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Fashion designing: Dressing the world

Why fashion designing?

With Indian designers making their mark in the world of fashion, not just in India but internationally, fashion designing is one career that has a lot of potential. With role models like Ritu Beri, Rohit Bal, JJ Vallaya and Ritu Kumar fashion designing as a profession today has gained a lot of respect and acceptance.

The fashion industry is experiencing a “Boom” thanks to the Indian consumer becoming more fashion conscious. India enjoys a prominent place in the international market with its rich silks, traditional handloom fabrics, rustic textures and vibrant dyes. The creation of a world market for Indian garments is largely the contribution of Indian fashion designers.

Fashion designers create designs for not just the garments but also for a range of accessories that men, women and children adorn. These designs are made keeping in mind customer's needs, which are influenced by current trends, market predictions, western markets and the climate.

Personal qualities

Visual imagination, creative skills, a sense of colour and eye for detail are among the essential requisites for a career in fashion design. Other skills required include an interest in fashion designing, self-confidence, ability to deal with people and good communication skills.

Flair for creating with fabrics and know-how of textiles is important coupled with a keen sense of observation to follow the current trends and predict future trends. They must be fashion conscious and aware of market requirements. An understanding of the market and customer lifestyle is required, so that designs are suitable for people they are made for. A little bit of forecasting is required to get noticed and come up with innovative ideas.

Designers must be good communicators and should be able to work with the design staff. Their clarity of their ideas must be reflected in the presentation of fashion shows. Selling a design requires an ability to persuade and influence. Self-employed/freelance designers need business acumen. Designers must be observant and must have a good memory.

Much more than glamour

Although most young people see fashion designing as a glamorous profession, it involves much hard work. The glamour is just a part of the total picture, as there is a constant pressure to come up with interesting and creative ideas while working against deadlines.

Fashion Designing is a lot more than sketching a pattern on a piece of paper . Designers have to express their designs in sketches. They need not be excellent artists but should be capable of combining tones, shades and colors. As a designer one should have knowledge and experience of basic tailoring skills i.e. cutting, sewing and draping.

Good designers are always original, experimentative and inventive in designing custom made outfits and designer dresses. Designers are always experimenting with new design styles every season. Much time of the designer is spent in exploration and research. Computers can also be used in pattern design and grading; intelligent pattern engineering (IPE) systems enable great automation in generating patterns.

Institutes and training

Students majoring in Fashion Design must integrate professional skills with a well-rounded general education. Training helps in bringing out the latent talent and sharpens the natural flair for designing. Fashion designing courses are generally offered to students after 10+2. These courses impart training in all aspects of garment manufacture.

Among the most sought-after design schools is the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) with centres in New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Gandhingar. Apart from this other popular institutes are National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad; Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi; Wigan Fashion School, New Delhi; National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFD), Chandigarh; J D Institute of Fashion Technology, Jaipur and Sophia B.K. Somani Polytechnics; Mumbai

Polytechnics and other universities also offer fashion design and other allied specializations as Diploma and PG Diploma courses. Specialized courses include pattern making, surface design, and tailoring.

It usually takes 2-3 years to complete the diploma/degree in Fashion Designing. Those eligible include graduates or diploma holders from any discipline or 10+2 students with a minimum of 3 to 5 years experience in areas of craft. There is an entrance test and one has to qualify to get admission.

Entry to the best institutes being tough, students could gain from a year's experience in a polytechnic/ vocational/second rung fashion course to enter prestigious courses.

Employment avenues

In the beginning designers usually receive on-the-job training, and normally need 1 to 3 years of training before they advance to higher-level positions. As the timings for this profession can be flexible college students can start drawing designs in their spare time and sell their ideas to full time designers, it is a great way to make pocket money and also to make a name for oneself right from when you are still a student.

Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head, or other supervisory positions. Some designers become teachers in design schools and colleges and universities. Some experienced designers open their own firms. Some high-fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. Other high-fashion designers cater to specialty stores or high fashion department stores.

Other employment avenues for a fashion designer can be textile manufacturers, garment export houses, fashion show organizers, fashion magazines or you can set out to be an entrepreneur.

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