Fashion designer: Wikis


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Two seamstresses, Rue du Caire by Paul Signac

Fashion design is the applied art dedicated to clothing and lifestyle accessories created within the cultural and social influences of a specific time. It is considered to have a planned obsolescence usually of one to two seasons. A season is defined as either autumn/winter or spring/summer.



Fashion designers can work in a number of ways. Fashion designers may work full-time for one fashion company, known as 'in-house designers', which owns the designs. They may work alone or as part of a team. Freelance designers work for themselves, and sell their designs to fashion houses, directly to shops, or to clothing manufacturers. The garments bear the buyer's label. Some fashion designers set up their own labels, under which their designs are marketed. Some fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. Other high-fashion designers cater to specialty stores or high-fashion department stores. These designers create original garments, as well as those that follow established fashion trends. Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, creating designs of men’s, women’s, and children’s fashions for the mass market. Large designer brands which have a 'name' as their brand such as Calvin Klein, Gucci, or Chanel are likely to be designed by a team of individual designers under the direction of a designer director.

Designing a collection

A fashion collection is something that designers put together each season to show their idea of new trends in both their high end couture range as well as their mass market range.

Designing a garment

Fashion designers work in different ways. Some sketch their ideas on paper, while others drape fabric on a dress form. When a designer is completely satisfied with the fit of the toile (or muslin), he or she will consult a professional pattern maker who then makes the finished, working version of the pattern out of card. The pattern maker's job is very precise and painstaking. The fit of the finished garment depends on their accuracy. Finally, a sample garment is made up and tested on a model.


Fashion design is generally considered to have started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments that he created. Before the former draper set up his maison couture (fashion house) in Paris, clothing design and creation was handled by largely anonymous seamstresses, and high fashion descended from that worn at royal courts. Worth's success was such that he was able to dictate to his customers what they should wear, instead of following their lead as earlier dressmakers had done. The term couturier was in fact first created in order to describe him. While all articles of clothing from any time period are studied by academics as costume design, only clothing created after 1858 could be considered as fashion design.

It was during this period that many design houses began to hire artists to sketch or paint designs for garments. The images were shown to clients, which was much cheaper than producing an actual sample garment in the workroom. If the client liked their design, they ordered it and the resulting garment made money for the house. Thus, the tradition of designers sketching out garment designs instead of presenting completed garments on models to customers began as an economy.

Types of fashion

There are three main categories of fashion design, although these may be split up into additional, more specific categories:


Haute couture

Until the 1950s, fashion clothing was predominately designed and manufactured on a made-to-measure or haute couture basis (French for high-fashion), with the garment being created 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. Look and fit take priority over the cost of materials and the time it takes to make.


Ready-to-wear clothes are a cross between haute couture and mass market. They are 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, so they 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.

Mass market

Currently the fashion industry relies more on mass market sales. 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. They often wait around a season to make sure a style is going to catch on before producing their own versions of the original look. In order to save money and time, they use cheaper fabrics and simpler production techniques which can easily be done by machine. The end product can therefore be sold much more cheaply.

There is a type of design called 'kitsch' design. . . originated from the german word 'kitschen' meaning ugly or not aesthetically pleasing. Another way to describe the term 'kitsch' is " wearing or displaying something that has passed its fashion date and is therefore no longer in fashion. so if you are seen wearing a pair of pants that was once worn in the 80's it is seen to be known as a 'kitsch' fashion statement.


Median annual wages for salaried fashion designers were $61,160 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,150 and $87,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,780.. Median annual earnings were $52,860 (£28,340) in apparel, piece goods, and notions - the industry employing the largest numbers of fashion designers.[2]

Fashion education

A classroom filled with sewing machines and mannequins.
A student fashion show, 2007

There are a number of well known art schools and design schools world wide that offer degrees in fashion design. The most notable of design schools include Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London College of Fashion, and University of Westminster in London; Fashion Federation; Fashion Institute of Technology , Parsons The New School for Design in New York City , Politecnico of Milan and International Institute of Fashion Design.

Areas of fashion design

Many professional fashion designers start off by specializing in a particular area of fashion. The smaller and the more specific the market, the more likely a company is to get the right look and feel to their clothes. It is also easier to establish oneself in the fashion industry if a company is known for one type of product, rather than several products. Once a fashion company becomes established (that is, has regular buyers and is well-known by both the trade and the public), it may decide to expand into a new area. If the firm has made a name for the clothes it already produces, this helps to sell the new line. It is usually safest for a company to expand into an area similar to the one it already knows. For example, a designer of women's sportswear might expand into men's sportswear. The chart below shows the areas in which many designers choose to specialize.

Area Brief Market
Women's Day wear Practical, comfortable, fashionable Haute couture, ready-to-wear, mass market
Women's Evening wear Glamorous, sophisticated, apt for the occasion Haute couture, ready-to-wear, mass market
Women's Lingerie Glamorous, comfortable, washable Haute Couture, ready-to-wear, mass market
Men's Day wear Casual, practical, comfortable Tailoring, ready-to-wear, mass market
Men's Evening wear Smart, elegant, formal, apt for the occasion Tailoring, ready-to-wear, mass market
Kidswear Trendy or Classy, practical, washable, functional Ready-to-wear, mass market
Girls' Wear Pretty, colorful, practical, washable, inexpensive Ready-to-wear, mass market
Teenager Girl Wear Colorful,comfortable,glamorous,pretty, Ready-to-wear, mass market
Sportswear Comfortable, practical, well-ventilated, washable, functional Ready-to-wear, mass market
Knitwear Right weight and color for the season Ready-to-wear, mass market
Outerwear Stylish, warm, right weight and color for the season Ready-to-wear, mass market
Bridal wear Sumptuous, glamorous, classic Haute couture, ready-to-wear, mass market
Accessories Striking, fashionable Haute couture, ready-to-wear, mass market
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[[lt6.jpg:|Latoya Walker for 'Lost in Translation' collection 2008

Fashion design around the world

Most major countries have their own fashion industry, including China, South Korea, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and India. However, only five nations have established truly international reputations in fashion design. These countries are France,Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Japan.

American fashion design

The majority of American fashion houses are based in New York, although there are also a significant number in Los Angeles, where a substantial percentage of clothing manufactured in the US is actually made. There are also burgeoning industries in Miami and Chicago, which were once centers of American fashion. American fashion design is dominated by a clean-cut, casual style, reflecting the athletic, health-conscious lifestyles of some American city-dwellers. A designer who helped to set the trend in the United States for sport-influenced day wear throughout the 1940s and 50's was Claire McCardell. Many of her designs have been revived in recent decades. More modern influences on the American look have been Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, Kenneth Cole, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Betsey Johnson and Tommy Hilfiger.

British fashion design

London has long been the capital of the UK fashion industry and has a wide range of foreign designs which have integrated with modern British styles. Typical British design is smart but innovative yet recently has become more and more unconventional, fusing traditional styles with modern techniques. Among the most notable UK fashion designers are Burberry, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, John Galliano, Jasper Conran and Alexander McQueen .

===French fashion design=== g Most French fashion houses are in Paris, which is the capital of French fashion. Traditionally, French fashion is chic and stylish, defined by its sophistication, cut, and smart accessories. Among the many Parisian couture houses are Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Chloé, who display their work at the designer collections that are held twice a year. Also, French fashion is internationally acclaimed and Paris is symbolically the home of fashion, yet the Global Language Monitor in 2009, have placed it 3rd in the Media, after Milan and New York.

Italian fashion design

Italy currently leads the world in fashion and Milan is the capital of fashion in the world. Most of the older Italian couturiers are in Rome. However, Milan and Florence are the Italian fashion capitals, and it is the exhibition venue for their collections. Italian fashion features casual elegance and luxurious fabrics. The first Italian luxury brand was the florentine Salvatore Ferragamo (who has exported exquisite hand-made shoes to the U.S. since the 1920s); among the best-known, exclusive fashion names, another florentine Gucci is the greatest-selling Italian fashion brand, and third greatest in the world, with worldwide sales of $7.158 billion dollars.[3] Other well-known Italian fashion houses include: Valentino Garavani, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Borbonese, Prada, Loro Piana, Byblos, Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Ermenegildo Zegna, La Perla, Agnona, Laura Biagiotti, Lancetti, Iceberg, Carlo Pignatelli, MIla Schön, Roberta di Camerino, Krizia, Trussardi and Missoni. Even though Milan is the national and worldwide capital of fashion, Rome, Florence, Turin,Naples and Venice also contain many high-end fashion boutiques and are international capitals.

Swiss fashion design

Most of the Swiss fashion houses are in Zürich. The Swiss look is casual elegant and luxurious. The fabrics manufactured in St. Gallen are exported to the most important fashion Houses all over the World (Paris / New York / London / Milan/ Tokyo). The first Swiss luxury brand is Alvoni from the italo/Swiss designer Marianne Alvoni.

Japanese fashion design

Most Japanese fashion houses are in Tokyo. The Japanese look is loose and unstructured (often resulting from complicated cutting), colours tend to the sombre and subtle, and richly textured fabrics. Famous Japanese designers are Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo, Issey Miyake (masterful drape and cut), and Comme des Garçons 's Rei Kawakubo, who developed a new way of cutting (comparable to Madeleine Vionnet's innovation in the 1930s).

Fashion design terms

  • A fashion designer conceives garment combinations of line, proportion, color, and texture. While sewing and pattern-making skills are beneficial, they are not a pre-requisite of successful fashion design. Most fashion designers are formally trained or apprenticed.
  • A pattern maker (or pattern cutter) drafts the shapes and sizes of a garment's pieces. This may be done manually with paper and measuring tools or by using an AutoCAD computer software program. Another method is to drape fabric directly onto a dress form. The resulting pattern pieces can be constructed to produce the intended design of the garment and required size. Formal training is usually required for working as a pattern marker.
  • A tailor makes custom designed garments made to the client's measure; especially suits (coat and trousers, jacket and skirt, et cetera). Tailors usually undergo an apprenticeship or other formal training.
  • A textile designer designs fabric weaves and prints for clothes and furnishings. Most textile designers are formally trained as apprentices and in school.
  • A stylist co-ordinates the clothes, jewelry, and accessories used in fashion photography and catwalk presentations. A stylist may also work with an individual client to design a coordinated wardrobe of garments. Many stylists are trained in fashion design, the history of fashion and historical costume, and have a high level of expertise in the current fashion market and future market trends. However, some simply have a strong aesthetic sense for pulling great looks together.
  • A buyer selects and buys the mix of clothing available in retail shops, department stores and chain stores. Most fashion buyers are trained in business and/or fashion studies.
  • A seamstress sews ready to wear or mass produced clothing by hand or with a sewing machine, either in a garment shop or as a sewing machine operator in a factory. She (or he) may not have the skills to make (design and cut) the garments, or to fit them on a model.
  • A teacher of fashion design teaches the art and craft of fashion design in art or fashion school.
  • A custom clothier makes custom-made garments to order, for a given customer.
  • A dressmaker specializes in custom-made women's clothes: day, cocktail, and evening dresses, business clothes and suits, trousseaus, sports clothes, and lingerie.
  • An illustrator draws and paints clothing designs for commercial use.
  • A model wears and displays clothes at fashion shows and in photographs.
  • A fit model aids the fashion designer by wearing and commenting on the fit of clothes during their design and pre-manufacture. Fit models need to be a particular size for this purpose.
  • A fashion journalist writes fashion articles describing the garments presented or fashion trends, for magazines or newspapers.
  • An alterations specialist (alterationist) adjusts the fit of completed garments, usually ready-to-wear, and sometimes re-styles them. NOTE: despite tailors altering garments to fit the client, not all alterationists are tailors.
  • An Image Consultant, wardrobe consultant or fashion advisor recommends styles and colors that are flattering to the client.


  1. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Fashion Designers, on the Internet at (visited March 09, 2010).
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Best Global Brands: The 100 Most Valuable Brands", Vera Bradley BusinessWeek
  • "Fashion advice""Fashion design is the art dedicated to the creation of wearing apparel and lifestyle. Please see also Fashion for a more complete definition. "


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