How much does a fashion designer make in 2022?

How much does a fashion designer make? Do you need a college degree to be a fashion designer?  If those and numerous other sartorial-related questions live rent-free in your head, congrats! Because chances are you are ready to channel your creativity in the name of self-expression and enter the glitzy and glamorous world of fashion. But before you go deep into pattern making, garment construction, illustration, and marketing to turn your vision into a reality, let’s talk about fashion designer salaries, courses, and skills. 

What is a fashion designer and what do they do?

First and foremost, fashion designers are creatives on a mission to put their technical perspectives to good use to create original clothing. Fashion designers have a strong eye for trends. Trend research is one of the essential parts of the creative process, which includes taking inspiration from the world around you and coming up with fresh and innovative designs. 

The designing process usually begins with a solid idea of how a specific garment should look, followed by sketching, pattern making, and sewing. As a fashion designer, you’ll need to decide which fabrics, colors, and patterns work best for your visions. Then, it’s time for sampling and adjustments.

It’s the fashion designer’s job to specify how a design should be constructed to meet the final vision. While emerging fashion designers execute the entire project themselves, there are many different levels in the industry. Some designers work solely on pattern making, while others are talented sewists, drapers, finishers, and sample makers. Senior designers work exclusively on the conception of a garment. 

On the other hand, stylists usually make slight modifications to existing designs. At the end of the day, “Fashion designer” is an umbrella term that can include many different jobs. As newbie designers grow and evolve, they may often change paths depending on where their true passion lies. 

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Types of fashion designers

The world of fashion is certainly broad. That’s exactly why creatives pinpoint their specialty early on and work on acquiring the skills. However, that does not mean that you can’t change your path later on and choose amongst the many categories of clothing, shoe, and accessory making. The most popular types of fashion designers are:

Haute couture

Haute couture designers specialize in crafting one-of-a-kind pieces based on individual customers’ needs. The garments are constructed by hand from start to finish, reflecting in their pricing. Haute couture designers present collections of 50 or more original designs, including day and eveningwear, every season in January and July.   

Ready-to-wear

Pret-a-porter designers create collections to be worn without significant alteration using standard sizing. Unlike haute couture, ready-to-wear pieces are versatile and “wearable” instead of striking pieces of fashion art. Luxury fashion labels identify their most popular couture pieces and create ready-to-wear lines that are, in most cases, based on their one-of-a-kind designs to make them accessible to the public.

High street 

High-street fashion strictly follows the latest seasonal trends and adapts itself to meet the ever-changing demands of customers. Fashion designers work on the initial ideas based on the latest trends, and then the garments are mass manufactured in Europe or Asia. Most of the time, these designs are influenced by luxury labels, runways, and celebrity looks in the media. 

There are many more sub-categories under these three main categories: eveningwear, classic wear, sportswear, eco fashion, etc.

Do you need a college degree to be a fashion designer? 

While aspiring fashion designers typically choose to go after a degree in the fashion field, that’s not a requirement to enter the garment-making world. The O*NET Occupational Information Network points out that 36 percent of fashion designers have an associate degree and 24 percent have a bachelor’s. A degree in fine arts or business fields such as fashion design or fashion merchandising is the most typical college degree fashion designers pursue. 

However, many colleges offer various fashion design certificate programs to help students build a professional portfolio. Established fashion designers put out their courses to provide valuable information on drawing, sewing, design skills, and branding. Anna Wintour has a masterclass on creative leadership; Parsons School of Design offers courses on the foundation of the design process. 

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What abilities are needed to be a fashion designer?

With or without a degree, designers need hands-on experience and an array of creative and leadership skills to make it into the business. Fashion is a fast-paced, demanding field that requires effort and dedication. 

So whether you are planning on working with a team or as a solo designer, you’ll need to have a combination of hard & soft skills:

  • Sketching 
  • Knowledge of Computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Trend forecasting and fashion research
  • Knowledge of color and fabric theory
  • Pattern cutting and sewing
  • Marketing and advertising skills
  • Communication and networking skills
  • The ability to work well in a team
  • Creative flair and outside of the box thinking
  • Time management
  • The ability to accept criticism
  • Confidence

How much does a fashion designer make?  

The fashion designer’s salary varies depending on their skills, level, and position, but the average salary in the US is $101,129. A typical assistant designer makes $57,825  ($27.80/hour). A designer in charge of developing the apparel design strategy for an organization makes $74,816 ($35.97/hour). Designers who oversee the apparel design strategy for an organization and research consumer needs and trends make $135,194 ($65/hour) according to 2022 statistics. 

How much does a fashion designer make in other parts of the world? 

According to the Economic Research Institute and PayScale, the average annual pay for a fashion designer:

  • France, €57,920 
  • Luxembourg, €78,867
  • Italy, €52,985
  • Germany, €66,716
  • Hong Kong, HKD 446,494
  • Shanghai, CNY 206,230
  • Tokyo, JPY 9,732,525
  • South Africa, R168,519
  • Spain, €33,424
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada C$61,169
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada C$51,175

Fashion design offers unlimited opportunities to unleash your creativity, turn your love for clothing into a high-paying income and constantly challenge yourself to acquire the skills and knowledge. Whether you are working solo or as a part of a team, nothing can beat the heartwarming feeling of seeing your final vision come to life. Fashion is, after all, a form of self-expression meant to make people feel, experiment, and create.