Making a Fashion Designer Salary

Donna Karan, Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren – who knows how many millions these famous designers pocket yearly as a fashion designer salary? The average fashion designer, on the other hand, makes much less than this, more so for those in entry-level positions. But the good thing about the fashion industry is that it pays well, and there’s a lot of room for growth and a hefty pay raise for those who are really motivated.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the normal fashion designer salary range is very wide, with starting pay grades at around $32,500 per annum for the lowest ten percent and a whopping $130,890 annually for those in the highest ten percent. The median annual fashion designer salary is at $74,440 and the average annual salary is $64,530.

Factors Affecting Salaries

The fashion industry has a very broad scope, encompassing so many different fields globally. It even crosses boundaries to interact with other professions and industries. Because of this, there are quite a number of positions in the field, from seamstresses to fashion advertising executives. Position is of course the main factor affecting a fashion designer salary. The higher you rise, the more you get paid, and there are certain areas in fashion that pay more than others.

Educational background is another thing that employers consider when promoting people and wages. The more knowledge and skills you have, the more confident your employers will be in you and the more likely you are to rise in the ranks. Another thing to consider is the geographic location. There are more opportunities in the urban areas, especially in the known fashion capitals like New York, L.A., or Paris and you’ll have better chances of earning a higher fashion designer salary.

High-Paying Areas

According to research, the highest-paying areas in fashion are those that have to do with the film and television industries, wholesalers, footwear manufacturing, electronic market and durable goods. The highest employment levels were in piece goods, apparel merchant wholesalers, cut-and-sew apparel, notions, knitting mills and specialized design services.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also forecast that between 2008 and 2018, there will be little change in the industry, as the high demand for fashion designers and other career opportunities continues to draw fierce competition. Clothing brands that mass-produce for the public are said to have the best chances for success. In the United States, the highest-paying states for fashion as of 2010 were New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Wisconsin and California. Meanwhile, New York, California, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida had the highest employment rates in the American fashion industry.

There are other related occupations that you might want to consider, such as interior design, jewelry, metal and precious stone workers, artists, photographers, writers and editors. Interior designers contribute by creating beautiful and safe office spaces and may even help during shows while those in the jewellery are in charge of producing accessories and other materials for clothing. If you really want a fashion designer salary, you’ll have to work your way up by using your skills and talents and find your niche in the industry.

How to Become a Successful Fashion Designer

If you are like me you live and breathe fashion. You are constantly inspired with so many new designs racing through your mind, so many you can’t seem to get them all down quick enough at the pace they arrive. You constantly dream of the day your fashions will be on the fashion runway with the lights beaming brightly overhead, the cameras flashing everywhere and the audience being completely mesmerized by your incredible designs. You can’t stop thinking of the day you will open a magazine or watch the Oscars and see a famous celebrity in one of your breathtaking designs. Your book shelf is stocked with fashion books and magazines, and you absolutely can’t resist visiting textile stores to view all the latest fabrics, decorative beads, rhinestones and trims.

It’s this ever present dream of being a successful fashion designer that has you work day and night on your designs in most cases for many years without pay and working a job to pay the pills which is brutal torture, when all you can think about is living and working in fashion.

Famous fashion designers come from all walks of life there is no one system to follow that will have you become the next famous fashion designer. Some have graduated from elite fashion schools and some have never attended fashion school. Some have undertaken a fashion internship with a fashion house and others have made their own designs in their basement. The only elements all these fashion designers have in common is they had an intense passion for fashion, were able to design fashions highly sought after and connected with someone who gave them the opportunity to break into the fashion industry. It is essential in becoming a successful fashion designer you get you and your designs out there as much as possible, as how will anyone know about your fashions if they can’t see them?

In getting your fashions out there here are a few things you can do:

1. We are not usually good at everything some of us are great at designing clothes but lack the sewing and pattern making skills. It is here you can partner with someone who shares your passion for fashion and has the skills you lack. It is in the bringing together of different skills you can create a real product that can be showcased.
2. In having a fashion line of 14 outfits you can apply to your local fashion week. In the USA: New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco all have fashion weeks. These fashion weeks attract many editors, journalists and local socialites who will see your fashions and potentially give you the exposure you need to get known.
3. Many city night clubs hold fashion shows, find out what night clubs hold fashion shows and contact them as to how you can be apart of an up and coming show.

4. Locate fashion boutiques that cater to the fashions you design, first make a trip to the stores to look around, if you can see your clothes fitting in well with the store, find out who the owner is and ask if they would be willing to have some of your fashions offered for sale in their store. You will be amazed at how many store owners are willing to work with you. I walked around San Francisco in the Nob Hill district and had my fashions placed after visiting and discussing my product with four boutiques. In having your fashions displayed you will receive valuable insights as to whether or not your designs are in demand and if you need to change your designs to increase sales. It will also give you free exposure to the public. When your fashions do sell you can present this to investors who are more than willing to invest in your line, when you prove the existence of a strong demand for your fashions.

Becoming a Fashion Designer

It seems like everyone is jumping on the designer bandwagon these days. And why not? The fashion industry is sexy – fashion shows, parties, celebrities, recognition, and even fame go along with a career in fashion.

Now herein lies the question: do you go to design school or go straight to starting a business? Not all fashion designers go the traditional route to design school, instead drawing on an entrepreneurial spirit, some “designers” turn their head for business into a thriving fashion enterprise.

Ralph Lauren is an example of a fashion designer who bypassed the sewing machine and headed straight for the marketplace. Which path you take depends on your personal motivation. If you love sewing and pattern making, the traditional route is going to bring the most satisfaction. If you love the fashion world but don’t have the patience for needle and thread, a career in the fast-paced and exciting fashion biz is still possible … read on.

So you want to go out on your own, what’s first?

You’ve always admired fashion designers and their ability to design trendy, unique and wearable fashions season after season, as if by magic. But it’s not magic; it’s a business. And to succeed in business, nobody is an island (meaning that everyone needs a little help to accomplish his or her dreams). And it’s not all glitz and glamour. Being a fashion designer means you have to actually run a business.

Before you print up those business cards, ask yourself if you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves and tackle the not-so fun aspects of fashion.

At first, running a fashion business could mean fulfilling orders yourself (i.e., packing boxes until the wee hours of the morning), steaming clothes repeatedly during fashion shows, and bookkeeping. You could spend only a small percentage of your time actually designing; instead you’re networking, schmoozing and negotiating with suppliers and vendors.

If you’re planning to take the direct-to-consumer path, you’ll have to create a website and maintain it (and most likely have to pay someone to handle these tasks), get a merchant account to process credit card transactions and manage charge back cycles. If you’re not interested in learning what these things mean, then you may decide to work for a large fashion house to learn the ropes.

But if you have the endurance and enough friends with skills or services you can trade for, you could go out on your own and succeed. Today is the age of entrepreneurship, why shouldn’t you get a piece of the pie?


The fashion biz: a reality check

Exciting industries are rife with competition-some that will fade away and others that will give you a run for your money. You have to compete against the big names out there and trendy emerging designers fresh out of the best design schools or veterans of big fashion houses-not to mention all the celebrities popping up with their own labels.

Running your own fashion biz may require you to reach out to suppliers and potential customers all over the world, which means you better be organized. Are you prepared to coordinate the procurement of raw materials like fabric, trim and hardware, so that your manufacturer gets what they need at the right time to deliver a finished product on deadline?

Think of yourself as a business person first and a fashion designer second. If your fashion business fails, you’re the one that suffers. Always keep the business aspect in the forefront of your mind. Some people find this prospect exhilarating, while others can’t think of anything more horrifying. Still interested in starting your own fashion business?

I’m not a designer, can I still work in the fashion industry?

Yes … and no. If you have the design vision, you can pay people to take your idea and turn it into a tangible pattern or design. This is sort of like what a creative director does. If this fits your situation, then you’d better have the business chops to get your business off the ground and you’d better have a solid Core Value Proposition.

What this means is that you must have a strong business proposal and offer a product that’s valuable and in demand. That doesn’t mean you have to sell high-end couture clothing to rich people. Clothiers H&M and Zara focus on fast ready-to-wear fashion at affordable pricepoints.

There is more than one path to becoming a fashion designer. You can learn to sew and go to design school to learn the ins-and-outs of the business. But not everyone learns to draw patterns and stitch together garments. The keys to succeeding in the fashion business are creativity, a good business sense and determination.

Stay tuned for more advice on becoming a fashion designer.