Thursday, 17 June 2010

I Want This Job: Ladieswear Designer

Most of us Blogger's are tuned in knee deep in fashion, living it, breathing it, buying it & wearing it! It's crossed my mind that some of you guys may be intrigued as to what it's like to work in the cut-throat industry that is Fashion...and asked questions like "is it really that glamorous, how do i become a stylist, is it really that bitchy or scary???"
Well, today I'm introducing a new feature called "I Want This Job", i'll be sharing varied jobs within the Fashion Industry with you all.

First in the series, is super talented Red-Head, Christine Macaulay, who studied Fashion at Manchester University before launching her career as a Designer.

Who: Christine Macaulay
Job title: Ladieswear designer

Where do you work/who do you work for?

A: based in Manchester, I work for a company called 'Influence', we design a range that is sold to various retailers across the U.K high street (House Of Fraser, New Look, Republic, Peacocks, NEXT, River Island)

What's a typical day like/work activities?

  • Researching trends (catwalk, internet, magazines, blogs)
  • Looking at websites of competitors on the market
  • Drawing flat sketches of garments that fit into the relevant stories (i.e key looks of the season)
  • Preparing design packs to send out to factories
  • Meeting customers to discuss design briefs (identify what they're looking for)
  • Answering emails from customers and factories
  • Posting garments to customers upon request

What do you love about your job?

Firstly the team I work with! They're the most amazing fun and creative group of people. My job allows me to be creative, travel and work with clothes...what more could you want?

What's not so great about it?

The work load is heavy and there's a lot of pressure to design clothes that will actually sell and not get too carried away, being a lover of all things floral, bright and shiny, this can sometimes prove tough!

What core responsibilities do you have as a designer?
  • Researching trends (catwalk, internet, magazines, blogs)
  • Shopping trips, identifying product direction/ gathering inspiration, photographing what people are wearing (H.K, NYC, L.A, Tokyo, China, Korea, Europe). We get alot of inspiration from vintage clothing, which I love!
  • International trips sourcing trims & fabrics (India, China, Korea, Turkey)
  • Designing placement and repeat prints/ graphics for woven & jersey range
  • Flat sketches, preparing tech packs for overseas production (China, India, Turkey)
  • Requesting mock up samples that demonstrate designs
  • Supervising fit sessions with technical staff
  • Amending garments dealing directly with international factories from initial design through to production
  • Attending meetings to present range to customer base
  • Making amendments according to customer brief
  • Overseeing factories to ensure garments arrive with customer on time
  • Phew!

What skills do you need to get into Fashion Designing?

  • The ability to work quickly and accurately under pressure!
  • Strong communication skills
  • CAD skills (Adobe PhotoShop,Illustrator)
  • Drawing ability (both freehand and technical)
  • Proficient creative pattern cutting
  • Competent sewing skills (freehand and machine)
  • Understanding of market
  • Knowledge of fabrics/ garment construction

Do you have to know how to design for all different areas of fashion? i.e soft separates, wovens, coats or accessories?

At the moment I'm designing woven garments (dresses, skirts, tops, playsuits) and also some jersey garments. It is not essential to have knowledge of all product types as such.
I have known people to switch from designing denim to say...outerwear, it is important to be adaptable and versatile and also pick up knowledge from others around you (in case you were ever to want to design other types of product).

Is it essential to know how to use CAD, use a sewing machine if you're designing for a retailer?

  • It helps to be able to use CAD although not essential, most people can pick it up quite quickly if required. Some people still only draw designs by hand which is cool as long as you can communicate your ideas clearly enough for a factory to understand. I find CAD is great when designing an intricate beading layout or embroidery design, it saves you drawing each individual bead and allows you to play around a lot more efficiently.
  • We don't use the sewing machine very often at our place, but you need to have a good understanding of garment construction to be able to identify if something has been made incorrectly and advise what needs to be improved/ changed.
  • It helps to be able to use a sewing machine if you want to mock up...say a sleeve or detail that you want to demonstrate to the factory for them to follow for production.

Did you have a portfolio when you started your career?

Yes! Most design graduates have a portfolio of some variety, you need to be able to show prospective employers your skill set/ drawing ability...your portfolio evolves quite quickly as you improve and learn new bits and bobs. - Keep building this up with new material.

How did you start networking/find your dream job?

I was approached by River Island at Graduate Fashion Week and offered my first job, so things have just evolved from there, you meet people everywhere you work and find out just how small the World is!

Any other advice you'd like to share?

  • Smile
  • Laugh
  • Stay focused, it can be a hard industry to crack into, but just keep working hard at what you enjoy.
  • Get a much experience as you can, be it internships (work experience), local clothing projects, absorb everything that will give you a better understanding of how the business works/things are made etc.
  • Be yourself.
Essential reading: Basics Fashion Design series by different Authors. The Construction series is very good, with clear, concise information if you're learning about pattern cutting, Surface specific techniques, Haute Couture etc.

Fashion Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones - this is a highly amusing, witty, (insight into the Fashion World) can't put it down book.
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