The fashion industry is centred primarily in major urban centres. It is very competitive.
New designers must develop their own lines and promote their services by entering shows or organizing their own shows. Some designers cater to small specialty stores. Others produce specific clothing lines such as uniforms, safety and protective apparel, or leisure wear. Designers may hire an agent at a fashion market who represents several fashion designers together. This often leads to greater exposure.
Designers just starting out with manufacturing companies usually rotate through jobs. For example, they may start as assistant to the pattern maker. They may then move on to draper, sample maker, grader, and dressmaker. With experience they may become design assistants.
Many designers work as in-house designers for specialty stores. Others freelance (produce individual designs for clients). Costume designers may work in the theatre or film industries. For details on this occupation, see the Costume Designer occupational profile.
Self-employed fashion designers may work out of their own home or studio. They handle their own production and distribution, without the help of a manufacturing or distribution facility. Setting up an independent fashion design business requires a large capital investment and extensive promotion activities to reach consumers and establish brand recognition.
Fashion designers may use their skills full time in accessory design, fashion consulting, or designing uniforms for large corporations. They may work part time as fashion illustrators, photographers’ stylists, fashion writers, fashion show commentators, or costume designers.
Fashion designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:
The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:
- Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above)
- Location in Alberta
- Employment turnover (work people leave existing positions)
- Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
- Size of the occupation
Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.