How to Become a Fashion Designer in India

With the beautiful fashion week appearances and everlasting demand in the fashion industry, the industry holds a certain allure. Nalini Sharma, a fashion designer with 23 years of experience shares how you can become a fashion designer in India.

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1. Role of a Fashion Designer

A fashion designer is a professional who works in the fashion industry and designs apparel. They create designs, choose the patterns and the fabrics, embellishments and then guide and supervise the manufacturing process of the final garment.

Fashion designers need to have strong social and communication skills to know exactly what the client or the customer wants and they also need a lot of patience to work for hours on end to meet the exact demands of the customers.

As a fashion designer, one of the main goals is to create garments that are trendy and in demand while also keeping the process ethical and non polluting.

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Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Is Being a Fashion Designer a Good Career Option?
2.1 Courses Taken: Fashion Design Subjects
2.2 Entrance Exams
2.3 Academic Qualifications/ Options
2.4 License Required
2.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required
2.6 Cost of Tuition and Training
2.7 Competition & Scope in India for a Fashion Designer
2.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Fashion Designers
2.9 Governing Bodies
3.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions
3.2 Companies & Institutions that Employ Fashion Designers
3.3 Growth Prospects
3.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities
3.5 What is the Salary of Fashion Designers in India?
4.1 Top Universities in India
4.2 Top Universities in World
4.3 Famous Personalities
4.4 Useful Links

1. 1 Difference between a Fashion Designer and a Textile Designer

Textile design is a branch of design concerned with construction of fabric whereas fashion design is associated with the construction of garments.

Textile designers usually create prints and patterns, are responsible for construction, manipulation and decoration of knitted or printed fabrics. This field also includes subjects like textile processing and weave design. Creating patterns, prints, and deciding on fabric structure keeping in mind the characteristic properties of the concerned fiber and fabric are a few aspects that a textile designer’s job profile consists of.

Monitoring pre and post processing and dyeing of fabrics are also integral parts of textile design and the manufacturing process of textiles. Moreover, textile designing includes creative exploration of fabrics for home as well as apparels.

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Also read: Textile Design Career Path: Is Textile Designing a Good Career?

Fashion design deals with garment construction. That includes, pattern making, styling, learning about the history of fashion and trends. Fashion design covers every aspect of the fashion industry. Be it social, economic, ecological or cultural, all of it comes under this field.

Fashion design caters to apparel for all genders and is also concerned with fashion and lifestyle accessories. Certainly this particular career has received major popularity in the past decade and is romanticized by a lot of young students.

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In conclusion, textile design is a more back-end job as compared to fashion design, since if apparel was the category to be worked on, a textile designer’s job would be to make/ decide fabrics, to create prints, to manipulate the fabric for fashion designers to use and consume, so that they could make garments out of the same fabric.

2. How to Become a Fashion Designer in India?

2.1.1 Subjects Taken in School

NIFT and various other private institutes offer courses the field of fashion designing in India. Admission to NIFT is based on all India entrance test after class 12. However, it is not necessary to take a particular structure in 11th and 12th to be eligible for the NIFT entrance, since one can give the entrance through science, arts or commerce.

General knowledge and current affairs help a lot for the entrance tests of not just NIFT but other colleges as well. Colleges would usually ask for a portfolio too.

Those applying for colleges abroad, you need a portfolio and a SAT score (varies from institution to institution), which would be better through the science field, and subjects like PCM (physics, chemistry, math). Although biology would not be a requirement.

2.1.2 Key Subjects Taken in College for Fashion Design: Course Requirements

The key subjects to become a fashion designer in India are related to forms, patterns and fabric study. Some of the core subjects are as follows:

  • Pattern Making
  • Indian Costume Study
  • Fashion Design and Illustrations
  • Garment Construction
  • Styling and Image Creation
  • Draping
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2.2 Entrance Exam

Usually, Indian colleges have entrance exams and interview rounds. National colleges like NIFT, have an all-India entrance exam followed by a studio test round, selection for which is based on one’s performance in the first test.

Other private institutions have different criteria of evaluation, which range from entrance test to interviews based on portfolios or practical studio tests. These vary from institution to institution. Colleges abroad have different criteria altogether. Such as the GRE for masters and the SAT’s for bachelor’s might also be required based on the course specifications.

Additionally, you’ll also need to submit a portfolio and essay. These too differ depending on the institution in question. The TOEFL or IELTS scores would also be required to test the applicant’s English proficiency.

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2.3 Academic Qualification Requirements to Become a Fashion Designer in India

To pursue a career in the fashion design field, one would require either a degree in fashion design or any related course, or any other similar qualifications like diploma or B.Sc.

Few fashion related degrees are as follows:
• B.A.(Hons) Fashion Design
• B.Des in Fashion Design
• B.A.(Hons) Fashion Styling and Image Design
• B.Sc in Fashion and Apparel Designing

A master’s degree isn’t required but one can always go for one with different course work for additional knowledge. Based on one’s interests, there are options with specified course work like fashion styling or apparel design, sustainable fashion design, fashion and textile design to name a few.

2.4 License Requirements

Working as a fashion designer does not require any license, although starting a label and a clothing business might have some license requirements based on the type of the business and the region. Furthermore, all kinds of label or businesses need to be registered. For example, registering a business as a proprietorship or private limited also has a process that must be followed.

2.5 Internship and Work Experience

Very helpful but not mandatory.

Internships are very helpful as the field of fashion design is very practical and hands on. Furthermore they also help students understand the kind of work they would be expected to deliver as industry professionals. The work environment and the ins and outs of a workplace also become clear to interns.

It also encourages the development of an individualistic thought process and problem-solving skills. Thus, internships help a lot to become a fashion designer in India and to gain valuable experience in different segments of the industry.

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2.6 Tuition: How Much Does it Cost to Become a Fashion Designer in India?

If you decide to pursue fashion design from a national college like NIFT, the total cost of the entire course to become a fashion designer in India would be around ₹12,00,000- ₹20,00,000 for all four years. Private institutions would cost around ₹25,00,000- ₹40,00,000 for the same.

Pursuing a fashion design degree outside of India, in colleges like FIT which is a public institution, would cost about $87,077 – $147,706, for all four years. Whereas colleges like Parsons or Pratt would cost you more in comparison.

2.7 Competition

Tough in academics and tougher in the field.

The field of fashion design has a lot of competition, right from college application level to the job applications. The fashion industry is a steadily growing industry which attracts millions of young aspirants every year.

For example, the NIFT entrance test also has tough competition as it ranks students nationally which in a populous country like India, becomes a huge competition in itself.

There are other Institutions also, which offer this course and face similar competition in applications each year. Although there is intense competition, the industry also has plenty of good opportunities.

Even in the industry there is a lot of competition as there are a lot of up-and-coming smaller labels. But in terms of competition, there are a ton of fast fashion retail companies too. They keep putting out the latest trends up for sale at throw away prices, which lures the consumer market to them.

In conclusion, there is plenty of competition to become a fashion designer in India, in the industry as well as institutions.

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2.8 General Age to Start Your Professional Career as a Fashion Designer

17-22, depending on qualifications.

Generally, people start their fashion design career directly after high school which would be around the age of seventeen or eighteen. But there is no fixed age to apply to fashion school and earn a fashion degree or certificate to start your fashion design career.

However, some colleges have a maximum age limit to apply for undergraduate courses, but the graduate courses tend to not have an age limit. As a result, this allows just about anyone to apply and become a fashion designer in India to pursue their career in this field.

2.9 Governing Bodies

Apparel Export Promotion Council

3. Professional Opportunities for Fashion Designers

3.1 Specializations/ Sub Professions

A few sub professions and specializations under fashion design are as follows:

• Fashion Illustration
• Fashion Styling
• Garment Production
• Accessories Designer
• Embroidery Designer
• Merchandiser
• Fashion Coordinator

3.2 Companies and Institutions that Employ Fashion Designers

The most common places of employment for fashion designers are fashion export houses, garment retail chains, garment manufacturing companies. Foe example, some of the big apparel companies in India are Reliance Retail, Aditya Birla Fashion, Marks & Spencer, Shahi Export, etc.

3.3 Growth Prospects

Like any other profession, this profession provides tremendous opportunity and one can reach to the highest level by hard work, passion and perseverance.

3.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities in Fashion Design

Fashion design provides a lot of entrepreneurship opportunities. A fashion designer can either start their own label or start their own boutique. They can start freelancing as stylists and even as designers who do projects with different brands. In addition, this would give the exposure required to start one’s own business.

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3.5 Salary

The salary or income of a fashion designer depends on what degree they have in fashion, the reach of the company you are working for and the level of experience and contacts in the field. For instance, the bigger fashion retail brands often pay more and a lot of fashion designers working on different levels in the company.

Although an entry level job often has less pay, but this too entirely depends on the talent you showcase and the hard work you put in. The salary range is around ₹10,000 – ₹65,000 per month. With better experience the monthly salary can go up to ₹1,00,000 per month or more.

4. Further Resources

4.1 Top Universities in India

• National Institute of Fashion Technology
• Pearl Academy
• Symbiosis University
• Vogue Institute of Art and Design
• United-World Institute of Design
• MIT-Design Pune

4.2 Top Universities in the World

• Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York
• Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
• London College of Fashion
• Royal College of Art, London
• Parsons, New York

4.3 Famous Personalities in the field

There are a lot of famous fashion designers around the world. Below is a list of a few famous names in the industry:

• Sabyasachi Mukherjee
• Prabal Gurung
• Coco Chanel
• Donatella Versace
• Stella McCartney
• Supriya Lele
• Manish Malhotra

4.4 Useful links or resources

There are a lot of things a fashion aspirant can find on google. However, a few helpful links are given below. These will give the aspirants an idea on how to become a fashion designer in India.


Curated & Edited by Sakshi Lokhande (CareerNuts Staff)

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