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Designer: Provides the creative force and fashion designs that determine what's hot and what's not in the fashion world
Pattern Maker: Translates designers' sketches into wearable works of art by using technical skills to create sample garments
Textile Designer: Creates the textile palette for designers in industries ranging from apparel to upholstery
Merchandiser: Draws upon international and domestic sources to determine the best combination of supplies to create finished garments
Trim Buyer: Scouts out the top suppliers of buttons, zippers, and miscellaneous pieces that hold a garment together
There are different theories on what it takes to be a designer. However, most fashion experts would agree that design, one of fashion's most competitive and exciting fields, requires technical and art training, leadership, ingenuity, highly-developed patternmaking skills, and a keen understanding of the aesthetic as well as the practical and cost-effective. Design also calls for absolute dedication. Some of most successful designers refer to their vocation as an "obsession" or a "way of life." How else would they be able to survive the grueling hours, low entry-level pay, and lack of guarantees? ~
The first step toward becoming a designer is reconsidering your decision. Our insiders say there is no shame in being a realist: "Fashion students often come in bright-eyed and idealistic. They think they are ready for the hard work and difficult hours so long as they can have the glamour too. What they don't realize is that very, very few designers hit it big." Aspiring designers also err when it comes to focus. "You have to think about what consumers really want," advises another source. "It's vital to know the realities of the job market. Pay attention to what people are going to buy rather than what you want to create." And it never hurts to look at your other options. "Students don't know that there are a hundred other jobs in fashion besides design," says an insider from a New York fashion school. "There are trim buyers, pattern makers, sample makers, quality control experts, and fashion consultants. Often, these jobs are not only better-paying, they are 100 percent more secure."
For those who have listened to the naysayers and still want to be designers, the advice is: go for it. Insiders from such famous New York City fashion schools as Pratt, Parsons, and FIT all admit that someone has to be the next Donna Karan or Calvin Klein. Why not you? If you think you have the guts, the talent, and the backbone, "go global and go for the top," declares one enthusiastic source. Just remember that the climb may take some time. "It's very rare for a young fashion designer to set up his own label immediately after graduation," confesses a source. In reality, most graduates will spend five or more years working for a designer, gaining experience, earning a reputation, and making contacts. Some fashion professionals will even start a design career outside of the field. Internships at major fashion houses or other jobs, such as pattern work or retail, can sometimes launch you into design. The bottom line: don't be too hasty. And don't disregard a job offer until you have fully explored its growth potential.
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