Fashion: A Career
If You are talented and exude style in everything you do. Your originality and creativity are an extension of who you are and what you are about. You love to make people look good, that’s what drives your passion to create and if you have weighed the pros and the cons and come to the firm conclusion that fashion is your passion, there are many exciting avenues that you could explore by way of a career in this field
The word ‘fashion’ immediately conjures up images of glitz and glamour. And many young people, attracted by these attributes decide to foray into fashion only to realise that what they see outside is not the inside story. Admittedly, there are some glamorous aspects to this business. As part of the fash frat (fashion fraternity for the uninformed), you may get to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, but reaching there is sheer hard work.
Fashion Design can be divided into three main branches — Garment design, Leather design, Accessory & Jewell design.
Here we will focus on Garment design, While the saying “clothes make a man” merits debate, the fact is we no longer wear clothes to keep ourselves covered or warm, but to express our personality and “attitude”. This is where the fashion designer steps in, to help us make the correct fashion statement. Creating a style, using the right fabric, the right cut and a good finish, the designer turns out either a singular creation (one of its kind) that may sell for a king’s ransom, or more usually, outfits that will reach a retail outlet in different sizes and colors. In certain cases, the garment may even be mass-produced for a specific market.
Garments include items of regular clothing, generally western style, although there is a growing local market for Indian style designer wear such as salwar-kameez, sherwanis, ghagra-cholis, kurtis and so on.
There are four courses of action that you can adopt to launch into the career of your dreams:
- Lawyers in private practice usually work for long and irregular hours meeting clients, researching and reading about new
- Apprenticeship under a flourishing, well-known designer.
- Employment in an export house or garment manufacturing unit.
- Freelancing for fashion houses and boutiques.
- Self-employment, as in opening your boutique or manufacturing unit or an export outfit to showcase your talent.
Nothing can compare with the absolute joy when your creation is admired and appreciated for its style and finish. And the high-voltage publicity and applause as you proceed for the curtain call at the end of a stunning show won’t hurt either. Today fashion designers share equal space on Page 3 as models and film stars.
In India, the fashion industry has just begun to come of age. As it is still in its fledgling stage, it offers plenty of opportunities for enthusiastic, talented and hard working youngsters.
Prospects for fashion design graduates are pretty good thanks to the huge and still growing demand for “designer wear” and the equally large volume of exports.
What with the sheer variety and availability of materials – from traditional silks and ikats to jamawars and handlooms in vibrant weaves and dyes – India is a fashion designer’s dream.
Until a few years ago, there was not a single Indian name in the global fashion scene. However with the establishment of NIFT and some other fashion schools, a band of gifted designers is already making its mark on the fashion firmament. Today names like Ritu Kumar, Ritu Beri, Rohit Bal, Sunit Verma, JJ Vallaya and Tarun Tahiliani have virtually become household names – what with the media showcasing their talent across double-page spreads in glossy mags and sundry fashion-related programmes on TV.
What it takes? -
A question often asked by young people is whether they really need to be trained to be a designer. Most young people who are able to sketch well and have an interest in fashion believe their talent and interest already qualifies them for the fashion industry. But fashion design is not just about sketching pretty clothes. Barring a few exceptions where talent borders on genius, it is certainly recommended that you pursue a course in fashion design. And you can do so straight after school. There are a variety of courses available to suit different needs and budgets.
While the academic requirements are not very high, you need considerable aptitude and talent to be labelled “designer” material. You must be highly creative to combine colours, shades and textures, and express your ideas through sketches.
If you can visualise designs and enjoy working with fabrics and accessories you are looking at the right career. Along with fashion consciousness and creativity, you also need excellent communication skills to articulate your ideas and understand the client’s requirements. Knowledge of the market and a good eye for detail are the other must-haves.
Beware though fashion is as much about technique as about style. You need to be clued in on manufacturing technology, time and motion studies, plant efficiency, labour motivation, zero-defect production — all are extremely relevant to this industry.
Before you become a name to reckon with, be prepared to put in tons of hard work and running around.
However, fashion design is just one of the many careers that a student of fashion design prepares for. There are a number of others such as marketing and merchandising, fashion co-ordination, fashion journalism, etc.
What you'll make?
The fancy salaries and the hype that you read about in the glossies is only for those who are really talented to begin with or those passing out of the premier institutes. For the rest, finding a decent toehold can be pretty tough. Also considering the fact that just about everyone is rushing into fashion designing, it may be wise to opt for some of the other courses like Merchandising, Accessory Designing, Garment Manufacturing Technology, etc., all of which have a component of fashion design in them.
Having said that, the money is pretty good. As a fresher you’ll start out with a monthly package of Rs.8,000-14,000. A couple of years down as your designing skills mature, your salary would be in the range of Rs.30,000-40,000. Of course, if you become a marquee designer and are lucky enough to go international.
Where to study?
Your race for admission into a reputed fashion school will begin straight after school. Subjects like drawing, painting, home science, computer graphics will develop your creativity.
By the time you finish the course you will have mastered the step-by-step production of a garment — from designing to pattern making, production and even marketing.
Although, if you are interested in further specialisation to work in a large manufacturing unit or start your own fabrication unit someday, you could opt for post-graduate courses in garment manufacture, merchandising, etc.
When we talk of fashion, we often forget the wide range of accessories that also constitute fashion. Although the courses listed here mainly pertain to apparel design, you could opt for a course in accessory design or specifically in jewellery design, knitwear design, footwear design or leather design — the options are as diverse as the range and variety of accessories themselves.
Apeejay Institute of Design, 54, Tughlaqabad Institutional Area, Mehrauli Badarpur Road, New Delhi 110062 www.appejay.edu
National Institute of Design (NID), Paldi, Ahmedabad 380007. www.nid.edu
National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFD), Chandigarh. www.nifd.net
National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), at New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta, Hyderabad, Chennai, Gandhinagar, Bangalore. www.niftindia.com
Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT), C-115, Phase-VII, Industrial Area, Mohali 160055 www.niiftindia.com
Pearl Academy of Fashion, C-56/2 Okhla Indl Area, Phase II, New Delhi 110020 www.pearlacademy.com
SNDT Women's University, Mumbai www.sndt.edu
Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, PO Box 6430 Yelahanka, Bangalore 560064 (Kar) www.srishtiblr.org
University Of Mumbai, M G Road, Fort, Mumbai 400032 (Mah). www.mu.ac.in
Wigan & Leigh College etc.
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