Fashion designer

clothes designer
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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would design clothes and fashion ranges. You could design the popular clothes sold in high street shops. Or you could make the glamorous and expensive creations worn by actors, pop stars and celebrities.

You might specialise in particular types of clothing - for example in men’s, children’s or sportswear.

You’d design the items using your drawing skills and computer-aided design software. To make prototypes of your designs you will need to develop technical skills such as pattern cutting and sewing.

You would:

  • Work to design instructions – known as a brief
  • Analyse or predict trends in fabrics, colours and shapes
  • Produce concept and mood boards with photos, fabric pieces and colour samples
  • Develop basic shapes – known as 'blocks' – through patterns
  • Estimate costs of materials and manufacturing
  • Find suppliers for materials
  • Supervise the creation of sample clothing items
  • Give in-house presentations, for example to finance departments and merchandisers

You would often work closely with garment technologists and sample machinists.

You’d need to be interested in fashion and be able to spot trends. You’d need to have a good eye for colour and shape and appreciate the characteristics of fabrics and textiles.

It would be important to understand production processes and be commercially aware so you know how clothes will produced and whether they will sell.

You might liaise with manufacturers, often based overseas, to make sure that designs are reproduced accurately.

Working conditions

Hours

You would often work long hours and weekends in order to meet deadlines, for example at the launch of a new collection.

Environment

You would be based in a studio or workshop.

Travel

You may travel to visit manufacturers (often overseas). You could also go on research visits, for example to art galleries, trade shows or to particular places or countries that are linked to a design theme.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Working with your hands
  • Using computers
  • Designing
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being creative
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Employers often require a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or degree (SCQF level 9/10) preferably in a design-centred subject.

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) courses with National 5 qualifications and one Higher or a relevant NC/NQ/BTEC.

To enter a Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) you will need National 5 qualifications and one to two Highers or a relevant NC/NQ/BTEC or HNC.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) you will require a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HND qualification.  

Useful subjects

Courses often require:

  • English
  • Art and design
  • Maths
  • Fashion and textile technologies
  • Graphic communications

You will also need

A portfolio of your work when applying to courses or jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show creative skills and industry knowledge such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5) or relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualifications in Fashion and Textiles (SCQF level 2/3).