Fashion design assistant
Fashion design assistants help designers to create new materials, styles, colours and patterns for fashion brands and labels.
Salary range: £14,000 to £23,000
How to become a fashion design assistant
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
You could do a foundation degree or higher national diploma in fashion design or fashion and textiles.
You’ll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could take a college course to learn skills in pattern cutting, computer-aided cutting techniques and design software. Courses include:
- Level 2 Diploma In Skills for the Fashion Industries
- Level 3 Certificate in Fashion and Clothing
- Level 3 Diploma in Fashion and Textiles
- Level 3 Extended Diploma in Fashion Design and Production
A course that teaches both design and technical skills will give you the practical knowledge that employers look for.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You could start by taking an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in fashion and textiles. You could also do a fashion studio assistant or garment maker advanced apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You can start as a general assistant with a fashion company or retailer and work your way up, taking training and getting qualifications along the way.
Volunteering and experience
There is strong competition for jobs in the fashion industry, so any contacts and experience you can get will help when looking for work. You could get this through internships, work placements or volunteering.
You’ll need to put together a portfolio of your work to take to course and job interviews. This should include mood boards, designs and drawings. An employer or college may also ask you to take along actual clothes that you’ve produced.
You can find more details about working in fashion from:
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- design skills and knowledge
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
- the ability to use your initiative
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- ambition and a desire to succeed
- thinking and reasoning skills
- the ability to organise your time and workload
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- creating prototypes and tailoring garments
- producing technical sketches
- explaining creative ideas to designers
- finding sources for fabrics and trimmings
- creating mood, shape and trend boards
- getting approval for designs from customers
- working closely with factories and suppliers
- meeting with customers and fabric agents
- inspecting products during the design process
You could work in a creative studio or in a workshop.
Career path and progression
With experience you could become a fashion designer, then senior designer or design director. As a design director you could create your own range and manage a design team.
You could also move into freelance design, working on individual projects, or self-employment, creating your own collections.
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