The apparel industry has emerged as a very size able and significant segment of the omnibus textile industry. You may think that fashion is merely the design of clothes, but there are dozens of related professions that are concerned with producing, marketing, selling and promoting fashions.
The largest section of the fashion market is actually the mass market, the wholesale manufacturers. Like the big name designers, they too often have their own house style which their designers have to reflect in the ranges designed.
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Nature of Work
The world of fashion offers a variety of careers to choose from. Fashion designing is one major career option with various specializations to choose from. One can become a fashion designer specializing in garments for various occasions and uses or become a designer of garments made with material such as leather or using knitwear :
Accessory designers create items that enhance the look of a garment such as costume jewellery. Gloves, scarves, ties, belts and purses.
coordinating, fashion forecasting, manufacturing technology and marketing of apparels and accessories are the other important job opening in the fashion industry.
The designer’s job always involves a variety of tasks but it varies enormously according to the size, type and organisation of the firm he/she is working for. Few designers spend much time actually creating and sketching brand new ideas, styles and trends. The majority specialise in designs that are an amalgamation and adaptation of ideas from various sources, They use their creative ability combined with technical expertise to incorporate fashion trends and their firm’s special style/feature into the type of garments which sell best in a given type of market (trendy, elegant, classic, etc.) within a given price range.
Fashion/accessory designers may transact business in their own offices, clients’ homes or offices, or may travel to other locations such as showrooms or manufacturing facilities. Designers frequently adjust their workday to suit their clients, meeting with them in the evenings, or on weekends when necessary.
Apparel marketing and merchandising professionals need to travel and coordinate with export houses, wholesalers, boutiques, etc. They would also need to be at garment manufacturing and designing workshops to understand how to pitch their sales presentation.
Fashion models are generally needed for fashion shoots in studios or location and event venues for ramp shows.
Fashion photographers travel all over the place where fashion events, exhinbitions, trade fairsare held and coordinate with fashion designers and event managers.
Fashion design focuses on creativity and innovation with an accent on commercialism and practicality.
Accessory design, similar in focus, is more for enhancing the appeal of a garment and ornamentation hence aesthetics and appeal dominate.
Garment manufacaturing technology deals with the scientific and technical elements that go into producing a garment and ideal for those who would rather deal with the practicalities than the artistic and creative (as in fashion design)
Apparel marketing and merchandising provides the link between the manufacturer and the retailer. It involves research into general fashion trends/market competition, product planning, advertising, public relations and promotion. In an age when how you sell something is as important as what you sell, this specialization is crucial.
Fashion writing, styling, fashion communication and fashion photography are functions related to fashion but require skills typical to the work itself in addition to an excellent perception of the industry. Fashion illustration and fashion photography are alternatives for a fashion designer or allied professional since there are rarely specific training programmes for such jobs.
Stylists’ work includes magazines, promotional material such as brochures and publicity shoots, fashion shows, events, television shows, music business. Sometimes styling overlaps with display and many freelancers may do both.
Fashion modellling is a popular option for young people but requires no training in fashion. Training in deportment and personality development would be helpful, though.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
Creativity is crucial in all design occupations. Fashion/accessory designer should have an aptitude for visual expression – drawing, cutting, painting, making, exploring colour and texture; an interest in how clothes are made; ability to research information; facility for organizing and analyzing material, knowing trends and making reasoned critical judgements; curiosity and interest in society and the environment; a fascination with change and development.
Pereption, analytical ability, flexibility and good communication skills are needed for sales, marketing and merchandising jobs.
Garment technologists should have an interest in the technology of fashion, organizing ability, creative approach to problem solving, eye for details, the ability to delegate and deal with people.
Employers seek individuals who are knowledgeable in the areas of textiles, fabricks, and ornamentation, as well as trends in the fashion world. Some high-fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. They make fashion news by establishing the ‘line’, colours, and kinds of materials that will be worn each season. Other high-fashion designers cater to designer/fashion boutiques or high-fashion department stores. They design original garments, as well as follow the established fashion trends. Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, adapting men’s women’s and children’s fashions for the mass market.
Getting a job is a skill in itself. You have to be well informed, realistic, keen, determined, energetic and good. For survival and success be self-motivated; flexible and adaptable to change; persistent; professional and see fashion in a broader context than just clothes. Establish a network of friends and contacts, for ideas, sharing skills and experiences and to provide leads for interesting work options. Initially look for employment wherever possible with an eye to using it as a period of apprenticeship where you hope and prepare to learn. In the first year be prepared to use the time to learn how to be a good practical designer or model or illustrator or photographer, etc.,
No matter how much newspapers and magazines make headlines of how much money top models make, it is only the elite few who do but they too have to face lean patches and can be left unpaid too once in a while.
Demand for fashion designers should rise as consumers become more concerned with fashion and style. In addition to employment growth, many job openings will result from the need to replace designers who leave the filed. Film, theatre, video and television industries require the services of fashion/costume designers and stylists.
While there have been successful fashion professionals who have not been formally trained, natural talent and interest are not the only considerations for success. Recognised and reputed institutions help to train individuals to develop creative, theoretical, technical and personal elements that equip them with the basic skills and attitudes they need to begin their careers. The competitive world we inhabit also makes the possession of recognized qualifications increasingly important in all fields especially when one is looking for formal employment.
Duration of training varies between 1-3 years in varied areas. In design related training, entry level is usually Plus Two level, sometimes after class 10
(though advisedly it is better to wait till 12th). Management and technically tuned training is after graduation most of the time.
Fashion design curriculum covers all the processes of design from inspiration to the final product. Students learn all about pattern making, garment construction, grading and draping, fashion art, history of costumes and textiles, apparel fabric and textile science. They are also taught presentation techniques, preparation of portfolios as an aspect of creative marketing and how to organize fashion shows.
Accessory design programme introduces students to basic design concepts, visualization techniques, manipulation of materials and techniques of interpretation that help create costume jewellery and accessories in different materials and traditional craft style. Students learn about preparation of portfolio and presentation techniques, coordination and export marketing. Once students complete the course they are trained to design, coordinate shows, organize displays and marketing for different types of markets.
Garment manufacturing technology programme aims at turning out managers for the garment production units. Students are exposed to the complete manufacturing process from procurement to sampling, cutting, sewing, finishing and packaging. They are taught fabric science,pattern making, grading analysis of market trends, and identification of machines and equipment. The course covers the techniques of production, business administration, handling of labour, computer application for the garment industry and diploma holders can ensure high standards of quality control and garment specification. The diploma holders, therefore, can make effective decisions on the basis of the knowledge of the whole process of manufacture.
Apparel marketing and merchandising training focuses on the various aspects of marketing and merchandising as applicable to the fashion industry. The course covers aspects of buying, advertising, forecasting, trade documentation, retail trade, international marketing, fashion coordination and computer applications. Students are trained in market research techniques and the study of consumer behaviour.
Leather garment design and technology training offers option of specializing in designing and styling of leather garments or in the management of a manufacturing unit. Students are exposed to the process of manufacturing of leather garments from the state of design forecasting, to pattern making techniques, study of international size charts, garment specifications and finally the production process. They develop a comprehensive awareness of the whole process of functioning of a leather garment manufacturing unit. They can function as production managers or become stylists with a leather garment unit.
Knitwear design and technology course aims to train students who can design knitwear and also manage the technological aspects of the manufacturing process. This course aims to turn out students who can appreciate the combination of creativity with knowledge of materials and processes. The training goes into the technical aspects of pattern making, construction of garments, professional designing techniques, costing of garments and also exposes the student to the practical functioning of the industry or business. Students are absorbed as designers who are capable of managing the technology related to the industry.
Apart from the premier institute NIFT, some Industrial Training Institutes (it is) run by different state governments and private bodies also conduct courses in knitwear design and technology.
The college/vocational institute/polytechnic where the above named courses are conducted should have good connections with industry so that students may gain practical experience along with theoretical training. The training institute/college/polytechnic must have up-to-date equipment. The faculty should have recent industrial experience.
Haute couture is an exclusive area of the fashion industry dominated by a few highly successful individuals/names. But as we enter the new millennium, mass production and diffusion of ranges (less expensive versions of designer ranges) have made the latest designs accessible to a much wider public making fashion play a much greater role in everyday life. Now, casual wear, work wear, leisurewear, childrens wear and corporate wear are the growing markets.
Despite the projected faster than average employment growth, designers in most fields are expected to face competition for available positions because many talented individuals are attracted to careers as designers. Individuals with little or no formal education in design who lack creativity and perseverance find it difficult to establish and maintain a career in design.