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Making it in Design


Working in Design or any creative sector is an enviable career, nothing will compare to the feeling of self-achievement when your sketches come to life or working in an invigorating environment with creatives who share the same passion.

Fashion design is often perceived as glamorous, whilst this is some-what true this is just the surface of being a designer, there are many more layers to consider.

Working Hours:

As a designer you’ll be expected to work long hours, a 9 to 5 in this line of work is unheard of. Your work load will be driven by sign offs and send outs, working to tough deadlines and the possibility of your customer or buying team making last minute changes.

A huge perk is having the option to travel, these might be long days and early start; to get the best priced flight you will depart at the crack of dawn! You’ll also find that you never actually switch off, you’ll be consumed by your work, always keeping your eyes peeled for new inspiration on the market. This is natural when you have a real passion for what you do.


It is important to remember you are entering this industry for your love of design, not necessarily for the financial reward. Whilst design is certainly not poorly paid, it’s not always the most lucrative route in the fashion industry. Paid travel and clothing discounts are a huge benefit, but be aware that it is unlikely you’ll earn the big bucks until you senior level, but with hard work and dedication you’ll   get there!

Sketching & CAD: 

If you’re an Illustrator look for roles that utilise these skills, such as greeting cards or homewares, when you move into fashion, the chances of being able to paint and draw will be slim. You will work predominantly on CAD for speed and accuracy. Even as a print designer for apparel, you will be largely CAD based, and your more creative elements will become a hobby.

You will also need to make sure your CAD skills are up to date, software changes and evolves so rapidly that you will need to be constantly aware of new tools and innovations. Although your company may not upgrade as often, you should still ensure your knowledge is current, otherwise you will find your skills are quickly outdated.

As well as CAD, you will be required to use a varied amount of computer software on a daily basis, such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint,  internal systems and databases specific to the company you are working for. If you are a technophobe, perhaps this is not the route for you.

Public Speaking:

As we all know fashion can be a cut-throat industry, you won’t always be told how amazing your work is so prepare yourself for some criticism. Don’t let this dampen your spirit, take on those criticisms and turn them into positives, always be excited and talk passionately about your creations. You are the ambassador of your own work, give it life and make others excited too.

Fear is a normal part of public speaking, some find it a walk in the park whilst it doesn’t come naturally to others. It would be great if we could let our work speak for itself, but being able to present confidently is a great skill to have as a designer, as you’ll be presenting regularly in front of clients and buying teams. It is easier said than done, at first you’ll feel nervous, your palms will sweat, your stomach will be in knots but just like anything the more you do it the better you’ll become.

You don’t have to be the most out-going extroverted character to come across well in your presentations, prepare, be yourself and connect with your audience.

It Takes All Sorts:

You will meet all sorts of people on your journey of being a designer, from the most flamboyant sparkly characters, to a barefoot maiden. You will be surprised sometimes by how the skill and passion of a person, differs from their image and soon realise fashion has no image.

Not all streetwear is designed by a heavily tattooed skater, and not all girls wear is by the sweetest of sweet. Our love of product isn’t always our personal preference, in fact, it’s better when it isn’t as it means you’re able to have a more of an objective view of the task in hand.

You do need to be comfortable in very diverse environments, be able to build relationship with all different types of people in all walks of life. And that’s just in your own office, then you have to consider the culture differences across the world in your suppliers. You need to be open minded, and able to adapt.

No two days are the same for a designer, it’s a varied and challenging role, but it’s very rewarding, when you see your work in store, online, in magazines, maybe even TV, it makes it all worthwhile.

If you’re keen to make it as a designer, please visit our website for all of our latest design opportunities.

 By Kathryn Barksby
 Senior Fashion Recruitment Consultant

Direct Line: 0330 335 0986

Posted by: People Marketing Fashion Recruitment