If you sew -- and I'm assuming you do -- you've probably experienced the following:
You're out in public wearing something you made and somebody asks you where you got it. You explain that you made it. This person immediately asks "Are you a fashion (or clothing) designer?"
I don't know if it's because fewer people sew nowadays, or because of all the media attention fashion gets via reality shows like Project Runway and televised, high-profile red carpet events, but it seems a lot of people assume that if you can sew, you can -- or should -- be a fashion designer. And maybe you do indeed consider yourself one.
But what is a fashion designer?
Usually when we add "er" to the end of a verb, it connotes that somebody is doing something professionally. For example, we all can write, but calling yourself a writer suggests a lot more than penning interoffice memos and sympathy cards. Most of us can sing, but a singer would be Mariah Carey, not me in my shower. (And even if a singer can't even sing very well, if they make their living singing -- or lipsynching to something they once sang -- we call them singers.)
Same goes with painters, dancers, sculptors, jewelers, etc.
Oddly enough, this isn't true of sewers. Sewer usually means home sewer. Seamstress sounds more professional, but who calls themselves a seamstress anymore? Tailor definitely suggests a professional: have you ever heard anyone refer to themselves as a home tailor?
So what is a fashion designer? Is it someone who creates stylish clothing from scratch? Must a fashion designer know how to sew, or draft, or drape, or can they just make a sketch (or hire a sketch artist) and leave it to somebody else to do the rest? A lot of fashion designers with mega-brand names probably couldn't sew a shirt or a dress if their life depended on it.
Most menswear (and a lot of womens wear) you see in stores is the same stuff -- shirts, pants, suits -- you've seen for decades, with only minor changes: looser or tighter fit, wider collar, different choice of fabrics, etc. Few and far between are the designers like Issey Miyake, who are creating something fresh, and even they often offer more commercial fashion lines selling mainly the tried-and-true. There isn't a huge market for unique visions and it's very expensive -- and creatively challenging -- to make everything from scratch.
|Issey Miyake -- s/s 2014|
So even if you're not drafting your own patterns, if you're sewing, you're likely choosing the fabric, making fit and/or style adjustments, even combining your commercial pattern with other patterns to create something that's your own. Isn't that more designing than many designers do?
In closing, readers, what do you think? Do you consider yourself a fashion designer?
If you know how to draft flat patterns or drape, does that make a difference in how you define yourself, or doesn't it even matter?
What is a fashion designer nowadays?