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Designing Clothing and Apparel - Beginners Guide to Fashion Design

Fashion is much more than just the clothes we choose to wear. It is an expression of art and pop culture and can be defined as anything from trendy jeans and t-shirts to haute couture from the world's most respected designers. As our society evolves over the centuries, fashion has changed right along with it. Fashion acts as a manifestation of our cultural values. In free societies where citizens are able to choose what they wear, it is a form of self-expression. Therefore, the fashion designer has an extremely important role in our society. He or she must have an understanding and awareness of pop culture in order to create something beautiful that the public will enjoy.

Because fashion is a form of communication, designers need to have a clear idea of what message they want to convey. The finished garment must have a purpose and say something to the consumer-whether that message is "everyday casual" or "red carpet fashion". Designers should be particularly creative because they need to have the ability to see what colors, patterns, textiles, and shapes work well together. They should be imaginative enough to create a vision and carry it through from a beginning sketch to a finished garment. Fashion trends are cyclical, so it is important for designers to understand how to re-imagine old ideas into something fresh and new. In addition to being very creative and having a great understanding of pop culture, fashion designers should master a few important practical skills. Although sewing might not be necessary later on (most established designers only have a creative role) it is a good idea for budding designers to have a thorough understanding of sewing and pattern-making. Fabric draping, pleating, gathering, and layering are all basic skills that designers must master in order to create wearable garments. When designing clothing it is important to have an extremely careful eye for detail, because it is very important to be meticulous during the pattern-making process. Design students should also focus on learning valuable computer skills. There are many drawing and editing programs that are used frequently in apparel design and most employers prefer students who can easily use them to bring their visions to life.

Breaking into the clothing design industry can be challenging because it is very competitive. The first step to entering the fashion apparel design world is getting a comprehensive education that includes classes on everything from the history of fashion to hands-on lessons that will teach students practical skills that are needed to excel. Fashion school will help young designers develop a well-rounded understanding and appreciation of fashion so they will be able to carve their own place in the industry. It also gives students the necessary business skills they will eventually need, and relevant experience that will be useful when looking for a job. Since the fashion world is so competitive, it is important to be as marketable as possible. Cultivating a strong set of sewing, sketching, and computer skills is imperative to drawing the attention of potential employers. Another great way to get a foot in the door is to complete an internship. Internships are a perfect way to get real-world experience and firsthand knowledge of the clothing design industry. The professional connections made during an internship are sure to come in handy when just starting out in the fashion industry. Another option for working in fashion apparel design is to freelance. Freelancing gives the designer more control over his or her career because they do not have to rely on a particular company. Freelance designers can choose what collections they create and to whom they want to sell it. No matter what path a person decides to take to begin designing clothing, it is imperative to have a clear plan. This resource list will help students interested in apparel design make the best choice for them in order to enter the fashion business.

What Is Fashion?

Fashion Design Glossaries

Designing Tools

Creating Apparel

Becoming A Designer


Fashion Industry Magazines

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