With National Apprenticeship Week upon us, we wanted to shed some light on what it’s like to be a CityFibre apprentice....
- Design fashion ranges for retailers or high fashion houses
- You'll need creative flair, technical skills for creating garments and great business sense
- Work your way up at a retailer or fashion house, or start your own label
- Working to design instructions (a 'brief')
- Analysing or predicting trends in fabrics, colours and shapes
- Producing concept and mood boards (a collection of items to capture a mood, like photos, fabric pieces or colour samples)
- Producing designs by hand or by using computer-aided design (CAD)
- Developing basic shapes ('blocks') through patterns
- Estimating costs for materials and manufacture
- Finding suppliers
- Supervising the making up of sample clothing items
- Making in-house presentations, for example to finance departments and merchandisers
You'll often work closely with garment technologists and sample machinists. You could also work with manufacturers (often based overseas) to make sure that designs are reproduced accurately.
As a freelance designer you'll set your own rates, and may charge per design or per collection.
You'll often work long hours and weekends to meet deadlines, like at the launch of a new collection. You'll be based in a studio or workshop, but may travel to visit manufacturers, often overseas. You may also go on research visits to places like art galleries, trade shows or to particular places or countries that are linked to a design theme.
This role is ideal for someone with a good eye for colour, texture and shape, technical skills like pattern cutting and sewing, the ability to spot and develop trends, drawing skills, the ability to use computer design packages, and the ability to solve problems.
You'll usually need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. Courses are widely available and include fashion design, art and design and textiles. You should look for a course that covers both design and technical skills to get the practical knowledge needed by the industry.
Some universities and colleges are members of the British Fashion Council.
You could also do a college course, which will teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need to work in the fashion industry such as, a Level 2 Award in Fashion - Sampling Fashion Techniques, Level 2 Diploma in Skills for the Fashion Industries or Level 3 Extended Diploma in Fashion Design and Production.
Alternatively you may be able to do an advanced apprenticeship in fashion and textiles and work as an assistant in a design studio. You could then develop your design skills on the job.
You can create a portfolio of your design work to showcase your skills, which will help you at course and job interviews. Your portfolio should include mood boards, designs and technical drawings.
You'll need to get as much work experience as you can, for example through an internship, as there's strong competition for jobs in the fashion industry. It will help you get a better understanding of the role, and to meet people who may help you to find paid work later.
With experience you could progress to senior designer, head of a department (like head of women's wear design) or design director. You could also go freelance or start your own company.