How to Become a Fashion Designer and Launch Your Brand
Starting your career path in fashion design is a daunting yet exhilarating decision. You can finally share your creations with the world and inspire others with your designs. But how exactly can you inspire them if you don’t have years of experience? What resources do you need to successfully launch a brand?
If these questions have you feeling confused about how to become a fashion designer and where to start, look no further. In this guide, we’ll reveal the key to launching your clothing brand and becoming a successful fashion designer.
Finding Your Place in the Fashion Industry
Just because you haven’t gone to fashion school doesn’t mean you can’t become a fashion designer. In fact, some of the most famous designers in the world were educated in a different field before entering the world of fashion. A perfect example of this is Kate Spade, who had earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism. Though she worked as an associate editor at the women’s magazine Mademoiselle, she had no formal education in fashion design.
However, that didn’t stop Spade from pursuing a career in fashion. The late, great designer decided to launch a handbag company in the early ’90s when she noticed there was a lack of stylish, affordable, and sensible handbags on the market. She was able to zero in on a specific area of fashion and determined a gap in the market that she could fill— fashionable, feminine, and functional handbags with a sense of playfulness.
Spade was able to get her first batch of handbags manufactured by contacting a pattern maker she found in an issue of Women’s Wear Daily. Soon enough, the Kate Spade brand began to establish itself as a distinguished high-quality handbag retailer and gained an early celebrity following. By the late ‘90s, Kate Spade started opening retail stores throughout the world. Eventually, the brand expanded into apparel and accessories and by 2017, Kate Spade was sold to Coach for $2.4 billion.
Determining Your Market
Like Kate Spade, you want to find an area of fashion design that not only interests you but where you also see you can fill a void. For example, say you have an interest in fashion-forward men’s sportswear but every brand in this category sells mostly neutral apparel at a steep price point. In this case, the hole you may be able to fill is colorful, affordable, and stylish men’s sportswear.
If you’re willing to put in the hard work and have the passion, confidence, and skills to create the designs that are lacking within a specific market, then you’ve determined your place in the industry.
Finding Your Strengths and Skills
If you want to build your own fashion empire, you have to accept that you can’t control every aspect of your brand. To have a successful design career, you must analyze your own artistic abilities and decide which part of your business you would best serve.
There are many different roles aside from fashion designing, like pattern makers, technical designers, and merchandisers — and this doesn’t even begin to factor in the business side of fashion.
When you first launch your brand, determine where your strengths lie within different possible roles. For example, if you’re purely creative and have a knack for marketing, you might be best suited as a creative director. This role may consist of researching fashion trends, selecting fabrics and colors, and determining the direction of each fashion line. However, you probably wouldn’t be in charge of doing fashion sketches, sewing, and pattern making. In that case, you’d have to hire a team to do these tasks for you.
Building a Team
Once you’ve decided on your role, determine which people to hire to fulfill all the needs of your clothing line. Here’s a list of roles that are necessary for launching a successful fashion brand:
- Technical Designers: Technical designers often serve as the middleperson between the fashion designer and production team. They’ll help you select the right fabrics for your fashion designs, decide details like the placement of buttons and zippers, and determine where all the necessary seams must be placed. They then work with the production team to create the first samples, making sure the quality is on point and ready for production. For this role, it’s ideal to hire someone who has substantial experience sewing, pattern making, and draping, such as a costume designer or tailor. It’s also extremely helpful if they have experience in computer-aided design so they can draft technical versions of your fashion designs, otherwise known as fashion flats.
- Fashion Merchandiser: Fashion merchandising is a huge part of generating sales for your brand. Merchandisers decide how you’re going to display your clothing, whether it’s online, at trade shows, or in retail shops. The main job of a merchandiser is to inform customers on how to style your fashions and show them how they can incorporate your products into their own wardrobes. Essentially, they generate an image for your brand through visual storytelling. A person with experience as a visual merchandiser, fashion show coordinator, or stylist would best fit this role.
- Marketing Manager: Without proper marketing, your beautiful designs won’t get the exposure and sales they deserve. That’s why you must hire a marketing manager. This position maintains social media accounts, manages the company website, organizes online marketing campaigns, and contacts potential collaborators who can promote your products. It’s important to hire someone who not only has experience promoting brands through online and social media channels but also understands the fast-moving fashion industry. They should be able to anticipate how your customers will buy clothing in the years to come.
If you don’t have the time, resources, or budget to hire a full team, no worries — with the help of TEG, all you need is yourself to become a fashion designer. We provide creative planning, strategy, and sourcing services for fashion designers looking for a little extra help bringing their designs and brand to life.
To help plan the creative strategy for the launch of your fashion brand, we provide the following services:
- Collection development strategy
- Overall design analysis
- Merchandise and assortment planning
- Creative planning intake session
- Competitive analysis and target pricing
- Three-phase action plan
- Weekly check-ins
If you need help bringing your fashion designs to life, we also offer design service packages that provide:
- Design intake session
- Mood board
- Flat drawing of each style
- Line sheet
- Prints/colors rendered
- Fabric color palette
- 1–2 rounds of revisions*
- Optional fashion illustration*
We provide both of these creative service packages at $1100. With all the amenities that these include, you’ll save significantly on hiring hourly workers.
What We Can Do For You
TEG is your one-stop shop for everything you need to become a full-fledged fashion designer and launch your first collection. With the help of our production managers, pattern makers, and in-house design professionals, we’ll take you through the entire process of bringing your designs to life and making sure your collection is everything you’ve dreamed of and more!
Our expertise provides high-quality creative services like fabric and trim sourcing that you won’t find elsewhere. Our top-of-the-line sourcing managers skillfully guide you through sampling fabric swatches, negotiating minimums and prices, tracking orders, and more.
Whether you’re an emerging or established designer, we’ve helped over 2,000 designers during the last 15+ years bring their visions to life. We’d love to help you, too!
For all inquiries and questions, please call or fill out the below form, and we will respond within 1-2 business days. Thank you!
Los Angeles: 800-916-0910 | San Francisco: 415-324-8779