Having a career as a fashion designer was always an aspiration of mine. When I was a child, I would cut my Barbie doll clothes and make new ones because I was never satisfied with the clothes they came in. I always had the urge to create and be hands on. After high school I decided to move to Los Angeles so that I could get the best education and make my lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer a reality.
Educating Yourself about the Industry
My education played a large role in entering the fashion industry. There is a copious amount of information to learn. I attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, where I majored in Merchandise Product Development. During my time at FIDM, I interned at various companies to get a feel for what sector of the industry I wanted to make a career in. I was fortunate enough to land a paid internship at a company called EVY of California. My internship put the knowledge I acquired at school to the test. The internship allowed me to actually be involved in the design process from beginning to end. After I graduated, I was hired full time as an assistant designer and my career began to take off.
I have been working in the industry for 4 years now and I am now an Associate Designer for Walmart girls, designing licensed kidswear. Even though I have acquired multiple skills, I am constantly learning new procedures and being exposed to new visions.
Tips for Getting Hired
Due to the high level of competition in the industry, finding a way of standing out is crucial. Having an outstanding portfolio and great interview skills are key. Your portfolio should reflect how well rounded you are and highlight your skills. When you are being interviewed you should not over promise or state skills that you do not possess. You should go in with an open mind and be optimistic to the opportunities that could arise. Employees are quick to spot talented and driven individuals.
When I interviewed with my current employer, I was 19 years old with a high drive to learn. In my interview I showcased my portfolio which included a womenswear and a childrenswear collection. Both collections were designed based on the same theme, but with a different aesthetic.
I highly encourage interning as it is helps you find what you’re truly interested in. Interning also helps you solidify the industry before you officially enter it. Employers like individuals with experience. School will prepare you, but the industry will teach you so much more.
Here is a glimpse of the portfolio I presented during my interview.
This was 4 years ago, so my design ability and skills have improved from what is reflected here. I like to occasionally reference this portfolio because at the time, I thought it was the most amazing collection I had created. This portfolio reflects my growth as a designer.
An average day for me is far from average. No day is the same, as my daily tasks change based on the stage in development I am currently in. But here’s an example of what a typical day consists of.
5:45 am: Wake up and get ready for the day.
6:20 am: Leave my apartment to commute to Orange County and beat the traffic.
7:00 am: Arrive at work and grab coffee ASAP.
7:30 am: Check emails and update planner with my to do list for the day.
7:45 - 10 am: Put all samples needed for that day into sew, source trims/fabric, put pattern requests, follow up on any pending art revisions, and cad updates.
10 - 11 am: Team meetings to recap on progress.
12 - 1 pm: Lunch. Sometimes... if workload is not insane.
1 - 6/7 pm: Sketching, more meetings, more sketching, merchandising, trending, more meetings.
7 - 8 pm: Drive home. Sit in terrible traffic.
8 - 8:30 pm: Eat a light dinner. I hate eating this late.
8:30 - 9 pm: Shower time and finally some alone time.
9 - 10 pm: Watch an episode of my current favorite show, blog for A Girl in LA, and then plan my outfit for next day.
10:30 - 11 pm: Sleep!!!
Designing kidswear is fun, but it is always nice to change design direction. I enjoy freelancing on the side as it helps me become a well rounded designer and build my portfolio. This is also beneficial when applying for a position since employees like to see a variety of your skills and talent.
I had never designed men's clothing until I was approached to work on a men's swimwear line. In the design process I learned so much detail about construction and preferred swimwear fabrics.
When looking for fashion design freelance work, networking with your friends and coworkers in the industry is a great way to hear about upcoming projects. There’s also tons of websites that offer fashion freelance work or allow you to post your resume like, Upwork, PeoplePerHour, InDeed, and Craigslist.
Have any further questions pertaining to the fashion industry? Comment below and I will do my best to answer them!