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How to Become Fashion Designer ( Part 4 ) – Learning the Fashion Lingo of the Fashion Industry !

Fashion Industry Terminology That May Come Up in an Interview

When it’s time for that big job interview, don’t get thrown off-guard when an interviewer uses a fashion industry term you don’t know. Make sure you’re familiar with the common apparel industry terms listed below. You might even try using some yourself to really impress!


Fashion Illustrations: Used most often in fashion design portfolios, these stylized fashion figure drawings are what most people think of when talking about “fashion design”. While fashion schools focus heavily on fashion illustrations, they are rarely used by designers in the apparel industry. Despite this, fashion illustrations are still used in fashion design portfolios, because they demonstrate a fashion designer’s sketching skills and individuality, adding a “wow” factor to their presentation.

Mood Board: Used often in fashion portfolio layouts, the mood board is placed at the beginning of each design group and contains images, fabric swatches, trims, and other findings, which express the mood, inspiration and color story for the collection of apparel designs that follow.

Flats: Flat sketches, better known in the fashion industry as “flats”, are black and white fashion sketches that show a garment as if it were laid “flat” to display all seams, hardware, and any other design details. While they can be drawn by hand, nowadays fashion flats are usually sketched using computer software such as Adobe Illustrator. Always included in design packages and tech packs, they serve as an important reference for patternmakers, merchandisers, as well as production and sales teams, and manufacturers. Flats are an absolute must in every apparel design room.


Line Sheet: A line sheet is a reference guide used by salespeople and buyers when discussing and presenting am apparel collection to buyers. Typically, several garment styles are listed on one page and the following information is included for each style: a black and white flat sketch, style number, season, price, delivery date / order cut-off date, color, and fabric information. They usually contain actual fabric swatches as well.

CADs: Fashion CADs, (Computer Aided Designs) are computerized, color rendered, flat sketches that simulate the appearance of an actual garment. As a basic rule of thumb, the more realistic the CAD sketch is – the better. CAD sketches are often used as visual aids during sales presentations, and can serve as a sample substitute when an actual sample is not yet available. They are often sent to buyers for visual references.

Presentation Boards: Most fashion presentation boards are simply CADs, except they are presented in a nicer layout. Usually including fabric swatches or artwork, they are preferred by most sales people for presentations. Even when real samples are available, they add variety to an already existing style.

Specs: Sample specifications or “specs” are garment measurements and details that are included in design packages and tech packs. Many apparel specs are shown along with fashion flat sketches, and are important to sample development.

Tech Pack: Also known as design packages, tech packs are vital to the garment production process. Usually they contain fully detailed fashion flats and specs, topstitching and hardware details, any necessary artwork layouts, and basically any other information required to produce a sample garment. Tech packs are sent to factories to make apparel samples for approval.

Fits: Fits, or garment fittings, is the process of making sure a sample garment meets all necessary measurement and detail specifications to achieve the desired fit. Conducted by technical designers, the apparel fitting process involves measuring a sample garment, checking all hardware, topstitching and details, and communicating any necessary comments or revisions with factories.

Grades / Grading: When the fit of a sample garment is approved, a size grade will be sent to the factories to begin production. A size grade is a chart containing measurements for the ordered size range of an approved style.

Color Card: The specific color themes used in each season’s fashion line are chosen from color forecasting services. Color cards are then assembled for fashion presentations, combining forecasted colors with standard popular selling colors.

Yarn Dyed: Fabric that is woven with yarns that were dyed before weaving. Most good quality fabrics are yarn dyed.

Piece Dyed: Fabric that is dyed in a vat by the bolt (full piece) after it is woven.

Lab-dips: Lab dips are conducted by factories to provide a visual aid of how a color will look when it is dyed. Since the lab dip is produced in a beaker and is not an actual production run, the actual production sample will vary from the lab dip that is provided. When the goods are dyed in a real production run, the conditions are dramatically different from the laboratory. Production does not begin on fabric unless a lab dip is approved or the customer waives the lab dip process.

Textile Design: Quite often in the apparel industry, fashion designers are involved in the process of creating textile designes, which is artwork for prints, plaids, or stripes to be used in fabric development and production.

Strike-off: A test sample of printed fabric made to show and verify color and pattern before entering into production on larger quantities.

Pitch Sheet: A pitch sheet shows a full repeat of a textile design and contains samples of the individual colors included in that print. Pitch sheets are used by factories to produce strike-offs for approval.

Source: Designernexus.com

Read also:

  • Fulfilling Your Vision ( Part 5 ):
    Becoming Your Own Fashion Designer
  • Put Together ( Part 6 ):
    What to Include in Your Fashion Portfolio
  • Setting the Course ( Part 7 ):
    Developing an Action Plan for Your Fashion Career
  • Look Good on Paper ( Part 8 ):
    Writing a Fashion Resume and Cover Letter that will Get You in the Door
  • Preparation is the Key ( Part 9 ):
    Preparing for, and Mastering the Interview

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How to Become Fashion Designer ( Part 3 ) – Fashion Designer Skills 101

Important Skills that Fashion Schools – Don’t Cover Nearly Enough

In fashion school most of your time was spent learning how to draw fashion sketches, drape, sew, and create garment flat patterns. While these are certainly good skills for fashion designers to have, they aren’t very practical when you’re trying to land your first design job in the fashion industry. In the real world you’ll be expected to know how to draw fashion flat sketches, measure garment specs, and create CADs and presentation boards. I know some of you are thinking “But I learned those things in school too!.” To which I reply: “You think you know, but you have no idea!”

Apparel Draping and Patternmaking

Take it from experience: fashion schools don’t focus on the above skills nearly enough to fully prepare you for your first job in apparel design. Patternmaking and draping are valuable skills, which come in handy when you are dealing with a lot of apparel fittings. Usually garment fittings are conducted by technical designers, but if you are interested in a fashion design career for creative reasons, you’ll most likely be miserable in this type of position. On the creative side of fashion design, all you need is a basic understanding of what creates a good fit, and how to fix a bad one. In the vast majority of apparel designer positions, hands-on patternmaking skills are not necessary, unless you plan to enter Project Runway!

Sewing

On the creative side of fashion design, sewing is as relevant as patternmaking is for technical design. It’s good to understand the general concepts of garment construction, but you don’t need to be a seamstress. In the apparel industry, if you need to know how a certain garment is constructed, there are tons of references available: from apparel in clothing stores, to “how to” fashion design books and online articles. The point I’m trying to make is: if your sewing skills leave something to be desired, don’t stress over it.

Illustration

Sadly, fashion illustrations are a dying art in the fashion industry – they are very scarcely used by apparel designers in the real world. They take too much time and have no practical application. The fashion illustration has been replaced with computer drawn stylized garment sketches (floats) or more accurate technical flats (flat sketches), which are more popular for their practicality. Not only do they present a clear representation of the apparel design concept, but they are also a must have when it comes to garment production. Fashion flats can be turned into CADs and can be used in mood/presentation boards. Amazingly, fashion schools have not followed this industry shift, and still focus more heavily on fashion illustrations, and not enough on flat sketching.

Computer Programs

I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing popular computer applications for creating fashion flats, floats, and CAD sketches. Most apparel design companies expect proficiency in Adobe IllustratorAdobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel. These programs are relatively affordable in comparison to other fashion industry specific software, which run from $7Kto $30K per user – yikes! Unfortunately, the coverage of Illustrator and Photoshop provided by fashion schools does not meet the actual demands of the apparel industry. Many fashion companies also request knowledge of WebPDM, so if your fashion college offers a course in this program, it would be wise to take it. If your fashion school does not teach WebPDM, make it a point to find a school or venue that offers this program and take it!

On the Interview

It’s amazing how many fashion design candidates are rejected because they don’t know the most important basics. I’ll look at applicants’ fashion portfolios: filled with beautiful, well-drawn fashion illustrations and then say “That’s nice, but can you draw flat sketches?” If fashion flat sketches are included in their portfolios, they are usually very basic, lack important details, and are not visually appealing. If the candidate’s apparel sketches are halfway decent; my next question is “do you know Illustrator and Photoshop?” Almost everyone says yes,but when tested, it’s usually far from the truth. It’s not that they are lying… a lot of fashion design graduates and even professional designers seriously believe they know these programs well. They did well according to the fashion school standards; but fashion schools don’t teach how to use Illustrator and Photoshop for fashion designwell enough for entry level fashion designers to be competent in the demanding apparel industry. Fashion schools just cover the basics, which are quickly forgotten without practice. Take the extra effort to explore these and other CAD programs beyond what fashion schools teach: read books, find online courses and tutorials. Not only will you be ready with the skills you need to succeed in the fashion industry, but discussing how you went the extra mile to keep up with apparel industry standards will definitely impress any prospective employer!

Practice, practice, practice

My suggestion is to practice flat sketching as often as you can. Make sure you learn and are really comfortable with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for Fashion Design – what you’ve learned in fashion school is not enough!! To acquire additional knowledge: read books, take additional courses, (offered in either classroom or online settings). Take a look at industry standard examples of flat sketches. Our Fashion Flats section contains many free downloads of flat sketches in both JPEG and vector (Illustrator) formats for your reference. If you can improve your skills to reach the quality of those shown, you’ll be in very good shape. They are free for you to use. Please download them so you can also use them as slopers to trace and basics to work from.

Educate Yourself!

Many fashion schools such as FIT in New York (Fashion Institute of Technology) offer “Flats and Specs for the Fashion Industry” courses. But believe it or not, they are not required by the curriculum; they are electives! These are some of the most important skills that fashion design students should be learning. Another good elective course is “Creative Fashion Presentation” – this skill is very handy. Sales people use CAD fashion presentations a lot as visual aids. In addition they create a good impression and convey your creativity level. If you can make outstanding fashion presentations, you’ll be asked to make them often, and believe me: it’s much more fun to make presentation boards than do fittings, send faxes, and organize showrooms.

Creating Specs in a Copycat Industry

So now we can talk about specs (garment specifications). Knowing how to spec (measure and detail) a garment is a fundamental skill for a fashion designer. Many apparel companies create their fashion spec sheets using Microsoft Excel. Although garment sizes and measurements vary from one fashion company to another, if you know the principles, you’ll be able to quickly adapt to the standards of any company. You don’t even need to know how to develop apparel specs from scratch!

As a head fashion designer, I’ve had to make decisions on what garment spec standards to use. Often I simply went to different fashion stores, and found garments with good fit and copied the basic measurements. And this isn’t a rare practice – the fashion industry is a major copycat industry: most apparel that we see hanging in the stores are knock-offs of another fashion brand, who copied the design from another design brand, and so on. There are even official terms for copied fashions! A “knockoff” is when a style is copied, and a “rub-off” is when patterns are copied. Once, while I was on a European shopping trip in London, a sales person at a store noticed I was a fashion designer collecting design ideas for an upcoming season. He mentioned that his store received a constant flow of fashion designers from American design companies such as Calvin Klein, whose designers come to knockoff their merchandise. That’s right: even top fashion design brands use knockoffs for their ready-to-wear collections.

Givenchy Fall Winter 2010/2011 Haute Couture - Veladoras: long   corseted dress hand embroidered in an open lace design in golden thread,   fine gold chain and crystals worn with a tail coat embroidered with   hand cut gold metallic sequins and crystals; Coronos: long corseted   dress embroidered with hand cut gold metallic sequins and crystals

To sum it up: in order to get a job in the fashion industry before the rest of the entry level fashion design candidates, you need to focus on refining skills that are highly demanded in the apparel industry. Become proficient in drawing flat sketches and include apparel flats in your fashion portfolio, and be extremely comfortable and knowledgeable in Illustrator and Photoshop. Check out the My Practical Skills Store, where you’ll find our ebook tutorials for Adobe IllustratorAdobe PhotoshopMicrosoft Excel, and How to Spec a Garment for the Fashion Industry. Each ebook contains easy to follow tutorials, with illustrations every step of the way. They are designed to prepare you with comprehensive industry specific skills and foundations to give your fashion design career a competitive edge.

Source: designernexus.com

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Fashion Designer Career Information

Fashion Designers Overview

Fashion designers with a 2-year degree or 4-year degree in fashion design who are knowledgeable in fashion trends, fabric, and textiles are what employers are looking for. Due to the creativity and glamour of the job, there is a lot of competition to become a fashion designer. Most jobs for fashion designers are in California and New York.

Nature of the Work for Fashion Designers

Fashion Designers
Fashion designers study fashion trends, sketch designs of clothing and accessories, select colors and fabrics, and oversee the final production of their designs in order to produce clothing items and accessories that consumers want to purchase. Fashion designers can work in men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, including intimate apparel and maternity wear.


Many fashion designers specialize in clothing, footwear or accessories but some enjoy creating designs for all three. Between 18 and 24 months, fashion designers begin their design process and turn it into a final production. A fashion designer’s first step is to research trends in current fashion and to predict the trends that will follow. Whether they use trend reports or do their own research, fashion designers rely on the research to indicate what styles, colors, and fabrics will be popular in the upcoming season.

Trend reports and research are also important to textile manufacturers who use the information to begin designing patterns and fabric simultaneously with the fashion designer who is sketching the design. Once a fashion designer’s sketch is complete, the fashion designer and manufacturer meet to discuss fabric and pattern choices.

A prototype is created once the design and fabric are agreed upon which uses cheaper materials as a model to make any necessary adjustments.

Once a fashion designer make a decision, article samples are made and distributed to clothing retailers. Fashion designers can also see their design at fashion and trade shows throughout the year.

Though many fashion designers sketch by hand, many use computer-aided design (CAD) to translate the sketches into the computer where fashion designers can view their designs on virtual models.

The involvement of a fashion designer depends on the size of the design firm and experience. For large design firms, fashion designers usually take on the role as lead designer who create designs, choose colors and fabric and oversee the technical designers responsible for turning the idea into a final product. Large firms may also employ their own pattern makers and tailors as well. For fashion designers working in smaller firms, a bulk of their work includes overseeing technical aspects, pattern making, and sewing. Some fashion designers choose to work for apparel wholesalers or manufacturers. This involves fashion designers to design for the masses where designs come in various colors and sizes.

Many fashion designers are also self-employed and design for individual clients as well as those who sell their designs to retail or specialty stores. Fashion designers in costume design for motion picture, performing arts or television productions perform extensive research on certain styles and eras and then draw sketches, select fabrics and oversee production. They may also be restricted to a costume budget.

Fashion designers employed by manufacturing establishments, wholesalers, or design firms will usually work normal and regular hours while those who freelance can either work by job or under a contract. Freelance fashion designers can work long hours in smaller environments where pressure is intense from clients. Whether fashion designers work in large firms, small firms, or freelance, long hours will occasionally be necessary for all fashion designer who have to meet deadlines or prepare for fashion shows.

Communication is essential for fashion designers who are constantly dealing with suppliers, customers and manufactures.

Fashion designers may also need to travel for fashion shows or to get fabric.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Fashion Designers

A fashion designer typically needs an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in fashion design in order to find employment. Fashion designers who may be thinking about running their own business or store may also combine a fashion design degree with a business,marketing, or fashion merchandising degree. Typical courses for an associate or bachelor’s degree in fashion design includes color, textiles, sewing and tailoring, pattern making, fashion history and computer-aided design (CAD). Taking courses in human anatomy, mathematics, and psychology can also be useful for understanding the body and how to run a company.

Around 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Most schools expect a basic art or design course to be completed before formal admittance into a program is allowed. Sketches may also be requested before admittance.

Interning, working at manufacturing firms, working at retail stores or with a personal stylist can help fashion designers learn the necessary skills of the industry.

Those who want to become successful fashion designers can also enter their designs into amateur or student contents.

Fashion designers must have a strong aesthetic, good communication skills, be able to problem solve and sketch. A good portfolio is also important for an aspiring fashion designer to have. The ability to work well in teams is also important for fashion designers who will remain in contact with manufacturers, supplies, and buyers.

Though design is a big part of becoming a fashion designer, they must also be knowledgeable in pattern making and sewing. Knowledge of these skills will make it easier for fashion designers to instruct others on how garments should be constructed.

Those starting out as fashion designers usually begin as sketching assistants for pattern markers. After working for an experienced designer, fashion designers may be able to advance to such positions as design department head or chief designer.

Some fashion designers also go on to start their own business or begin selling their designs to stores.

Top 10 Most Popular Fashion / Apparel Schools

1. Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, New York)
2. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising – Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
3. The New School (New York, New York)
4. Academy of Art University (San Francisco, California)
5. International Academy of Design and Technology (Multiple Campus Locations)
6. Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa)
7. Katharine Gibbs School – New York City (New York, New York)
8. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Georgia)
9. The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
10. Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond (Richmond, Virginia)

See All Fashion/Apparel Design Schools

Online School: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division

Employment and Job Outlook for Fashion Designers

Number of People in Profession

15,780

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to little or no change (decrease or increase by 2%).

Job Opportunities & Competition

May face, or can expect, keen competition for job opportunities. Job openings may be fewer than job seekers.

About 15,780 jobs are held by fashion designers, 31 percent work for apparel, piece goods, and wholesalers while 13 percent work for apparel manufacturers.

With a high demand for clothing, footwear, and accessories, some new jobs may open for fashion designers. Middle-income consumers are demanding affordable yet stylish clothing which means fashion designers will be needed in apparel wholesalers.

Since most apparel manufacturing is done overseas, cut and sew manufacturing jobs will likely decline.

Design firms that design mass-market clothing in department stores and retail stores will offer the most job opportunities for fashion designers.

Earnings and Salary for Fashion Designers

Median annual wages for salaried fashion designers are $64,260. The middle 50 percent earn between $44,110 and $90,020. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $32,320, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $130,900.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Source: Campusexplorer.com

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