As we’re going through hiring freezes, furloughs or layoffs, maximizing the potential of your workforce in their current roles or empowering them to manage new tasks to help the business pivot is critical. In this post, MOTIF’s CEO, Catherine Cole reflects on how using the right terminology helps shaping a learning and training strategy and defining the steps to future-proof careers and businesses.
Top 10 Fashion Design Skills for the Future
Fashion designing is no longer just about art, creativity, or design. The world we live in is evolving technologically, so is the realm of fashion. Designers are now starting to leverage these technological advancements and merge them with fashion to create extraordinary work that speaks for itself.
Whether it is for a fashion line or ready-to-wear range, designers are creating ingenious designs that are pioneering as a new frontier in the world of fashion. If you dream of being the next Coco Chanel or Ralph Lauren, it’s important to break the mould and work towards refining your art and skills.
Let’s first review the main responsibilities of a fashion designer, then look at how you can improve your fashion designing skills, and finally examine the top 9 fashion designing skills you will need to be a successful designer in the future.
What are the main responsibilities of a fashion designer?
As a fashion designer, you will be expected to create and assist in the development of clothing, footwear, and accessories. A key skill is the ability to identify trends, create silhouettes, select colours, fabrics, prints, trims and build them into a collection.
As a fashion designer, your core duties will include:
- • Developing concepts and producing designs, either by CAD or hand.
- • Staying tuned with emerging fashion trends related to colours, fabrics and key shapes.
- • Analysing designs from a technical perspective which can involve producing and creating specifications.
- • Adapting existing designs for the mass fashion production.
- • Collaborating with the wider development team and buyers to develop products.
- • Interacting with sales executives to discuss the upcoming ideas for designing.
- • Identifying the target market for designs based on criteria such as age, gender, and socio-economic status.
Character traits to become a successful fashion designer
Over time, you can develop a wide range of skills that will help you to thrive in your job. In addition, some innate or trained character traits can boost your chances of becoming a successful fashion designer. Here are a selected few
The fashion industry is well known for its hard work environment where you may experience rejection as part of your job. It takes a lot of confidence to present your projects to retailers, stakeholders, buyers and other designers. Remember that this is a long-term race and it takes time and effort to develop a reputation in the industry, and you will need tons of confidence to reach your goals.
As we mentioned, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to become a renowned fashion designer. The shooting star cases are extremely rare in the industry; you will need to arm yourself with patience and never give up when adversity comes.
If a designer has a lot of personality and persuasion, it will be easier for him/her to deal with customers, the press and decision makers. This doesn’t mean that a designer who decides to stay away from the spotlight can’t succeed on his/her talent alone; however, he or she will need someone else to do the promotion and delivering his or her messages to the right ears.
These qualities can be learned and nurtured to transform you into a better designer.
Do I need a degree to become a fashion designer?
Although fashion designers use their creativity and talent to create product, getting an educational degree is still highly recommended. A formal education in fashion equips you with theoretical knowledge on the industry and some level of practical knowledge if it is combined with internships or apprenticeships or real-life professional projects.
Often though it neglects some of the fundamental hard skills and in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the industry for the glamour of fashion brand management and marketing. And it doesn’t yet incorporate enough technology skills into the curriculum.
So remember that it is not just all about sketching and the glitz of the catwalk; you will have to work hard and develop a solid foundation and learn new skills and qualities during your career if you want to keep up with the pace of change in the industry.
What skills will a fashion designer need for the future?
Fashion design has come a long way from the mere art of designing clothes. It has evolved into a full-fledged industry and is now considered a highly desirable career worldwide.
Nowadays, apparel & footwear is not simply designed based on colour or style choices but also on function, customer behavioural preferences and emerging trends. Innovative technologies and social media trends are transforming the fashion world at a faster pace than ever.
To keep up with where the industry is going, here is our list of 9 skills that a fashion designer will need in the future:
Whether you want to be a fashion designer or trying to get a level-up in this field, creativity will be your fundamental asset. When you look at a piece of fabric, you should have enough creativity to envision what it is going to look like in a garment. How the material will work and what design will suit it best. Moreover, if you are creative, you will always be equipped with new style ideas. It is a core skill that enables you to deliver something significant from scratch.
2. 3D Designing Skills
In the age of social media, fashion trends come and go faster than ever. If you want to seize the trends and capitalise on the opportunity, you will need to reduce the time that your designs need to go to market. Implementing 3D in the design and development process can drastically shorten your design-to-market time. With 3D designing skills, you will be able to achieve faster decision-making, accelerate the development process and reduce the number of physical samples for your collection, which also brings significant sustainability benefits.
3D Transformation: The Why, What & How
3. Excellent Visualisation Skills
The better your visualisation skills are, the more efficient you will be in bringing your ideas to reality. Acquiring and honing your visualisation skills will enable you to see the finished product before it is made and put the ideas on paper in a way that allows others to grasp them as well. Whether you are designing for men, women, or kids, you should have the capability to see if something is even a quarter of an inch off and anticipate future fit problems in your designs.
4. Digital Drawing and Sketching
With digital drawing and sketching, visualising your design becomes easier than ever. Digital tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop have been used in the industry for over 20 years now and are considered a basic skill for any designer when making flat illustrations or sketches. These digital sketches contain important information about your garments such as the type of pattern, size specifications, design and other details that cannot be explained through a hand-sketch.
Many companies have already started leveraging these techniques so the design can be easily altered, corrected or reused. And with the whole industry going digital, it is important for you to thoroughly master these skills and tools as we move from 2D CAD design to 3D product creation and additional software tools you will have to pick up in the transition
5. Strong Communication Skills
The fragmented world of fashion relies on collaboration and communication. You must be able to communicate with buyers, suppliers, other designers and team members.
Before the production of a fashion line starts, you must explain the designs to your team and answer all their questions. You also might be expected to liaise with manufacturer on styling, fabric and garment construction to ensure the design integrity of your product is maintained and executed in production.
You should have the skills to negotiate with manufacturers and suppliers, pitch the collection to the target audience and spread your message to customers. Here is where strong communication skills will ease your efforts to launch your fashion brand or manage your collection seamlessly.
6. Ability to Multitask
The tasks of a fashion designer are not limited to just sketch designs or source materials and fabrics. Fashion designers are expected to work and collaborate across different fields at the same time such as production, public relations, promotions, assisting events, and more.
As a result, it is important that you can manage everything efficiently and stay organized to get the best results.
7.Care for the Environmental and Social Impact of Fashion
It is not a secret that fashion is a big contributor to pollution and global warming and doesn’t have an impeccable track record when it comes to ethical labour practices. However, the industry is taking steps towards sustainability.
Having the ability to incorporate sustainable strategies in your garment and collection design and development at each step of the process will make you stay ahead in the industry while making a positive impact on the world. You can learn how sustainability can be an asset for your business with the MOTIF’s online course Sustainability in Fashion.
Sustainability in Fashion Online Course
8. Master the Social Network & Influencers’ world
The leading social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest serve as a runway and marketing medium for the fashion industry.
Teaming up with the right influencers can expose your collection and lines to a much larger audience than the traditional media in a much faster way. For example, in 2016, the popular fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger announced Gigi Hadid as a global brand ambassador for their fall collection of that year.
As the model is well-known and has a great relationship with her fans through social platforms over the world this collaboration brought the brand to the attention of a wider base of potential new customers.
So, whether you want to promote your new collection or reach a new set of audience, you need to master social media tactics and best practices such as posting times, content formatting, and hashtags in order to include them into your marketing strategy effectively.
9. Analysing Big Data
The power of the internet means we now connect with our consumers in a very different way. The ability to analyse customer data and interrupt this information into trends and product lines has become a fundamental skill for a designer of the today. You have to be both creative and analytical to deliver fashion which is also commercial in this very competitive market.
10. Develop Business Acumen
To thrive in the world of fashion, you must have a sharp business sense, whether you have to manage the finances of your team, sales of a fashion line, or decide on the pricing strategy for your collection or the marketing budget.
This goes beyond intuition and basic financial skills. Successful and perennial businesses are those who take the right decision based on the correct insights they derive from their data and market data. Being data-oriented and capable of understanding the expectations and needs of your target audience and customers based on their behavioural data will be crucial. Your creativity will need to be informed by data alongside the many traditional sources of inspirations that will fuel your designs.
You also need to have the expertise to quickly spot new competitors, detect solid trends vs fads, and major shifts in the industry, so that you can adapt your designs to stay ahead of the market.
Get ready for the future and improve your fashion designing skills
In this article, we have pointed out how a successful fashion designer needs to work in multiple evolving aspects during his or her professional career. Regardless of whether you are an experienced fashion designer or starting a career in fashion design; you need to keep improving your skills.
There are many resources available to upskill, you can nurture your general knowledge by reading articles, attending conferences, or watching tutorials. If you want proper training and to dive into specific topics and hard skills such as sustainable fashion, apparel costing, fit or 3D product development, you can learn from leading practitioners at your own pace taking online courses on MOTIF.
Remember that you are not alone in this race, listen to other designers and share your experience with them, don’t be afraid of embracing new challenges, keep learning and bring innovation to the industry.