You Can Make It

How to become a Real Life fashion designer

Often I hear from younger fashion & style enthusiasts asking me advice on how to become a fashion designer.  Not sure I’m the one to ask, because, well it’s more about being creative for me than anything else.

The fact is, the Fashion & Textiles industry’s seemingly impenetrable heirachy is ruled by heiresses to family fortunes in Europe, and child-actresses with golden noses in the USA.  If you’re an average young person without a fashion degree & have an avid interest in sketching, considering designing as a career can be daunting to say the least.  Here are a few suggestions to give you an early start to building an empire, and leaving a legacy akin to the Little Orphan Coco.  This one is for the young folks:

image by Alexander Thomson

SHOP AROUND There’s no easy start.  If you are a teen, or in your 20’s, get a retail job: the more specialized, the better.  The sooner you understand how clothing fits an actual body, and how each and every woman wants clothing that “doesn’t make her look fat,” you will then begin taking the steps to identifying your customer.

READ ALL ABOUT IT You may think that all women’s magazines are garbage: they teach you to hate your body and become a man-pleasing robot.  Pretty much, but take another good look at them individually.  Once you pay attention to each publication’s point of view, you will have a better understanding of how fashion is presented to the consumer.  You will also identify trends, influencers & appreciate the hard work of professionals who work in publishing.  As a fashion designer, how can you work with Vogue if you are not familiar with their content?

TALK ABOUT IT Start a blog, connect with social media, and voice your opinion on personal style & the latest fashion.  By participating in the ever-evolving discussion, you will develop your unique point of view, and start gaining followers who may shop your collections in the future.  You can also put your lookbook online free using wix utilising your tech-savvy skills to avoid waste & printing costs.

LEARNING TO FLY I can’t tell everybody to get library books about patternmaking & make their own samples, but that’s how it worked for me.  Even so, I admit seeing my first collection of samples is now embarrassing to me.  But hey, what’s IN one day may be OUT the next, so don’t worry about it too much.  Maybe you want to start with jewelry or some simple accessories for hair on etsy, and take it from there.  Be prepared to re-invest your sales into getting better materials and grow organically.

BFFS Look to your friends & family to get the word out first about your new creations.  Don’t be shy about asking people directly to share your items over facebook or host a trunk show or party once you have a good number of pieces.  Kickstarter seems silly to me, but some people recommend it.  It could work for you if you’re planning to go to the next level & upgrade materials or outsource samplemaking.

NEW BEST FRIENDS Join a trade association like Fashion Group International, they have chapters in most cities and are extremely helpful with a directory of resources in the New York Garment District as well as a very high-profile members directory, great for finding mentors.  Get Betsey on the phone please, let’s have Daiquiris!

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