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A person who wants to become a draper, which is a person who works with textiles, can pursue a number of different career paths, including apprenticeship and formal college education. Careers in this field are quite variable. Traditionally, drapers worked as fabric wholesalers and retailers. Today, they may also work as consultants in fashion and design studios, or as buyers for companies that work with textiles, like clothing and home design firms. This work requires excellent aesthetics, and it can be helpful to have skills like knowledge of a foreign language to work directly with overseas textile producers.
One option to become a draper is to attend formal training at a college or technical school with a textile or design program. The prospective draper will learn about different textiles, means of production, and related topics. Many schools provide internship opportunities for their students to give them a chance to work in environments like clothing design companies. The graduate will have work experience and a degree to use as qualifications when applying for jobs in the industry.
Another option is to start working directly in the textile industry to acquire on-the-job skills. While making a plan to become a draper, it is important to think about the specific area of interest, as this will determine the most appropriate job placement. Someone who wants to work as a fabric wholesaler, for example, should get a job with a wholesaling firm, while a person more interested in assisting with the selection of textiles in fashion should work for a fashion house. The job will provide training along with professional connections that can be useful in the future.
As a person works toward becoming a draper, she can start to develop more independence. She may be more capable of selecting or recommending textiles to an employer, for example. Employers may trust experienced employees with buying trips as well as negotiations with product partners like textile producers and wholesalers. As a draper develops more skills, she can use these in professional development and may be able to pursue careers with other companies or open up her own company to provide fabric consulting services.
A skilled draper can be in high demand. A person who plans to become a draper should be willing to work long hours at first to develop experience and skills. With more training, the draper can be more selective about hours and will have opportunities for travel to meet with suppliers, attend fashion and trade shows, and so forth. Drapers work with people like trend spotters, fashion designers, and textile engineers to deliver the most appropriate products to their clients and employers.