What Does it Mean to be a Fashion Designer?

What does it mean to be a fashion designer and why is fashion design important?

The fashion industry generates approximately $350 billion a year in the United States, providing tremendous employment and positions in design, manufacturing, wholesale, retail, marketing, advertising, and social media. At the heart of this enormous industry is clothing and accessories. 

Various words and images come to mind when we think of a fashion designer: glamour, lights, runway, artistic expression. But in reality, it also takes hard work, dedication and strong business sense to be successful in this business.

A fashion designer is just one among a team of people who create garments that become a reflection of a society’s cultural political beliefs, trends, environment, ethics, economy and so much more. Fashion designers come from all walks of life. They may be shy and artsy, indifferent and rebellious, or bright and academic. Their character is revealed in what they offer up. Without fear, they use their creativity and personal experience to give us a piece of themselves. Fashion designers may work for themselves as an entrepreneur, or for a larger company.

To be more specific….

The fashion designer is:

Inspired and Artistic

Fashion designers draw inspiration from everywhere. It could be from a pattern on a wall, a raindrop on a leaf, a color combination, a textile, or even a word. They are artistic in their ability to solve creative problems using artistic techniques, and out-side-of-the box thinking.


With a technical eye that can put together the pieces of a garment puzzle and make it fit, drape, conform, and enhance. A fashion designer must also have the ability to think through the function of a garment, to create pieces that are useful and appealing to those who will be wearing it.


Stagnation may occur when a design doesn’t evolve properly– whether it’s their technical skills or creative ideas to make garments that make them relevant and appealing to their customer. A designer is ever-curious about the rapidly evolving world and never stops learning.

All in all, a fashion designer cannot be described in one sentence. They are the artistic and technical, simple and complicated, courageous and expressive, creative and yet practical. Fashion designers bring the clothing that you wear every day to life, expressing themselves through the multi-billion dollar business that effects everyone.

While some may think of Paris or New York when it comes to fashion, California has recently gained media attention as the center for the fashion industry. LA County, with more than 87,000 jobs in the fashion industry, has surpassed New York’s fashion district workforce according to Discover Los Angeles. Southern California also employs the largest number of apparel workers in the U.S. and is one of the few places in the country where apparel continues to be manufactured. Apparel manufacturing employed 43,600 waged and salaried workers in Los Angeles County in 2014. NY-based Breaking Media’s fashion news site Fashionista.com recently reported on downtown Los Angeles as being the “coolest place in the country for fashion brands to open up a store.”

With four California campuses strategically located in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco, FIDM offers 26 Bachelor’s and Associate Degree programs in design and creative business. Our students partner on special Industry Partner Projects with brands like bebe, Murad, Athleta, Signal Snowboards, Lacoste, GUESS, and TOMS.  Part-time work and Internships with companies like J Brand Jeans, Stila, BCBG, and The Hunger Games movies are built into the curriculum.

Learn more about FIDM’s Fashion Design program in the video below:

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