have. Learning how to construct garments, sew, stitch, and more are essential skills.

Artistic & Visualisation skills: Your design ideas have to come to life, and being able to convey those ideas through sketching, using various mediums are skills that every fashion designer should have. Creating samples for your designs is a part of the process. Being able to sketch, paint, illustrate, or draw your ideas knowing and understanding how to combine, blend, or effectively use colours, fabrics, textures, and patterns within your designs is necessary.

Good communicative skills: Fashion projects and designs involve a diverse group of people with different roles that they each play. As a designer, it is important for you to have great communication skills to communicate your ideas, process, and progress to your design team. Having great and clear communication skills enables each project to flow seamlessly, achieve its goals, and be completed successfully.

Interpersonal skills: Just as having great communication skills, interpersonal skills are also an important and much-needed skill. As a designer, you will work and collaborate with other creative people within the industry, from clients, photographers, models, hair and makeup teams, to marketing and PR firms, so understanding how to interact with a vast pool of creative people on a professional level is important.

Computer skills: Knowing and understanding how to use computer-aided design (CAD) programs, graphic editing software, AI software and technology is also an important skill to learn and have. As the industry evolves and adopts new technology, so should you as a designer be at the helm learning and evolving to effectively use these skills in communicating your designs with others within the industry and help your brand grow. Having basic computer skills is also important in helping you as a designer know how to manage your team, your busy schedule, and your online calendar throughout the year of fast-paced fashion seasons and the demanding schedules that come with it.

Detail-oriented: Attention to detail is so critical when you design. A designer should be able to pick up on the tiniest of details, no matter how minuscule. Catching mishaps or mistakes like stitching errors, unfinished hems, bad samples to your model's makeup and hair not being what it is supposed to be, are all details that you, the designer, should keep an eye on. No detail is too small, and being detail-orientated will help you consistently achieve your vision before it goes in front of prospective clients, investors and your audience.

Leadership skills: As a fashion designer, you will be in charge of a team, no matter how small, because you will be working with other creative people who come on board to help make sure you meet your target goals, and these people can be design assistants, interns, apprentices, tailors or even a media production team who are there to help you create your brand story, websites, look books and fashion films. Being a good leader entails you knowing how to support and encourage your team, being able to give direction, acknowledge shortcomings, and at the same time praise achievements, be able to set goals and be an example your team can emulate.

Decision-making skills: Making decisions, implementing changes and taking advice concerning what you should do, how to do it, and when to do what needs to be done are all tough decisions that designers will face and as a leader of your team, even if it's a team of one, there will be a lot of decisions to make along the way and knowing how and when to make the right changes and choices and incorporating them will be critical to your success.

Time management skills: Knowing how to efficiently manage your time as a designer to accomplish your goals and responsibilities is a needed and essential skill that will help you be more productive. Time is very important, and once gone can never be gotten back. Your time should be utilised wisely. There is so much to do as a designer, from designing the clothes, running the business, and dealing with your immediate team. You will also be involved and most of the time in charge of organising your events, ordering supplies, shopping for the stock from fabrics to miscellaneous. You will also be involved in the media production aspects; model selection, commissioning a photography team, and so much more. Knowing how to manage your time, like delegating tasks, using creative apps that help keep you and your team on track like Slack, Asana, and others, will help you focus. Time management is so necessary and important because poorly managed times can lead to being overworked and overwhelmed, leading to mental health and physical health challenges that are not good for you or your business.

Trend analysis skills: Every fashion designer should be able to research and be informed of the latest trends and foresee future trends or create trends. Being able to predict or forecast trends in fashion will be an advantage and give you an edge that others don't have.

In-depth knowledge of fabrics: It is essential to understand the different types of fabrics and how they work independently or when fused with others. Knowing how to select and understand each fabric's characteristics, textures, and seasons of use is fundamental in fashion design. Also, knowing how fabric production is done and how to care for them is also important knowledge, and skill designers should have.

Flexibility & ability to adapt: As a designer, creative and business owner, your responsibilities change daily, and challenges may arise that force you to become flexible and adapt. Adaptability is critical as a creative and designer. Knowing how to handle the numerous challenges and struggles that arise as a designer and business is a skill every designer must adapt and be ready to step into.

Problem-solving skills: Problems and challenges arise constantly within projects, and as a designer you will encounter your fair share of struggles and challenges. Being able to step up and lead your team to come up with innovative ideas and solutions is a skill that you will need to be able to motivate and empower your team along the way so that project deadlines will be met. With fashion like every other business, there will be challenges and issues that arise all the time that you as a designer and leader will have to find solutions to immediately. Sometimes having to draw new designs or create new sketches at short notice due to issues that arise will be your responsibility and one that you should be able to deal with and address quickly to not push your deadlines back or keep your team in limbo.


Image Credit:

Photography: Trevor Stuurman @trevor_stuurman

Designer: Tongoro @tongorostudio