Fashion designers have an extremely glamorous image, but one thing needs to be understood from the very beginning of a fashion design career - Fashion is a business. If you want to succeed in this business, you must have excellent business skills. Design is fun, and there is almost no limit to the creativity possible, but without a talent for business, it can be a truly tough career.
Successful fashion designers do make millions of dollars. They're also largely responsible for the drastic improvement in clothing and human self-image around the world since the peasant clothes of the 18th century. Fashion has actually promoted better grooming and personal hygiene and the sense of self-esteem which was almost completely lacking in feudal societies. Modern fashion is the result of generations of fashion design, which also reflect social and technological advances.
Although it is possible for people to learn fashion design for themselves, the industry requires formal qualifications. These qualifications are absolutely necessary, because fashion designers must understand the production technology and market requirements of their products. Although modern production can be conducted at arms length from fashion design, top designers prefer to have direct involvement in all aspects of production for quality control purposes.
A fashion graduate usually starts work in a fashion design business at the basic level, usually doing templates and piece designs. The graduate progressively trains and develops their skills to the point where they're able to create their own designs. This training period is particularly important, because it includes familiarity with materials, specific production issues and, most importantly, the fashion market for which the clothing is designed.
After passing through this essential stage of gaining skills and industry experience, many fashion designers branch out on their own. This is a critical period in the career dynamics of fashion designers. Fashion is an unbelievably competitive industry. In fact it's one of the most competitive on Earth, and mistakes can be expensive.
To successfully market fashion designs, designers must have:
These baseline elements underpin a successful fashion career. Most fashion designers at some point must obtain business qualifications. Because of the very large amounts of money involved in this industry, it is absolutely essential that fashion designers become good business managers and have full control of all aspects of the business.
Success in fashion design is both commercial and personal. Some of the world's most creative fashion designers like Yves St Laurent were commercially extremely successful, but were also revered for sheer talent. If you're looking for a career which includes the most challenging aspects of creativity in business, you've found it.