Career Planning for Freelance Fashion Designers

Successful freelance fashion designers careers are a result of hard work, talent, and good business skills. A bit of research on the fashion design industry in the US indicates that by far more fashion designers are employed in the industry than are working as freelancers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently only about 23,000 people employed in fashion design in the US. Growth is estimated at about 1% in the coming decade, compared to a national average in other sectors of 9%.

Career Progression for Freelance Fashion Designers

Most fashion designers qualify through a fashion trade school. They usually serve internships and work in the industry through other design levels until they are able to produce complete commercial designs. There are several main areas of fashion design:

  • Mainstream consumer clothing
  • Niche markets (youth market, etc.)
  • Baby and children’s clothing
  • Women’s clothing
  • Men’s clothing

Many designers branch out when they have the capital and outlets to start operations on their own. This is not an easy process. Fashion designers have to sell their designs to a market which already has a huge number of designs on the market.

Career Stages

Some designers produce their own fashion products at first, rather than attempt to work through the industry’s mazes of business contracts and other complex associations. A competent designer is also a competent production expert, and knows how to subcontract their assembly work. The early business phase is characterized by using business networks to find manufacturers and outlets for products. These networks are part of the natural process of the career, and may include a range of professional industry people, sales experts and retailers or wholesalers.

At the start-up phase, the main need is to get the products into shops or manufactured  and distributed under license. You will have some brands which start off as cheap good brands, and progress to major design labels. The next stage is to create a wider distribution network. This requires entering into contracts and a considerable level of business expertise, usually learned during the years working in the industry or through business studies and qualifications.

The next stage is the publicly visible brand stage, fashion shows, promotions, etc. The successful freelance fashion designers are always people who know how to work with the distribution and media elements of fashion. Their products are seen all over the fashion magazines, online, and throughout their markets in advertising.

Freelance Fashion Designers Career Tips

These are the basic tenets of the fashion business for designers:

  • Becoming a successful freelance fashion designer is not easy. It requires time, patience, and a thorough understanding of the business environment. You must fully understand and know how to manage the entire business process, particularly overhead.
  • Fashion design businesses only survive if they’re commercially cost effective. Everything from your design work to your office space and equipment must be financially viable.