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Fashion Design Education Guidelines

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

In addition to creativity and sketching ability, fashion designers also need to have sewing and patternmaking skills, even if they do not perform these tasks themselves. Designers need to be able to understand these skills so they can give proper instructions as to how the garment should be constructed. Fashion designers also need strong sales and presentation skills in order to persuade clients to purchase their designs. Good teamwork and communication skills also are necessary because of the increasingly international nature of the business that requires constant contact with suppliers, manufacturers, and buyers around the world.

Aspiring fashion designers can learn these necessary skills through internships with design or manufacturing firms. Some designers also gain valuable experience working in retail stores, as personal stylists, or as custom tailors. Such experience can help designers gain sales and marketing skills while learning what styles and fabrics look good on different people. Designers also can gain exposure to potential employers by entering their designs in student or amateur contests. Because of the global nature of the fashion industry, experience in one of the international fashion centers, such as Milan or Paris, can be useful.

Beginning fashion designers usually start out as pattern makers or sketching assistants for more experienced designers before they can advance to higher level positions. Experienced designers may advance to chief designer, design department head, or other supervisory position. Some designers may start their own design company, or sell their designs in their own retail stores. A few of the most successful designers can work for high-fashion design houses that offer personalized design services to wealthy clients.

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