Could You Be a Freelance Fashion Designer?

by Jessica Santina
Fashion School Review Columnist

February 26, 2009

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Few jobs require as much networking, independent research, and creative problem-solving as fashion design. And for those who choose to become self-employed, these skills can make or break your business. Being a freelance fashion designer is tough--do you have the stuff?

Skim the pages of most fashion want ads, and you're likely to find listings for freelance fashion designers. One-quarter of the approximately 20,000 fashion designers working in the field today are self-employed.

As employers continue to scale back their overhead by outsourcing to freelancers, this percentage will increase. That bodes well for those seeking to self-employment in this fast-paced industry.

What Do Freelance Fashion Designers Do?

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Fashion Degree
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Often, clothing manufacturers will seek freelancers to create pieces for a particular line. They may have fabrics and styles in mind, or they may not. They may want nothing more than sketches, or they may want patterns, fabrics, or even samples. You might be asked to create one dress, or an entire line of swimwear.

With such a wide array of responsibilities, you must remain flexible. You'll need to conduct exhaustive research on your own to forecast trends, and see what fabrics others are using and what your competition is doing.

Why Fashion School Helps

Only those who maintain an up-to-date portfolio, do continuous research in the field of fashion, and network to make connections will stay busy. All of these things can be learned in fashion school. Not only do employers and potential clients prefer designers with formal schooling, but your fashion school training will show you how to maintain a top quality portfolio and will introduce you to important people in fashion that might offer you employment opportunities later. If you're considering freelance fashion design, fashion school should be your first priority.

The life of a freelance fashion designer is unpredictable--from your schedule to your pay. But for the gratification of steering your own career, the benefits of self-employment make all this effort more than worth it.


About the Author
Jessica Santina is a freelance writer with a background in media and marketing. She also teaches first-year writing courses at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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