Studying at Sewafrica is only a starting point. Graduation can unzip opportunities into the world of fashion.

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Clothing designers create ideas for clothing and other fashion items such as bags and belts. They usually specialise in one area of fashion.

Alternative Titles

  • Apparel Designer
  • Designer (Clothing)
  • Fashion Designer

Tasks & Duties

Clothing designers may do all or some of the following:

  • study fashion trends and the clothing market
  • identify target markets by looking at factors such as age, gender and socio-economic situation
  • create or update fashion designs
  • prepare drawings of the designs
  • adapt existing patterns to a new style or create new patterns
  • estimate how much the work will cost
  • select and buy fabrics
  • specify fabrics to be developed
  • test or oversee testing of fabrics in order to formulate care labels for garments
  • inspect the quality of garments
  • plan clothing production methods
  • cut fabric by hand or with electric hand-held cutting machines
  • market their garment range
  • run their own businesses.

Skills & Knowledge

Clothing designers need to have:

  • up-to-date knowledge of the latest clothing styles and trends
  • knowledge of the history of fashion
  • design and drawing skills
  • knowledge of fabric types, colours and fabric care
  • sewing skills and knowledge of tailoring techniques
  • knowledge of garment construction and pattern making skills
  • knowledge of human body shapes
  • knowledge of fabric cutting methods
  • computer skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • good communication skills
  • planning and organisational skills.

Clothing designers who run their own businesses also need to have accounting, business and marketing skills.

Personal Qualities

Clothing designers need to be:

  • creative and imaginative
  • dedicated and motivated
  • confident
  • patient
  • adaptable
  • able to make good judgments
  • able to work well under pressure, as they have to meet deadlines
  • accurate, with an eye for detail.

Physical Requirements

Clothing designers need to have a good sense of colour and good hand-eye co-ordination.

Entry Requirements

To become a clothing designer a certificate, diploma or degree course in clothing design is recommended.

Secondary Education

There are no specific secondary educational requirements to become a clothing designer, but a matric equivalent in maths, English, art, clothing and textiles is preferred. The SEWAFRICA course provides the foundation skills for design in the first year by providing practical application tuition in reading commercial patterns, pattern making, design and garment construction using domestic machines. Grade 11 allows immediate access, if a student has less than a grade 11 a student may be accepted on review of age and previous experience and school subjects and results. A student may progress through three years to obtain a City and Guilds Vocational Diploma

Training on the Job

Skills are gained on the job and training courses such as computer design are often provided. Trainees can also work towards a National Certificate in Clothing Manufacture.

Other requirements

Natural design ability and a portfolio of work are important when applying for a job in the clothing industry.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for clothing designers includes:

  • work in the clothing industry
  • fabric or fashion sales work
  • colour or design work
  • draughting.

Working Conditions

Clothing designers work in offices, workrooms, factories or clothing shops, which are quiet and well-lit. They work at drawing boards, cutting tables and sewing machines and may be on their feet for much of their working day. They may also travel to different factory sites and to local and overseas fashion shows.

Clothing designers' work can be stressful as they may work long hours to meet deadlines.


Equipment clothing designers may use includes:

  • pattern pieces and fabrics
  • cutting and sewing equipment such as a cutting machine, an industrial sewing machine and an overlocker
  • pattern making equipment including precise drawing and measuring instruments
  • a tracing wheel for making marks on fabric
  • a large workbench
  • pressing equipment
  • office equipment such as a phone and calculator
  • a computer.


Clothing designers work regular or long hours, including weekends and evenings. Certain times of the year may be extremely busy, especially when a seasonal clothing range is to be released.

Contact with People

Clothing designers work independently or with other clothing industry workers that they may supervise. They may also have contact with clients, fabric and trim suppliers, production managers, sewing machinists, clothing markers and cutters, and other clothing designers when selling work on their behalf.

Career Progression

Clothing designers may progress to running their own business.