- Henderson, K, quality and qualifications manager, Plastics and Materials Processing Industry Training Organisation, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Opai, M, 'The Death of Fashion?', accessed October 2011, (www.finz.co.nz).
- Origin Creative, 'NZ Fashion Tech Industry Survey 2012', 2012, (www.nzfashiontech.ac.nz).
Clothing Designer - About the job Alternative titles
Clothing designers create ideas for clothing and other fashion items such as bags, belts and hats. They usually specialise in one area of fashion.
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.
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
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.
- 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
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."
To become a clothing designer, a certificate, diploma or degree in fashion or textile design is recommended.
There are no specific secondary educational requirements to become a clothing designer, but NCEA Level 2 in technology, maths, English and art is preferred.
Clothing designers need to be:
- creative and imaginative
- motivated and dedicated
- able to work well under pressure
- accurate, with an eye for detail.
Anjali Stewart - Clothing Designer
Useful experience for clothing designers includes:
- work in the clothing industry
- fabric or fashion sales work
- colour or design work
- draughting or computer-aided design (CAD).
View information on courses in the course database
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
years of training usually required
What are the chances of getting a job?
Networking among fashion firms gives you a greater chance of finding work
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of people working as clothing designers rose by about 2% between 2010 and 2012.
Competition for vacancies that arise is strong because there are more clothing and fashion course graduates than job opportunities available.
However, the FashionTech Industry Survey 2012 reported that 95% of the 136 companies interviewed found it moderately to extremely difficult to find skilled staff to fill new positions. The survey also revealed that around 60% of companies either had the intention, or were considering employing new staff, in the next 6 to 12 months. Most new positions are never publicly advertised (57%), so chances are better if you network with people in the industry, and/or approach an employer yourself.
Establishing yourself as a clothing designer can be difficult
It is difficult to make a full-time living as a clothing designer, especially when you are first establishing yourself.
The cost of clothing produced in New Zealand can be high compared with most imported clothing. Many of New Zealand's established clothing designers now have their clothes manufactured overseas, where production costs are lower. However, overseas production is difficult for designers that are starting out, because it usually needs to be done on a larger scale to be cost-effective.
Practical experience and business skills important for designers
Practical experience is important for getting work as a clothing designer. The top four skills required by employers are garment construction, pattern making, grading, technical production skills such as CAD and sample making. Many people who become clothing designers have gained these skills from other clothing-related roles such as:
To be competitive, clothing designers also need good business skills, including knowledge of:
- branding and marketing
- networking, including use of social media
Clothing designers usually self-employed
Some clothing designers are employed by large apparel manufacturers, but many are self-employed.
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Progression and specialisations
Clothing designers may specialise in an area such as:
- Costume Designer
- Costume designers create clothing to be used in theatre, film and television productions.
- Textile Designer
- Textile designers use traditional and modern textile manufacturing and decoration processes to create textiles for clothing and furnishings.
How many people are doing this job?
Job vacancies by region
Updated 19 Aug 2014