Fashion designers design and oversee the production of original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They research fashion trends, create a theme for a collection, sketch their designs by hand or with computer-aided design (CAD) programs, pick and choose fabrics, and present samples of their designs to a creative director or in a fashion or trade show. Some fashion designers are self-employed while others work for large design firms or apparel companies.
Fashion designers are not required to hold a postsecondary degree, but most enter their profession with an associate or bachelor’s degree in fashion design. Employers are likely to favor designers with a strong portfolio who are familiar with CAD technology, have a thorough knowledge of textiles and fabrics, and understand each step of the clothing production process.
There are several accredited schools that offer two-year associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and online diplomas or certificates in fashion, jewelry, or accessory design. Coursework in a typical bachelor’s of fine arts program in fashion design may cover men’s and women’s wear, fashion and art history, visual communication, clothing construction, merchandising, and marketing. While in school, students can begin building their design portfolio to show to potential employers by submitting work to student contests.