Fashion Designer

Fashion designers are commercial artists who design clothing and accessories, creating original designs or adapting fashion trends, and designing clothing advertisements for newspapers, magazines and television spots.

Fashion designers confer with sales and management executives or with clients in order to discuss design ideas, identify target markets for designs, looking at factors such as age, gender and socioeconomic status, and attend fashion shows and review garment magazines and manuals in order to gather information about fashion trends and consumer preferences.  If they are involved in film, television or theatrical productions, they research the styles and periods of clothing needed, read scripts and consult directors and other production staff in order to develop design concepts and plan productions.

They sketch rough and detailed drawings of apparel or accessories, and write specifications such as colour schemes, construction, material types and accessory requirements.  They select materials and production techniques to be used for the products.  They draw patterns for the articles designed, then cut patterns and cut material according to the patterns, using measuring instruments and pairs of scissors or direct and coordinate workers involved in drawing and cutting patterns and constructing samples or finished garments.  They sew together sections of material to form mock-ups or samples of garments or articles, using sewing equipment, and test fabrics or oversee testing so that garment care labels can be created.  They determine prices for styles, provide sample garments to agents and sales representatives, and arrange for showings of the sample garments at sales meetings or fashion shows.

They design custom clothing and accessories for individuals or retailers, and may adapt other designers' ideas for the mass market. They may develop a group of products and/or accessories and market them through venues such as boutiques or mail-order catalogues, and collaborate with other designers to coordinate special products and designs.

Fashion designers also illustrate brochures, pamphlets and catalogues. They sketch the new fashions shown in photographs or worn by mannequins or live models in such a way as to attract the attention of readers or viewers and stimulate their interest in purchasing the garment.

Fashion designers need to pay special attention to small details that may easily be overlooked, since these are the very things that may make the garment more attractive to the buying public. They constantly strive to see fashion in original and interesting ways and often work with advertising personnel to develop new approaches to promotion.

Personal Requirements

  • artistic ability and vivid imagination
  • show good taste
  • work well under pressure
  • able to visualise ideas on paper
  • adaptable, ambitious and persevering
  • good business sense
  • well-developed sense of responsibility
  • good vision and sense of colour
  • eye for small detail

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

Degree: Art and Fine Art, Art History etc. - all universities. Fashion Design - UJ.

Diploma: Fine Arts - CUT, DUT, TUT, VUT.
Fashion - all universities of technology.


  • publishers of newspapers and magazines
  • television stations
  • retail and departmental stores
  • clothing manufacturers and wholesalers
  • advertising agencies
  • mail order houses
  • speciality clothing shops
  • self-employment, with enough experience, initiative and capital, can start own business, for example a boutique

Further Information

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

Getting Started

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

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

University of Johannesburg: Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture


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