A fashion designer sketches a new dress

Pros and Cons of Being a Fashion Designer

Fashion designers create clothing and accessories for people of all genders and ages. It can be an exciting career, especially if you love pouring over current fashion trends. But the fashion industry isn’t for everyone. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being a fashion designer.

Pro: You get to utilize your creative skills in a form you love.

Perhaps the most advertised benefit of being a fashion designer is that you get to utilize your creativity in a very singular way. Fashion designers must have either a thorough or unusual view of how colors can go together, what patterns can do for clothing, and how to come up with innovative and unusual things that trends to a broad audience. If you truly love coming up with designs for clothing and accessories, it’s hard to think of a better way to spend your days than by drawing up new ideas.

Con: You aren’t guaranteed to rocket to the top of the industry.

If you’re going into fashion designing to see your name on a label—or even having company named after you—you should be prepared to be disappointed. Very few people who go into the industry actually turn into fashion rock stars. This also means that you may not make millions like you might expect. You can, however, find very respectable positions working for companies that have been successful for a long time.

Pro: There’s a lot of flexibility in where and how you’d like to work.

Fashion is a worldwide phenomenon, with no end in sight. If you want to pack up and go look for work in Italy, you can. If you want to stay at home and send designs out to companies, you can. One of the great things about being a fashion designer is that you don’t have to work for a company. You can also be a freelance designer, working ultimately for yourself. You also have the option to work for apparel companies or for firms who create designs.

Con: Finding a job in such a competitive field can be brutal.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate of fashion designers is expected to grow only very moderately over the next 10 years, by about 3%. This means that in your job search, you’re fighting hundreds of other applicants for every position that opens up. To be successful—or even find a job, for that matter—you have to have something really special. You also have to be prepared to work hard and to be ready to sell yourself to a company.

Pro: Your work can influence a whole industry—or even a whole culture.

If you have the “it” so necessary to this kind of industry, and you work hard and know the right people, your designs will eventually wind up being sold in stores and worn around town. If the stars really align, you very well could become one of the top names in the industry. Some fashion designers (think Coco Chanel) have become famous and are envied by everyone around them. You could ultimately create a fashion revolution—just don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

Con: Working for yourself can bring inconsistent pay; working for a company can bring long hours.

Working as a freelance designer, particularly if you can’t find a steady position, may seem intriguing, but it’s hard. You aren’t guaranteed work, which means you aren’t guaranteed money. On the other hand, working for a company can mean spending a lot of years working in low level positions. You may find yourself spending grueling hours at the office, trying to meet deadlines, or simply trying to get noticed.