Top 5 Skills You Need to Be a Fashion Designer

Published/Updated on:
December 9, 2020
Whether we pay attention to it or not, Fashion is a huge part of our everyday lives. Be it for functionality, or self-expression, it is magic to see a sketch become fabric draped across a mannequin, and finally, a piece of clothing, off to become a part of someone’s uniquely curated wardrobe. Though magical, the world of fashion design may seem daunting and distant. You may wonder – do I have what it takes to be a fashion designer? In this article, we share with you the 5 most important skills that fashion designers need to have in order to make your mark in the industry as a fashion designer, and how’s Diploma in Apparel Design and Product Development is designed to support you through your journey.

1. Tell A Story

An iconic fashion designer who made his mark in the 1970s, and continues to capture the attention of fashion enthusiasts today, is none other than Ralph Lauren. Though he started small, by designing ties that he sold at Bloomingdale’s, a major department store in New York City, Lauren went on to solidify the presence of his brand, Polo Ralph Lauren, as one that was synonymous with a timeless, elite lifestyle.

What was his secret? Simply put, Lauren was committed to building his brand around the vision and experience of high society. His designs were timeless and effortlessly classy and made the once-elusive elite world accessible to millions of people. Lauren, like many other successful designers, told a story with his designs.

In order to design a meaningful and successful collection, it’s important to first start with a vision. Whether you’re looking to reimagine Victorian fashion in the 21st century, or you’re passionate about the environment and creating pieces that incorporate natural elements, a clear vision will help give you a sense of direction when designing your collection and putting together a brand. What’s more, with courses like Fashion Design Collection, you’ll be equipped with the skills to analyse market trends, and take inspiration from runway shows to ensure that your collection truly brings your creative vision to life whilst still accounting for practical considerations.

2. Technical Skills

Let’s face it – to be a fashion designer, you need to understand how a garment comes together from start to finish. That means not only being able to draft sketches of your garments but also understanding how to manipulate fabrics to achieve your desired effect. Not to mention a whole host of sewing skills that are instrumental in creating professionally constructed garments. Technical skills undoubtedly take a lot of time and effort to master, but they are the main tools through which you’ll be able to bring your ideas to life.

Technical Skills - Sewing a Garment

Though the thought of building a garment from scratch may be daunting,’s Diploma in Apparel Design and Product Development is specially curated to include a range of courses that build your technical skills from the ground up. Courses such as Fit Evaluation and Pattern Alteration equip you with the skills to effectively evaluate the fit of garment patterns before they enter the mass production phase, whilst courses such as Draping reverses the process of traditional pattern drafting, thus allowing the fabric and form to guide the pattern drafting process. The courses offered in this comprehensive diploma cover a wide range of skills, from using a sewing machine in constructing different types of garments, to understanding how to use various software to include important details in the pattern drafts. Learn directly from industry professionals, in an inclusive and hands-on setting that will allow you to confidently apply these skills in your own fashion design journey.

You can check out our Diploma in Apparel Design and Product Development page to see the full breakdown of the diploma and to better understand how the various courses work in tandem to provide the most comprehensive fashion design education out there.  

3. Collaborative Spirit & Strong Communication Skills

The life and duties of a fashion designer is not limited to designing garments and working with mannequins. No, fashion designers are often expected to work in large teams with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that the whole process of bringing the collection to life runs smoothly. Even the most creative and skilled designer needs the help of an efficient and hardworking team, and having a strong collaborative spirit and communication skills that help you to relay feedback is essential to the production process.

Collaborative Spirit & Strong Communication Skills - Working with Teammates

Beyond just your design team, you’ll also need to work together with people such as sales executives to discuss upcoming designs, analyse market trends, and stay ahead of the game. Not to mention liaising with suppliers and buyers to ensure the quality of your products and the satisfaction of your customer base.

Remember, every team member has something to bring to the table. Your interpersonal and communication skills will go a long way in helping you solidify a presence in the fashion industry and making your colleagues feel appreciated. There is a wealth of information and wisdom to be learnt from your classmates and teachers in any course you take with, so savour every moment spent learning!

4. Creative Eye & Rigour

What makes your work stand out? Why should people want to wear your garments? Why should they remember your garments, in a world dominated by fast fashion and ever-changing trends? These are important questions to ask yourself in the design process. If you hope to make a name for yourself in the fashion industry, your designs and concepts must bring never-before-seen ideas, or reimagine previous trends and designs in a wholly unique and unforgettable way. Courses such as Intermediate Production Sketching and Virtual Prototyping give you the skills to bring these ideas and concepts to life, whilst Garment Construction gives you a better understanding of the technical specifications of designing garments and how to design clothing that is both unique and practical.

Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture (Conde Nast Archives)
Christian Dior Spring 1998 Couture (Conde Nast Archives)

Ultimately, the process is a long and arduous one, so it is essential that you maintain a sense of rigour throughout. It may seem straightforward enough, but don’t underestimate the value of perseverance and maintaining a high standard of work – such a seemingly obvious ingredient is often the key to producing high quality, show-stopping garments.

5. Networking, Business Acumen, & Social Media

You can think of this as a three-pronged approach: networking, business acumen, and a sharp eye for social media. All three elements come together to make you unstoppable. Networking is an incredibly important soft skill that is transferable across all industries, and it is just as important to utilise it to the fullest degree to leave a lasting impression on your peers and the fashion world. Whilst networking is invaluable in gaining cultural capital, developing business acumen increases your attention to detail and analytical skills underlying business decisions. Coupled together, networking and business acumen are what make successful brand collaborations and business deals.

As with social media, it is undeniable that in today’s extremely competitive fashion industry, being able to reach out to your target audience effectively is essential to establishing yourself as a brand. Remember your vision that drives your garment design, and structure your social media presence around it. Ultimately, your target audience will want to be immersed in the story you have to tell, through your social media accounts as well as your garments. Effective social media outreach, coupled with high-quality products, unique designs, and an unforgettable brand, are all markers of a successful and long-lasting career as a fashion designer.

Social Media is a vital component to be a successful fashion designer

These skills are often developed with time and experience, but can help you get started on the journey with courses such as Fashion Brand Management. Once you think you’re ready to better understand business skills in the fashion industry, you can look to our other range of courses outside of our diploma such as Social Media Marketing and E-Fashion Business.


5 Essential Skills for Fashion Designers

The road to becoming a successful fashion designer is rarely ever a straightforward one. This calling requires grit, creativity, and passion, but it also promises an exciting career full of possibilities. Whether you’ve always had your heart set on becoming a fashion designer, or you’re just discovering this career path, has just the diploma programme to help you kickstart your fashion design journey.

Curious about the programme? To understand more about our diploma and figure out if it’s a good fit for you, drop us a call at 6011 8066 or WhatsApp us to help you figure out the specifics!

Shanna Kaur

Hi, I am Shanna! I am a freelance copywriter for, who's currently a final year student at Yale-NUS College. I interned with as a Business Development Representative during my freshman summer, and afterwards, helped the marketing team create meaningful content for the company blog to better engage with our audience. I am a huge people person, and I love working towards engaging with all kinds of people. I am also a kopi bing siew dai enthusiast, and love playing ultimate frisbee or eating good food with friends!

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