Fashion designers create and produce clothing, shoes, and accessories. This process includes researching trends, sketching design plans, selecting and sourcing materials, manufacturing, and ultimately marketing items. Depending on whether a designer works for a large firm or is self-employed, they may be involved in one to all of these phases. Individuals in the field must combine a keen understanding of functionality and aesthetics to create garments and accessories with marketability. Constantly evolving trends and markets also make it important for fashion designers to regularly re-educate themselves. For this reason creativity, innovation, and a strong business acumen are all important for success in the fashion design and merchandising industry.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Fashion Design?
If you are interested in fashion, a school of design that offers online programs can be a great place to start. Most employers are looking for applicants with either a two- or four-year degree. Fashion designers may work full time for a clothing manufacturer, wholesaler, or as in-house designers for a design firm. They may also work as freelance designers. Those first starting out in the industry who choose to work for a design firm may initially begin their careers as sketching assistants, patternmakers, or seamsters, assisting in the physical production of garment prototypes. They may then eventually work their way up to a higher-level position in designing, marketing, or managing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income for fashion designers employed full time in apparel manufacturing was $66,000 in 2008. Those employed in management positions for design companies and enterprises earned a median salary of $72,560 that same year. Please note, salaries can vary based on your experience, location, the size of the firm you work for, and the general job market.
Fashion designers may also opt to work as freelancers. This gives them the opportunity to design and market their own line, either to existing retailers or through their own boutiques. In addition, freelance fashion designers may create custom high-end apparel for individuals or work on contract for design firms and manufacturers. Some fashion designers might also choose to work in costume design for theatre, television, or film. According to the BLS, those employed in specialized design services had a median annual income of $59,560 in 2008, though this can vary greatly based on the number of clients, projects, or contracts secured by the designer.
In comparison to other careers, fashion design has very low starting salaries, with entry-level openings often in less desirable positions. Aspiring fashion designers should also note this is a very competitive market with little to no growth in the number of positions available expected over the next decade, especially within high-end design firms. A decrease in demand for luxury goods, the outsourcing of manufacturing, and the large number of individuals attracted to this creative field all contribute to the scarcity of jobs. With that said, the best places for fashion designers to find employment are in New York and California at firms that design mass-market clothing or at apparel wholesalers.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Fashion Design?
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) has accredited more than 300 institutions of higher learning, including a number of online design schools. Those interested in earning an online degree in fashion design can expect their coursework to cover fashion history, color theory, textile design, patternmaking, sewing, tailoring, construction of footwear and accessories, and computer-aided design, among other topics. It is also common for fashion design students to take supplemental courses in marketing, business, or fashion merchandising.
When applying, prospective students typically need to demonstrate their artistic ability through a portfolio and/or the successful completion of coursework in basic art and design. You should check the school’s admissions requirements for specific information on what you will need to submit.
Top schools for fashion design understand the importance of producing graduates with a full understanding of design, materials, construction, and marketing. Design is a highly collaborative field, and it is important that designers have an understanding of the entire industry to communicate clearly and effectively. Hands-on experience is also an important part of securing a job upon graduation. During school, students can gain valuable experience through internships at design firms, working in retail, or as a stylist.