How to get started with fashion design

Last Updated on 6th January 2024

Fashion design can be fantastic as a hobby, side hustle or full-time career. It combines multiple skills and allows for a great expression of creativity. Whether you’re completely new to the fashion industry, or you’ve been religiously reading vogue for years, here are some top tips on how to get started without going on a fashion design course.

Dive into your own wardrobe

Getting started in fashion design doesn’t need to be expensive or indeed require a BA Hons Fashion Design Degree. Experimenting with the clothes you currently own is a great place to start, with many self-taught fashion designers starting with creative pattern cutting. Having a few high-quality fashion tools will make sure you can experiment with precision. Consider investing in a quality pair of scissors, from a reputable supplier such as RS, a tape measure, and some needle and thread.

These will stand you in good stead to begin making alterations to your current wardrobe. You could try cropping a t-shirt or embellishing a jacket, to begin with. Once you gain confidence, you can move on to making clothing or accessories from scratch with materials you have at home. This could be from anything; from clothes you no longer wear to your old curtains that have been gathering dust. There are lots of great tutorials to follow online if you aren’t sure where to get started.

fashion designer works with fabric samples

Content is king

Now is a better time than ever to build a brand when starting a new venture. When building a brand and increasing exposure, social media is going to become your new best friend. The increase in popularity of short-form videos such as Tik Toks and Instagram reels lend very well to fashion design.

Once your technical skills have developed, it’s now time to start sharing some content online. Take your followers through the design process from initial sketches to the final product and be sure to show off what distinguishes your work from others. Social media is also a great place to gleam inspiration for your next pieces and collections.

Reach out to professionals

Once you have established a presence online, this gives you good backing for reaching out to other fashion professionals. These could be your favourite designers, others starting out in fashion design, or potential local suppliers and retailers. Ultimately, knowing more people in the fashion industry is only going to benefit you. If you don’t already have one, set up a LinkedIn account for an easy way to connect with others.

fashion design student at work

Gain work experience

Similar to lots of other industries, work experience will help you massively in fashion design. This is where your LinkedIn profile is likely to come in handy again. Keep an eye on what opportunities are out there, these are likely to range from month-long internships to year-long placements, through to entry-level jobs.

The more experience you get the better and don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there. When you do secure work experience, try and get as much from it as you can, ask to shadow in different areas of the business to get a feel for what you enjoy the most and it can inspire you to set up your own company.

Build your portfolio

In fashion, it is very common for employers or clients to ask to see a portfolio of your existing work as part of their entry requirements. For former fashion design students your portfolio should demonstrate your abilities and take the reader through the journey you go on when creating a piece. Quality over quantity is essential here, it is better to have a smaller portfolio that shows off your best work rather than a bigger one that has pages that don’t add value. Don’t forget to include your personal information too!