This job is sometimes referred to by 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.
Clothing designers usually earn
$33K-$50K per year
Source: Competenz, 2016.
Current job prospects
Clothing designers usually earn between minimum wage and $50,000 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: Competenz, 2016.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
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?
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.
I think you need to be someone who is really hard-working, determined and prepared to put yourself and your ideas out there.
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).
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Networking gives you greater chance of finding clothing design work
Competition for vacancies that arise is strong because there are more clothing and fashion course graduates than job opportunities available. In addition, most new positions aren't publicly advertised, so your chances are better if you network with people in the industry, and/or approach an employer yourself.
Chances are better for experienced clothing designers, as fashion companies report difficulty finding skilled staff to fill new positions.
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 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.
Clothing designers usually self-employed
While some clothing designers are employed by large apparel manufacturers, such as Helen Cherry and Tigerlily, many are self-employed.
- Competenz website, accessed April 2016, (www.competenz.org.nz).
- Fashion NZ website, accessed April 2016, (www.fashion.co.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Origin Creative, 'NZ Fashion Tech Industry Survey 2012', 2012, (www.nzfashiontech.ac.nz).
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.
Last updated 1 June 2017