Fashion is an exciting fast paced industry that offers up a wide range of important roles, beyond the coveted fashion designer title. This Creative Careers Guide introduces some of the key roles, and the skills required to do them, as follows:
A fashion designer is someone who designs clothes, accessories and shoes for consumers and retail companies. Fashion designers can work alone setting up their own label or as part of team if working on mass-produced or specialised ranges for a company. A fashion designer will spot and create fashion trends influenced by popular cultural and social attitudes, sketch designs and select materials.
Skills required: The ability to spot trends, a good eye for colour, texture and shape, technical skills like pattern cutting and sewing, not all fashion designers know how to illustrate their ideas, but drawing skills is a big advantage.
A tailor specialises in creating made-to-measure clothing to fit their clients, this is known as Bespoke or Custom Tailoring. Tailors have expert pattern cutting, sewing and hand sewing skills, and may also undertake repairs and alterations. Tailors are usually linked to the area of men’s suiting and clothing. Historically men were tailors and women were seamstresses but the lines have now blurred and when used as a general term the word tailor now stands for both.
Skills required: Accuracy and an eye for detail, technical skills such as pattern cutting and hand and machine sewing.
See tailor above
A pattern cutter creates the patterns from the fashion designer’s drawings and sketches that are needed to produce the designs. The patterns can be created using either hand drawing skills or computer.
Skills required: Drafting and knowledge of how to make and cut a pattern, the ability to interpret the fashion designer’s drawings, a good knowledge of mathematics to be able to calculate measurements, accuracy, technical drawing, an understanding of the different shapes and proportions of the body.
A pattern grader’s role is to create the different sizes of pattern needed to produce the clothes for the market. This is done by enlarging or reducing the patterns created by the pattern cutter.
Skills required: Similar to the pattern cutter, a knowledge of pattern making; good drafting and mathematic skills for accurate calculations.
A garment technologist is responsible for selecting the appropriate fabrics for the fashion designers design to ensure that the design can be produced within the allocated budget. Garment technologists usually work with pattern graders to ensure that the sizing and fitting is correct and also to test the pre-production process of the garments.
Skills required: Knowledge of the different types fabrics and how they behave and pattern cutting techniques.
The fabric cutter takes the patterns and cuts out the fabric pieces required to make up the designs. The fabric cutter can be involved in the fabric selections and will know how to reduce wastage of fabric.
Skills required: An eye for detail, knowledge of how fabrics behave.
A sample machinist creates the first sample of a new design and works closely with the fashion designer, pattern cutter and hand sewer to make sure that the design is correct. The sample will then be used to create the product specifications.
Skills required: Machine sewing skills, finishing, knowledge of how fabrics behave and eye for detail.
A machinist will produce the finished designs based on the approved sample. The machinist may also add decorative trimmings, embroidery, buttons, zips or other fastenings.
Skills required: Machine sewing skills, finishing, knowledge of how fabrics behave and an eye for detail.
Hand sewers are usually highly specialised sewers who work on high quality products, for example couture. Hand sewers are skilled at embroidery, beading and bespoke clothing creation.
Skills required: Excellent sewing and finishing skills, knowledge of how fabrics behave, accuracy and an eye for detail.
The quality controller’s role is to monitor the quality standards for the all the designs produced to make sure that they meet the required standard for retail. Based on their findings, the quality controller will create reports on the pass and fail percentage of the produced designs to enable the factory catch and correct any faults.
Skills required: Good concentration, an eye for detail and be able to read and understand technical spec sheets.
RETAIL AND SALES
A merchandiser is responsible for promoting the designs and other goods that are for sale. Activities include presenting the latest collections to buyers and retail outlets.
Skills required: Commercial awareness, understanding of target markets, communication skills to build good relationships with buyers and retailers, strong numerical and analytical skills and good decision-making abilities.
A buyer works is responsible for selecting the designs that will appear in the retail stores. Buyers work for department stores, chain stores or boutiques. A buyer will work closely with the fashion designer and/or their sales representatives. Buyers will visit trade fairs, wholesale showrooms and fashion shows to see the latest trends. They may.
Skills required: Awareness of current trends, understanding the needs and requirements of their customers, commercial awareness, good communication, strong numerical and analytical skills and good decision-making abilities.
Boutique / shop owners provide a platform for showcasing the fashion designers products to consumers. Boutique / Shop owners provide their clientele with the place to get new clothing product and shop for the latest trends.
Skills required: Knowledge of buying, merchandising, marketing, PR and styling; strong numerical and analytical skills, knowledge of the latest trends and the needs of their customer.
A window dresser is responsible for arranging the displays of products in the shop window or on the shop floor.
Skills required: Knowledge of product styling; creative flair and imagination, understanding of the label the work for and how to translate this in a visually appealing way.
Fashion illustrators visualise clothing designs drawing and sketching by hand or with computer programmes. The drawings created by fashion illustrators are often presented to fashion stylists and buyers, and also used by the fashion label for promotion and sales.
Skills required: Good drawing and sketching, knowledge of the different types of techniques and tools such as software, imagination and creative thinking
A fashion publicist is responsible for generating and maintaining the desired image and reputation of the fashion designer and the fashion label in the media and promotes their clients to a public interested in fashion. Publicists create the promotional campaigns and set up activities such as launch parties, photo opportunities and partnerships.
Skills required: Good communication and networking, creativity, writing, research and an international mindset.
Editor incl. Editor-in-Chief
The editor is a senior-level journalist who sets the style and tone for a print or digital publication, choosing the content, written work, the type of articles and photography.
The Editor-in-Chief is the most senior person who oversees the entire publication and has the final say on what is included, and also represents the publication at social functions.
Skills required: Exceptional writing and editing skills, leadership, decision-making and good communication, creative with an eye for detail, understanding of target readers, awareness of and anticipating social and cultural trends.
Journalist / see Magazines
A journalist writes about the industry from the clothing and accessories to the key players, personalities and developments for magazines, newspapers, and websites. A journalist’s responsibilities may include attending fashion shows and studying and interviewing fashion designers and reviewing celebrity fashions and keeping up to date with existing and future trends, and researching the industry.
Skills Required: Exceptional writing and editing skills, copy editing, good communication, understanding of target readers, awareness of and anticipating social and cultural trends, good story telling and an ability to write across different platforms.
Bloggers and Influencers
A blogger is someone who regularly updates and maintains a website comprising a series of individual posts. Blogs can be updated daily, weekly or monthly. Blogs can be written or solely picture based. Blogs are also used by businesses to promote themselves and their products. Bloggers can turn their blogs into businesses by monetizing through various income streams such as selling ads, writing book, designing their own clothing lines and partnering with fashion brands who give them products to promote to their audiences.
Influencers do not own their own websites, but instead build their personal brands and audiences on social media platforms such as Instagram. They are rated by the number of followers they have, which attracts brands to work with them by paying influencers to wear their clothes, attend fashion shows and parties on the understanding that they will share with their audience and by doing so influence them to purchase.
Skills Required: Knowledge of trends, software, an engaging style, confidence and a strong personal brand, writing, editing, styling and modelling, photography, photo editing, web design or web maintenance, PR and AD sales.
A stylist someone who selects clothing and accessories for editorial features, in print and digital publications, for print, digital or television advertising campaigns, music videos, concert performances, and public appearances made by celebrities, models, and other public figures. Stylists will work closely with fashion designers and fashion labels, usually borrowing items for these events that are later returned.
Skills Required: Knowledge of trends, creative flair, eye for detail, good communication and relationship building.
Hairdresser / Hair stylist
A hairdresser /hair stylist shampoos, cuts, colours, and styles hair to enhance or maintain a person’s appearance.
Skills required: Creativity, good teamwork, a tactful manner, communication, listening to their client, learning new ideas and techniques, attention to detail, cleanliness and good personal grooming.
A make up artist applies make up to create a desired look that their client requires for an occasion i.e. wedding or production i.e. film. Make up artists work for individuals, publications, brands, fashion shows, television, theatre, video and film studios. Make up artists can specialise in prosthetics for the medical, and entertainment industries where they would need to work closely with production designers, costume designers, camera and lighting crew, and performers to achieve the desired effects.
Skills required: Creativity and imagination, good communication, a tactful, friendly manner, attention to detail, stamina, patience and concentration, research and learning new ideas and techniques.
A model works to promote, display or advertise commercial products, in particular fashion clothing. A model can also pose for artist and photographers. In a fashion show a model is required to stand, turn, and walk down a runway to show off the fashion designer’s designs to an audience comprising of photographers, editors, journalists, designers, buyers, celebrities, bloggers and influencers.
Skills Required: Good grooming and caring of the appearance, confidence, self-reliance and discipline, good people skills, stamina, patience, concentration and fitness to cope with long, tiring days and travelling especially during the busy fashion week seasons.
The backstage of fashion shows are usually quite hectic and models are required to change clothes quickly, and they do this with the aid of a dresser. A dresser makes sure that the models they are assigned to are dressed on time and correctly for their turn down the runway. A dresser will know each look and the accessories that need to go with.
Skills Required: Stamina, patience, concentration and fitness to cope with long, tiring days and demanding schedule, self-reliance and discipline, good people skills.