What and who really makes a fashion designer? You may describe a fashion designer as an individual with an aristocratic style and a high sense or taste for clothes and accessories. But anybody can have this qualities and would still not qualify to be a fashion designer.

Simply put, A fashion designer is someone who loves to study fashion trends, sketch designs, select materials, and have a part in all the production aspects of their designs. They contribute to the creation of millions, if not billions of pieces of clothing and accessories purchased by consumers on a yearly basis.

How does your local fashion designer relate to the above definition? Does He/She study fashion trends, sketch designs, select materials, and have a part in all the production aspects of their designs. Partly, I must confess. Our local fashion designers are not really designers but Tailors like advanced Obioma (a name for local tailors in the Igbo language).

Obioma local fashion designer
Obioma, A local tailor

It has become a new trend for Young Africans who have no formal training in the field to proclaim the very juicy title “Fashion Designer”. These young chaps watch too much of TV Fashion shows and perhaps might have briefly learned the trade under a local fashion designer down the street. To be a fashion designer you must have formal training either at a design school or must have apprenticed under a popular fashion designer. No jumps into fashion design from nowhere.

These are steps you need to take to become a fashion designer

First, apply to a fashion school

There are a lot of fashion schools that have fashion programs, but not all of them have the kind or reputation needed to really push your career. It can be really difficult to enter this schools as competition can be high and they tend to be very selective of who they admit. During your time in fashion school, you will take fine arts classes and study drawing, color compositions and form. You will also learn cutting technique, draping and pattern making.

Creativity is an important criteria fashion schools look out for in prospecting students, You might be required to send a portfolio of drawings of your designs and finished works. If you’re truly creative, getting in won’t be a problem.

Students at a fashion school
Students at a fashion school

If you can’t afford a attend a fashion design school, you can apprentice under a popular fashion designer in your country. All you need do is research the designer, make sure your chosen fashion designer fits into your chosen career path. Creativity is an essential criteria an already established fashion designer might use to if He/she is to take you on as an apprentice.

Second is the Business Sense Aspect of fashion

Creativity is not all a designer has to possess, a designer must have some business to maneuver His/Her way through the highly competitive fashion industry. As fashion gets more and more corporate driven, it is important to be aware of the business climate and the mechanics behind it all. Not every fashion designer can afford a business MBA but if you can its a wonderful addition to your skills.

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We will continue the rest of this piece in a new article which is part of our Fashion business series dedicated to helping you stay on top of your fashion business.