What are the Duties and Responsibilities of A Fashion Designer

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is something in the air. It’s the wind that blows in the new fashion; you feel it coming, you smell it, in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” — Coco Chanel

According to Tommy Hilfiger, “Being a successful fashion designer is about more than just making great clothes. It’s about running a business, and that means having a combination of diverse skills—you need creativity, business acumen, social skills, management skills, and most importantly, you need dedication.”

Fashion design is the process of applying a creatively envisioned style into wearable clothing and accessories. Clothing (also known as garments, attire, or dress) in its most simplified definition, is a covering for the body, usually made of fabric, and accessories are used to supplement a wardrobe and are either purely decorative (such as jewelry), useful (such as a watch), or necessary for everyday living (such as shoes). The most common fashion accessories include handbags, shoes, gloves, scarves, millinery (hats), belts, gloves, hosiery (including socks, stockings, leg warmers, and tights), jewelry (including earrings; necklaces; wrist, arm, and ankle bracelets; rings; piercings; and watches), sunglasses, pins, neckties, bow ties, and suspenders. The fashion industry is divided into five main markets according to price point: haute couture, designer, bridge, moderate, and mass.

A fashion designer conceptualizes and creates apparel or accessories collections on a seasonal basis, with a target market (end user of product) in mind. Fashion designers can be employed by apparel or accessories manufacturers; couture houses, fashion ateliers, or design studios; department and specialty stores; boutiques and other retailers; in universities, as an educator, professor, fashion historian, dean, administrator, or researcher; and in museums, as a curator.

fashion designer
Fig: Fashion designer (Photo: Shutterstock)

Principal responsibilities of a fashion designer is to create or visualize an idea and produce a design by hand or using computer-aided design (CAD). Among the different responsibilities of a fashion designer, he/she may be responsible for designing one or more product categories, one or more subcategories or one or more of the sub subcategories, depending on the size and structure of the company. The following is an example of the breakdown of subcategories within a larger product category:

  • Menswear (Product Category)
  • Tailored Clothing (Subcategory)
  • Suits
  • Sports Coats and Blazers
  • Dress Shirts
  • Trousers
  • Overcoats
  • Formal wear
  • Tuxedos (Sub-subcategory)
  • Cummerbunds
  • Bow ties

There are six different types of designers including, 1) apparel, 2) accessories, 3) footwear, 4) technical, 5) CAD (computer-aided design), and 6) textile.

Main duties and responsibilities of fashion designer is in charge of the design and development of clothing and other fashion products. Fashion designers in charge of guiding all steps of the design process, from initial conception to final manufacture and marketing. He or she has to do monitoring current fashion trends and movements with the purpose of designing products that meet contemporary purchasing preferences. He has to do creating or visualizing an idea and producing a design by hand or using computer-aided design (CAD).

Responsibilities of a fashion designer vary greatly depending on the type of industry, the type of job, and the type of products on which he or she decides to focus. For example, the fashion industry identifies some main areas of clothing design: menswear, women’s wear, haute couture, ready to- wear, and designer fashions, but there are others. Just a few recognized areas include knitwear, sportswear, children’s clothing, evening wear, and lingerie. And that’s just clothing. Designers also can work in jewelry, handbags, shoes, and hats. Also considered to be within the designer trade are fashion forecasters, who focus on picking trends for design houses.

fashion designer studio
Fig: Fashion designer studio (Photo: Shutterstock)

Other fashion designers produce their own labels, either as full time employees or as independent contractors working for a particular design house. A contract fashion designer can, for example, design one item—such as a dress—for one label and other items for other labels.

No matter where or what they work on, however, the work of fashion designers follows a typical chronology. A fashion designer must study the trends in fashion and understand what would appeal to a customer. He or she may cultivate a particular customer or group of customers and design for their needs. Listening to and cultivating customers is an important part of what a fashion designer does. Establishing communication with customers and making them feel a part of the decision-making process has been important to success.

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Along with studying trends, a fashion designer must also decide on a theme for his or her collection. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and it is usually the key to getting recognition from the fashion community.

Once a designer has an inspiration, he or she must develop that inspiration by designing and making some sample products. While many designers continue to design by hand, many others now use computer-aided design (CAD) programs. These programs allow designers to sketch with virtual models and switch colors, shapes, and patterns. After they have an initial idea, fashion designers try out various fabrics and produce a prototype, often with less expensive material than will be used in the final product. They work with models to see how the design will look and adjust the designs as needed. These samples are then photographed and sent to editors or are tested out in trade and fashion shows. Depending on the response that they get in these initial steps, designers may revamp a design or discard it. Sometimes a particular star picks up a designer’s early efforts. Having a star such as Lady Gaga wear a piece of a designer’s clothing or shoes can make the designer an overnight success.

Fashion designers create the fashions for men, women, and children to wear morning and night, at work and at play. Most specialize in one particular type of clothing, such as bridal gowns, swim wear, lingerie, infant’s clothing, uniforms, or men’s suits. They work for fashion salons, textile manufacturers, big chain department stores, and pattern manufacturers. Some prefer to free lance and build their own clientele of individual customers, specialty shops, and manufacturers.

A fashion designer stays on top of current fashion trends the same way we all do – by reading magazines, checking out what the actors are wearing on television, and window-shopping. Only the top designers get to be fashion leaders and create completely original designs. Most designers adapt existing de signs according to well-established guide lines and trends.


  1. Careers in Fashion by Bonnie Szumski
  2. Becoming a Fashion Designer by Lisa J. Springsteel
  3. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar
  4. Career as A Fashion Designer by Donna Karan

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  1. 11 Tips to Become a Successful Fashion Designer
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  3. Career Opportunities for Fashion Designers in India
  4. Scope of Fashion Designing Jobs in India
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