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Fashion design
Fashion design is the art of the application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories. Fashion design is influenced by cultural and social latitudes, and has varied over time and place. Fashion designers work in a number of ways in designing clothing and accessories. Some work alone or as part of a team. They attempt to satisfy consumer desire for aesthetically designed clothing; and, because of the time required to bring a garment onto the market, must at times anticipate changing consumer tastes.

Fashion designers attempt to design clothes which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They must consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn. They have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colors, patterns and styles to choose from. Though most clothing worn for everyday wear fall within a narrow range of conventional styles, unusual garments are usually sought for special occasions, such as evening wear or party dresses.

Some clothes are made specifically for an individual, as in the case of haute couture. Today, most clothing is designed for the mass market, especially casual and every-day wear.

Structure

Fashion designers can work in a number of ways. Fashion designers may work full-time for one fashion company, known as 'in-house designers' which owns the designs. They may work alone or as part of a team. Freelance designers work for themselves, selling their designs to fashion houses, directly to shops, or to clothing manufacturers. The garments bear the buyer's label. Some fashion designers set up their own labels, under which their designs are marketed. Some fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. Other high-fashion designers cater to specialty stores or high-fashion department stores. These designers create original garments, as well as those that follow established fashion trends. Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, creating designs of men’s, women’s, and children’s fashions for the mass market. Large designer brands which have a 'name' as their brand such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Justice, or Juicy are likely to be designed by a team of individual designers under the direction of a designer director.

Designing a garment

Fashion designers work in different ways. Some sketch their ideas on paper, while others drape fabric on a dress form. When a designer is completely satisfied with the fit of the toile (or muslin), he or she will consult a professional pattern maker who then makes the finished, working version of the pattern out of card. The pattern maker's job is very precise and painstaking. The fit of the finished garment depends on their accuracy. Finally, a sample garment is made up and tested on a model to make sure it is an operational outfit.

History

Fashion design is generally considered to have started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments that he created. Before the former draper set up his maison couture (fashion house) in Paris, clothing design and creation was handled by largely anonymous seamstresses, and high fashion descended from that worn at royal courts. Worth's success was such that he was able to dictate to his customers what they should wear, instead of following their lead as earlier dressmakers had done. The term couturier was in fact first created in order to describe him. While all articles of clothing from any time period are studied by academics as costume design, only clothing created after 1858 could be considered as fashion design.

It was during this period that many design houses began to hire artists to sketch or paint designs for garments. The images were shown to clients, which was much cheaper than producing an actual sample garment in the workroom. If the client liked their design, they ordered it and the resulting garment made money for the house. Thus, the tradition of designers sketching out garment designs instead of presenting completed garments on models to customers began as an economy.


Finale of fashion show, 2009


A classroom filled with sewing machines and mannequins.


A student fashion show, 2007

Types of fashion

The garments produced by clothing manufacturers fall into three main categories, although these may be split up into additional, more specific categories:

Haute couture

Until the 1950s, fashion clothing was predominately designed and manufactured on a made-to-measure or haute couture basis (French for high-fashion), with each garment being created for a specific client. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Look and fit take priority over the cost of materials and the time it takes to make.

Ready-to-wear

Ready-to-wear clothes are a cross between haute couture and mass market. They are not made for individual customers, but great care is taken in the choice and cut of the fabric. Clothes are made in small quantities to guarantee exclusivity, so they are rather expensive. Ready-to-wear collections are usually presented by fashion houses each season during a period known as Fashion Week. This takes place on a city-wide basis and occurs twice a year. The main seasons of Fashion Week include, spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, swim and bridal.

Mass market

Currently the fashion industry relies more on mass market sales. The mass market caters for a wide range of customers, producing ready set by the famous names in fashion. They often wait around a season to make sure a style is going to catch on before producing their own versions of the original look. In order to save money and time, they use cheaper fabrics and simpler production techniques which can easily be done by machine. The end product can therefore be sold much more cheaply.

There is a type of design called "kutch" design originated from the German word "kitschig" meaning "ugly" or "not aesthetically pleasing." Kitsch can also refer to "wearing or displaying something that is therefore no longer in fashion." Often, high-waisted trousers, associated with the 1980s, are considered a "kitsch" fashion statement.

Income

Median annual wages for salaried fashion designers were $61,160 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,150 and $87,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,780.. Median annual earnings were $52,860 (£28,340) in apparel, piece goods, and notions - the industry employing the largest numbers of fashion designers.

Fashion education

There are a number of well known art schools and design schools world wide that offer degrees in fashion design and fashion design technology. Some colleges also offer Masters of Fashion courses. Though it is not a requirement to have a Masters level, it is recommended by those already working in the industry to study at this level. The most notable of design schools in Europe include London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of Westminster and Kingston University in London, and the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. Limerick School of Art and Design, Griffith College and the National College of Art and Design offer reputable BA of Fashion Design courses in Ireland. Istituto Marangoni, Domus Academy, Politecnico of Milan, NABA - Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano, Istituto Europeo di Design, University Iuav of Venice in Italy, the Fashion Federation PARIS] European Fashion Accreditation www.Fashion-Board.com, Antwerp Fashion Academy in Belgium. There is Parsons The New School for Design, Creative Business House, Fashion Institute of Technology and the Pratt Institute in New York City. Elsewhere in the United States there is the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Savannah College of Art and Design, Virginia Commonwealth University, Otis College of Art & Design, and Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago in Chicago. The National Institute of Fashion Technology in India, Haryana Technical Institute Rohtak in India, Shih Chien University in Hong Kong, RMIT University in Melbourne, Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan and the Asian University chain, Raffles College of Design and Commerce, all have reputable fashion design courses.

The only Ivy League University having a Fashion Design undergraduate program is Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The program is offered by the department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design]. Cornell University also offers a Ph.D. program in apparel design. An updated list of fashion design masters and Ph.D programs can be found at ITAA.org. The programs are intended to address the needs of academia, industry and research by considering apparel design as an applied science that embraces design, technology, physical sciences, the humanities and social sciences in order to meet the human needs for clothing. There are many universities that offer fashion design throughout the United States. The major incorporating fashion design may have alternative names like Apparel and Textiles or Apparel and Textile Design and may be housed in departments such as Art and Art History or Family and Consumer Studies.

Star system

"The designers are most stratified in the French system of fashion [...] Fashion ensures the functioning of a system of dominant and subordinate positions within a social order. Fashion is ideological in that it is also part of the process in which particular social groups, in this case elite designers, establish, sustain and reproduce positions of power and relations of dominance and subordination. The positions of dominance and subordination appear natural and legitimate, not only to those in positions of dominance, but also to those in subordinate positions. Fashion and the medium of fashion, that is clothing, offer means to make inequalities of socioeconomic status appear legitimate, and, therefore, acceptable."

A "mythical conception of a designer as a 'creative genius' disconnected from social conditions" is central for the working of the fashion system and for the reproduction of fashion as ideology. Creativity is socially constructed and not an innate given, i.e. many may be gifted but no one can become a famous designer without being legitimized by the fashion system and its gatekeepers.

The star system is as essential for the fashion industry as for any Culture industry. "Genre and the star system are attempts to produce something analogous to brand names in cultural industries. Stars are indispensable because it is part of the ideology of creativity that creative works must have an identifiable author."

World fashion industry

Fashion today is a global industry, and most major countries have a fashion industry. Some countries are major manufacturing centers, notably Philippines, China, Bangladesh, South Korea, Spain, Germany, Brazil and India. Five countries have established an international reputation in fashion: France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan.

American fashion design

The majority of American fashion houses are based in New York, although there are also a significant number in Los Angeles, where a substantial percentage of high fashion clothing manufactured in the US is actually made. There are also burgeoning industries in Miami, Chicago and especially San Francisco also New York. American fashion design is dominated by a clean-cut, urban, casual style; reflecting the athletic, health-conscious lifestyles of American city-dwellers. A designer who helped to set the trend in the United States for sport-influenced day wear throughout the 1940s and 50's was Claire McCardell. Many of her designs have been revived in recent decades.

British fashion design

London has long been the capital of the UK fashion industry and has a wide range of foreign designs which have integrated with modern British styles. Typical British design is smart but innovative yet recently has become more and more unconventional, fusing traditional styles with modern techniques. Vintage styles play an important role in the British fashion and styling industry. Stylists regularly 'mix and match' the old with the new, which gives British style that unique, bohemian aesthetic that many of the other fashion capitals try to imitate. Irish fashion (both design and styling) is also heavily influenced by fashion trends from Britain.

French fashion design

Most French fashion houses are in Paris, which is the capital of French fashion. Traditionally, French fashion is chic and stylish, defined by its sophistication, cut, and smart accessories. Although the Global Language Monitor placed it 3rd in the Media, after Milan and New York, French fashion is internationally acclaimed.

Italian fashion design

Milan is Italy's capital of fashion. Most of the older Italian couturiers are in Rome. However, Milan and Florence are the Italian fashion capitals, and it is the exhibition venue for their collections. Italian fashion features casual elegance and luxurious fabrics.

Swiss fashion design

Most of the Swiss fashion houses are in Zürich. The Swiss look is casual elegant and luxurious with a slight touch of quirkiness. With it being highly influenced by the dance club scene.

Japanese fashion design

Most Japanese fashion houses are in Tokyo. The Japanese look is loose and unstructured (often resulting from complicated cutting), colours tend to the sombre and subtle, and richly textured fabrics. Famous Japanese designers are Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo, Issey Miyake (masterful drape and cut), and Comme des Garçons's Rei Kawakubo, who developed a new way of cutting (comparable to Madeleine Vionnet's innovation in the 1930s).

Fashion design terms

• A fashion designer conceives garment combinations of line, proportion, color, and texture. While sewing and pattern-making skills are beneficial, they are not a pre-requisite of successful fashion design. Most fashion designers are formally trained or apprenticed.
• A technical designer works with the design team and the factories overseas to ensure correct garment construction, appropriate fabric choices and a good fit. The technical designer fits the garment samples on a fit model, and decides which fit and construction changes to make before mass producing the garment.
• A pattern maker (or pattern cutter) drafts the shapes and sizes of a garment's pieces. This may be done manually with paper and measuring tools or by using an AutoCAD computer software program. Another method is to drape fabric directly onto a dress form. The resulting pattern pieces can be constructed to produce the intended design of the garment and required size. Formal training is usually required for working as a pattern marker.
• A tailor makes custom designed garments made to the client's measure; especially suits (coat and trousers, jacket and skirt, et cetera). Tailors usually undergo an apprenticeship or other formal training.
• A textile designer designs fabric weaves and prints for clothes and furnishings. Most textile designers are formally trained as apprentices and in school.
• A stylist co-ordinates the clothes, jewelry, and accessories used in fashion photography and catwalk presentations. A stylist may also work with an individual client to design a coordinated wardrobe of garments. Many stylists are trained in fashion design, the history of fashion and historical costume, and have a high level of expertise in the current fashion market and future market trends. However, some simply have a strong aesthetic sense for pulling great looks together.
• A fashion buyer selects and buys the mix of clothing available in retail shops, department stores and chain stores. Most fashion buyers are trained in business and/or fashion studies.
• A seamstress sews ready to wear or mass produced clothing by hand or with a sewing machine, either in a garment shop or as a sewing machine operator in a factory. She (or he) may not have the skills to make (design and cut) the garments, or to fit them on a model.
• A teacher of fashion design teaches the art and craft of fashion design in art or fashion school.
• A custom clothier makes custom-made garments to order, for a given customer.
• A dressmaker specializes in custom-made women's clothes: day, cocktail, and evening dresses, business clothes and suits, trousseaus, sports clothes, and lingerie.
• An illustrator draws and paints clothing designs for commercial use.
• A fashion forecaster predicts what colours, styles and shapes will be popular ("on-trend") before the garments are on sale in stores.
• A model wears and displays clothes at fashion shows and in photographs.
• A fit model aids the fashion designer by wearing and commenting on the fit of clothes during their design and pre-manufacture. Fit models need to be a particular size for this purpose.
• A fashion journalist writes fashion articles describing the garments presented or fashion trends, for magazines or newspapers.
• An alterations specialist (alterationist) adjusts the fit of completed garments, usually ready-to-wear, and sometimes re-styles them. NOTE: despite tailors altering garments to fit the client, not all alterationists are tailors.
• An Image Consultant, wardrobe consultant or fashion advisor recommends styles and colors that are flattering to the client.
 
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