A reference list of accessibility keys Careers New Zealand home page Sitemap Search the website About us Contact us govt.nz Jump to content Jump to site navigation main-menu Left column sub navigation menu Jump to page header Jump to page footer Jump to right-hand column

Clothing DesignerAlternative titles

Kaitātai Kākahu

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Costume Designer
Fashion Designer
Textile Designer

Clothing designers create ideas for clothing and other fashion items such as bags, belts and hats. They usually specialise in one area of fashion.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733


Clothing designers usually earn between $30,000 and $60,000 a year. However, those establishing a business may earn less than this, while those who have an established business and a well-known label can earn considerably more.

Source: Plastics and Materials Processing Industry Training Organisation.

What you will do

Clothing designers may do all or some of the following:

  • create or update fashion designs
  • prepare drawings of the designs
  • adapt patterns to a new style or create new patterns
  • select and buy fabrics or have fabrics developed
  • estimate how much the work will cost
  • inspect the quality of garments
  • plan clothing production methods
  • market garments.

Skills and knowledge

Clothing designers need to have:

  • up-to-date knowledge of clothing styles and trends
  • knowledge of the history of fashion
  • design and drawing skills
  • knowledge of fabric types, colours and fabric care
  • sewing skills and knowledge of tailoring techniques
  • knowledge of garment construction and pattern-making skills
  • knowledge of body shapes
  • computer skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Working conditions

Clothing designers:

  • may work long and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends
  • work in offices, workrooms, factories or clothing shops
  • may travel to different factory sites and to local or overseas fashion shows.

What's the job really like?

Anjali Stewart - Clothing Designer

Anjali Stewart
Childhood friends now run a joint business

Twentysevennames is the brainchild of clothing designers Anjali Stewart and Rachel Easting. Friends since primary school, they've managed to convert their interest in clothing and design into an effective business partnership. "It's a small company, so decisions, down to every button, are made collectively. We used to do everything together – we'd be working at the cutting table, or we'd even sit down to write an email together! Eventually we got to the point where we were like, "This is too much!" Now it's easier because our roles are more defined.

"Rachel's now taken over the role of pattern maker and getting help for pattern making, while I look after the admin stuff, such as managing our tax, cash flow and liaising with all our stockists and media. Otherwise, it gets too hard working on lots of jobs at once, as your roles get really blurred and things can fall by the wayside."

Challenges and rewards of working with a friend

Asked if it's ever difficult working with a close friend, Anjali's answer is clear. "It's both hard work and really rewarding – you feel like you have to make the other person proud. I guess it's great having someone to answer to that you value."


Clothing designers usually earn
per year
Source: Plastics and Materials Processing Industry Training Organisation.
Hannah Cox looking at fabric samples

Textile designer Hannah Cox inspects a range of fabric samples

Updated 19 Aug 2014