How Do I Become a Knitwear Designer?

Marty Paule

To become a knitwear designer first and foremost requires an abiding passion where fashion is concerned. While many people think of fashion designers as a rare breed who are exclusively employed by the leading haute couture fashion houses, in reality, every apparel manufacturer depends on designers to create their products. There are a number of roles that fall within the realm of the knitwear fashion designer. Aside from gaining real-world experience as an amateur designer, there are both formal and informal educational opportunities available that can equip you to become a knitwear designer.

A knnitwear designer should be able to create quick sketches.
A knnitwear designer should be able to create quick sketches.

If fashion is a major interest and you have been sketching, designing, cutting, and sewing clothing since childhood, it's quite likely that you can succeed in this field. Some clothing designers create their own fashion lines — designers such as Coco Chanel and Calvin Klein have become personally associated with their apparel's brand. Many more designers work anonymously for manufacturers who make ready-to-wear fashions. In either case, there are basic skills and knowledge you will need in order to become a knitwear designer.

Having an extensive knowledge of fabrics, notions, sewing techniques, and apparel manufacturing technology will ready you to compete in the fashion designer field. The ability to create quick sketches and designs by draping fabric on a fit model or mannequin are essential. Creating flat patterns is also a critical skill. Creating various sizes from a first pattern is called grading, and, although some apparel makers employ graders, the successful fashion designer will have at least basic grading knowledge.

To become a knitwear designer today usually requires some knowledge of Computer Assisted Design (CAD) and Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAM). The job also often calls for some skills with drawing programs. People involved in knitwear design fall into several job categories. Those for whom formal training programs are available include creative, textile, and technical designers. Cutters and pattern makers often are hired as trainees or are promoted to those positions and receive on-the-job training. Vocational schools situated close to apparel design and manufacturing centers sometimes offer training in these specialties.

In order to become a knitwear designer in one of the prestigious fashion houses, obtaining a fine arts degree in fashion from a recognized school can open the door to the best jobs. Applying to these schools usually entails submitting examples of your work. Since the fashion sketches you submit are an important part of the admissions process, take drawing classes if your sketches need improvement. In considering candidates, fashion design schools weigh the commitment and enthusiasm the applicant demonstrates. Keep a portfolio of the work you are most proud of and use that to impress the admissions officers at the schools to which you apply.

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