Fashion Design Career Path: Is It Right for You?

Is the glam fashion industry the right choice for you? Here’s all about the fashion design career path by Nalini Sharma, a fashion designer with 23+ years of experience.


1. Fashion Design Career Path

Fashion design is the art of designing and curating outfits for people based on a lot of social and psychological factors. It is about understanding personality, attitude and designing clothes for society as well as individuals accordingly to enhance self-esteem and confidence of a person.

Fashion designers take into consideration the purpose and the target audience of the design while working on it. They need to design clothes keeping in mind the need of the society, the end user’s style and occasion to enhance self-esteem of a person. It requires creativity, sketching skills, communication skills and ability to work in and with a team.

garment construction mannequin

Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Industry/Sector
1.2 Social Image
1.3 Reasons to Become a Fashion Designer
2.1 Personality Traits Required
2.2 Physical Demands
2.3 Psychological Demands
3.1 Extra-Curricular Activities Recommended
3.2 Related Hobbies to Take Up
3.3 Related Movies/ TV Shows
3.4 Related Fiction to Read/ Novels
4.1 Part-Time Options
4.2 Traveling Required
4.3 Average Workday/What to Expect
5.1 Retirement Prospects
5.2 Threats from Automation
5.3 Common Reasons for People to Quit

1.1 Industry/Sector

Retail, manufacturing sectors

Fashion designers have a lot of scope in multiple sectors related to the fashion and apparel industry. The sectors that require the employment of fashion designers the most are the retail industry, fashion export houses, garment manufacturing companies, fashion labels, etc. Incidentally, India is also one of the largest apparel exporters in the world.

1.2 Social Image

Highly respectable.

With the advent of social media and increase in socializing, people want to be seen well dressed for all occasions. Therefore, professionals from fashion designing are perceived as very important and respectable.

Even representation on international platforms like fashion shows and Olympics require fashion designers. This boosts the social image of the profession immensely. A lot of industries like film, media and fashion add to the social image of fashion designers. They add to the employment demand and wide fame of the profession.

social image of fashion designer- work profile

1.3 Reasons to Become a Fashion Designer

Creative fulfilment, travel opportunities, meeting new people.

The fashion industry provides lot of creative fulfilment and exposure. It is challenging and also offers opportunity to travel and meet a lot of people. A fashion designer helps one feel confident and be expressive on a lot of different occasions and instances.

2. What It Takes to Be a Fashion Designer?

2.1 Personality Traits Required/ Preferred

Creativity, hard-working, open to criticism, confidence, leadership qualities, passion.

Being a fashion designer requires creativity, empathy, having a pleasant approach and ability to interact with customers to understand their requirements. Fashion designers also have to work in teams, which requires them to be considerate and good listeners. They also have to be open to feedback and criticism.

As fashion designers design with a certain user in mind, they need to be accommodative to consumer demands and changes in order to offer desired quality of products and services.

2.2 Physical Demands

Long working hours and some outdoor work.

Like all other professions, it requires hard work. Sometimes one may have to work long hours and travel. All these factors also depend on where you work, the industry and the company. A fashion designer also has deadlines and work pressure, which may demand more exertion than usual.

I sometimes have to work on things like the designs and the material or the embroidery for hours on end with my team. This requires a lot of patience and dedication. A fashion design career aspirant should have the ability to focus on tasks for long durations.

basic physical demands of fashion design profession

2.3 Psychological Demands

Dealing with the pressure and workload from clients while also keeping up to date with latest changes in the industry.

Fashion design career deals with people, their personal perceptions and their social life. What a person wears affects his/her/their confidence, attitude, social image and their poise.

Fashion designers have to take all these psychological factors in consideration when trying to design for a particular set of people or even a single person. This helps the end user feel confident and comfortable.

3. How to Build Interest in a Fashion Design Career?

3.1 Extracurricular Activities Recommended

Sketching, embroidery, sewing , knitting, color theory related activities

Extracurriculars could be different crafts that develop your attention to detail and precision. Painting, sketching and having a well-developed imagination is also essential to bring your thoughts to life. Other activities like embroidery, knitting and sewing can help develop skills that are necessary for a fashion designer.

For extracurriculars, a fashion design aspirant can also brush up their knowledge on different cultural crafts and traditional wears of India. A fashion designer should have the knowledge about different cultures and designs that have originated from specific regions.

3.2 Related Hobbies to Take Up

Sketching, stitching, fashion related movies and documentaries

Hobbies like sketching and illustrating or even painting are always helpful in developing your skill set for fashion design career. Taking interest in arts and crafts of different regions, artistically inclined games and the changes in the fashion industry is important as an aspirant.

Any team game which helps in working with cross functional teams and ability to transfer one’s thoughts on paper can also help if you are considering the fashion design career path.

3.3 Related Movies/TV Shows

There are a lot of fashion related movies and TV shows that explore the clothing through decades. These shows talk about the evolution of fashion and help understand the importance of it. Some are also about the current aspects and leaders of the fashion industry.

A few related movies and TV shows that showcase some really wonderful and glamorous outfits and fashion stories are as follows:

  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (2018)
  • Franca: Chaos and Creation (2016)
  • Next in Fashion (2020)
  • Coco Avant Chanel (2009)
  • Dior and I (2014)
  • Yves Saint Laurent (2014)
  • Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer (2015)
  • The Great Gatsby (2013)
1 Coco-Before-Chanel-finest-fashion-biopic

3.4 Non-Academic Books to Read

Fashion magazines can be very useful to read for the latest trends and who’s who of fashion. There are some really amazing autobiographies and novels that give interesting details about the fashion world for an aspirant. A few of them are mentioned below:

  • “The Little Dictionary of Fashion” by Christian Dior
  • “Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior” by Christian Dior
  • “The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius, and Glorious Excess in 1970s” by Alicia Drake
  • “Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon” by Megan Hess
  • “D.V.” by Diana Vreeland
dramatic picturization of mannequins

4. Life as a Fashion Designer

4.1 Part Time Options

Right qualifications required. It is a job with heavy workload and requires full time work

Fashion designers can work part time as long as they have the right qualifications for it. They can also do freelancing and have flexible work hours.

As for part time, one needs to at least have a certificate in fashion design. The right qualifications and work efficiency can enable the person in question to learn a lot from even part time jobs or internships.

4.2 Travelling Requirements

Little to none; depends on job profile.

Not all fashion design jobs require travelling. Since fashion designers can work in a lot of different segments of the industry, it is possible that travelling might be a requirement for a few of them. Although, it is completely based on the kind of company you work for and your job profile.

Fashion designers who are freelancers might need to travel for work too, for customers who have their work centers in different cities. It all depends on what kind of organization you work for and what role you are performing.

For fashion design coordinators, buying agents, there are lot of travelling opportunities, not just domestically but also internationally.

Is Fashion Designing a easy career

4.3 Average Workday

For fashion designers, an average day depends on what kind of organization you work for and what role you are performing. As for me, since I run a boutique of my own, usually my day starts with meeting customers, reviewing production, new designs, meeting suppliers and vendors, etc.

I design for any client depending upon the season or occasion, keeping in mind the personality of the client. Accordingly, decide on the fabric or sometimes the fabric is chosen first according to the client’s taste. Then I design based on the specifications given to me and the occasion I am designing for.

Firstly, it depends on what kind of cuts and style to be given, whether it needs any embellishments or not. Secondly, if there are any embellishments, the process will be decided based on the type of embellishment. For example, if it is embroidery then the material for embroidery is decided based on the type of embroidery to be done.

If there are any other specifications like printing, knotting, dyeing, patchwork or hand painting, then I take in account the colors and contact the client about it to finalize on a few.

I often spend a lot of time with my team, discussing different projects for various clients and their needs. I explain what is to be done on each project and check the sampling my team provides me with. After everything is verified, the production of the final piece starts.

As I own my boutique, I also have to check with the inventory and the machinery. I put in order the finances and the client list to keep everything accessible and up to date.

fashion collection gallery- fashion design career construction garment

5. Future of Fashion Design Career Path

5.1 Retirement Prospects

At 58-60 years of age.

Retirement age depends upon the organization you work for, which in India is usually 58 years or 60 years. However, if you are self-employed, then it all depends on you till what age you want to work. After retirement, you can choose to become a guest lecturer in a fashion school or opt for mentorship. You can also take up a part time design position depending on your interest and will to continue working on your fashion design career.

Is Fashion Designing a good career in future india

5.2 Threats from Automation

Automation poses very little threat to the field of fashion design.

According to me, AI and Automation will improve the quality of design and enhance production. Already, CAD/CAM are of great help in the production. With better machinery, the error rate also goes down and the process of production can be completed at a much faster pace.

5.3 Common Reasons for People to Quit the Fashion Design Career Path

Common reasons for people to quit fashion design career could be the heavy workload, the patience, interest in a different segment of fashion or a different field of work, better opportunities in teaching positions or other fields of interest and so on. Moreover, the reasons to quit fashion design vary from individual to individual and are very difficult to pinpoint or generalize.


Curated & Edited by Sakshi Lokhande (CareerNuts Staff)

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