Clothing Designer

Clothing designers apply their knowledge of style, line, colour, proportion and fabrics to the task of designing clothing. The industry covers a broad spectrum of work and a designer may slot in at various levels of creativity.

Clothing design is a very competitive field and only a few designers become trend-setting fashion leaders. Factories manufacturing garments for the mass market employ most of the clothing designers.

Clothing designers create clothes that can be produced within a certain price range and in keeping with current styles and trends. They get ideas for styles by scanning trade publications, visiting stores and travelling and observing lifestyles. They develop and record their ideas by making sketches, draping dummies and making patterns.

They select colours, fabric and trimmings for their designs and then prepare samples or model garments, which are checked carefully for appearance, fit and quality of work. If accepted, the samples are included in their lines and presented to sales personnel or private clients.

Fashion styling falls into this field and entails the selection and adaptation of high-fashion garments for lower-budget production for the mass market. A designer may also specialise in certain types of clothing, such as footwear, hats, or sportswear.

Personal Requirements

  • creativity, imagination and an interest in fashion
  • good sense of colour, line and proportion
  • an eye for detail
  • drawing ability
  • able to solve problems
  • able to work independently
  • self-discipline
  • able to meet deadlines
  • business sense and sales ability

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.

What to Study

Diploma The three-year National Diploma: N.Dip: Fashion Design or Clothing Production is offered by NMMU, WSU, CPUT, CUT, TUT, UJ, DUT, VUT, and Maluti, Northlink, Port Elizabeth and Flavius Mareka TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges. DUT and TUT also offer a BTech in Fashion and Textile Design.

Private Colleges The following private colleges offer courses in Clothing or Fashion Design: Cape Town College of Fashion, ICESA, City Varsity, Intec and Lindiwe Kuzwayo Academy of Fashion Design. Linea Academy also offers training in Fashion Design and is currently following a validation path towards a BA degree in Fashion Design through Nottingham Trent University in the UK.


  • established couturiers, as fashion designer, pattern designer or fashion stylist
  • magazines, as a fashion illustrator
  • clothing manufacturers
  • textile companies
  • performing arts councils
  • self-employment, as a freelance fashion designer or own couturier business

Further Information

Textile Federation 
40 Seventh Avenue
Edenvale, 1609
Tel: (011) 454-2342

Getting Started

  • practise designing and sewing your own clothes
  • put together a portfolio of your designs
  • observe fashion trends in stores and magazines
  • try and find part-time or vacation work in a clothing shop or factory
  • speak to a clothing / fashion designer about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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