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May 13, 2014

What is a Fashion Designer and Do You Consider Yourself One?



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?

Jump in!

62 comments:

  1. NOpe - not a fashion designer. I design individual pieces for myself or for clients sometimes, but I do claim the term "collaborative designer", because I will bring the technical skill to make a vision a reality. It is the word "fashion" that I don't claim.

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    1. I agree with Mimi Jackson’s use of collaborative designer with the word fashion removed. This works for me too. I would like to have a shorter title to use also that says more than sewing.
      Agree with Mame when she says “saying we are just sewers is really limiting the creative genius that we all are and almost talking our talent down.”
      We are selling ourselves short. Every garment making project has 5 phases to successful completion: innovative design, technical design (customization), engineering the construction, cutting and sewing, and alterations/pattern adjustment. Even if a commercial pattern is used to cover most of the design work, the person in charge of the project is responsible for all phases. If we do these things we should say so, otherwise how can we expect to receive acknowledgement, recognition or pay for them? Others will not understand us unless we tell them. If you were a carpenter would you call yourself a hammerer, or a nailer, or a sawer?
      I honestly think lack of vocabulary is holding us back. The same is true for naming our industry. Sewing hobbyists were home sewers and part of the home sewing industry (again no acknowledgement of design), but I don’t think that is in use anymore. Times have changed and our language is lagging behind. The Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PACC) changed its name to the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP). That seems to be working. It would be nice if we had an industry name that included the sewing and design professionals and the sewing and design hobbyists under one umbrella.
      Agree with Ali who says “I am a sewer who loves style! A sewstyler?!” How about trying out your new title. I like it!
      Does Sewstylist or sewstyler have promise for as a title for others?
      What about fashioner? See, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fashioner
      fash•ion•er; [fash-uh-ner]; noun; 1. a person who fashions, forms, or gives shape to anything.; 2. a tailor or modiste.
      I was playing around with fashioner, fashioning and fashioned today on my JSM Tailoring Tools Facebook page and it seemed to serve the purpose. Just a thought.
      I think I will go ahead and share this discussion on my JSM Tailoring Tools business page and I invite you all to come see. Thank you, Peter. This discussion is a good one!

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    2. Great comment, Joyce. A lot to think about!

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    3. Confession time: I didn't come at this topic cold. My first published article for PACC News (1993) was called "Are You the Designer?" because I had learned the hard way that you can't ignore design in a custom clothing business and get away with it. I had learned how to sew first and design second. I called this "design by the back door."
      I've been quiet for awhile and just now speaking out again as I re-invent JSM Tailoring Tools and make a conscious effort to become more involved with the online community.
      Thanks for holding out your hand through this blog post to help me back up on my soap box!
      I googled the right words last night to find you Peter and to find my friend Mimi Jackson. I see I have a ton of reading to do to catch up! You are one busy man!!!

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  2. That's tough... I think it's about the difference between "clothing" and "fashion". I may design some of the clothing that I make for myself, but I wouldn't call it "fashion," maybe because I'm the only one who's likely ever to wear it. So no, "fashion designer" isn't something I'd like to be called. "Designer" by itself, maybe.

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    1. Anon has summed it nicely for me (thanks).

      I make design and make CLOTHES for a very limited clientele (myself and my husband). For me, the term FASHION designer has much broader connotations.

      Spud.

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    2. This is what the Australian Government's Department of Education says a fashion designer is:

      "Fashion designers plan and develop new clothing and accessories styles by creating original designs or by adapting fashions to suit local conditions and trends."

      Spud.

      Delete
  3. Interesting topic! Generally designers don't like sewing but the majority of fashion designers can sew, it's usually a requirement of their training/course as they need to know how to construct clothing in order to provide technical drawings to pattern cutters and sewing instructions to sample machinists.

    I never really know what to refer to myself as but I once seen some say they were a garment artist which is different way of saying fashion designer!

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    1. Garment artist? That sounds like someone who tie-dyes men's underwear. LOL

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    2. Ha! Love it! It goes with my theory that they were creating hippy clothes

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  4. Well, I didn't before — but now I do! OK, just kidding. I do create flat patterns from scratch (and also use commercial patterns) but most of the time no one is paying me to do it, so I think of myself as a hobby designer at most. I would feel like I was putting on airs if I said I was a designer.

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    1. I think that's because you're Canadian. ;)

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  5. Nope -- not a fashion designer. If I had to have a title, I would probably be a 'premier main' -- I can look at a design and figure out what needs to be done, drape or draft it out and construct it, but it's best to leave the design to someone else. If I remember correctly, Balenciaga is reputedly the only one of the great designers who could actually make an entire dress from start to finish.

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  6. I refer to myself as a 'historical costumer', which causes some kerfuffle because some people don't like the word costume. But, I'm a very new sewer. I'm more likely to be wearing some crazy 18th century butterfly get up and some will ask, "can you sew me a men's shirt". I have to say, 'well not really, I can design, but I'm not really a tailor"

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    1. I also use the term "historic costumer," and EVERY SINGLE TIME the follow up question is "do you work for a theater?" No, I don't, I sew as a hobby and I make historic garments as a way to delve into the past.

      Many folks just can't seem to compute sewing for yourself, for the fun of it, for the personal reward, and not for pay, whether historic or modern.

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  7. My brother thinks that because I can sew a little, it makes me able to design costumes for comic con and stuff from scratch and nothing I say can convince him otherwise. Yes, I can take a pattern and make some basic adjustments. Yes, I know my way around a sewing machine. But this does NOT mean that I can make something from scratch without the aid of commercial patterns. This does NOT mean I'm any kind of designer. I'm a hobbyist. I like sewing and I'm fairly good at it, but that doesn't make me any kind of a professional. I can lengthen, shorten, make something a titch wider, and even change the shape of a collar. I've learned I can often swap pattern pieces around from different patterns to get the desired result. But I'm not a designer or even a seamstress and I don't claim to be anything but someone who sews for fun...

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  8. I'm a landscape designer. Any person who can construct/deconstruct/conceive/combine/*fashion* a discrete (self-contained) object either in sum or in part, concrete or abstract, is engaging in the process of design. Applying basic principles of design (proportion, color, texture, season, maintenance, utility, etc.) in one field is more or less consistent with another, i.e. landscaping and fashion. And as a beginning tailor who cannot sew a shirt or dress to save his life, I still consider myself a theoretical fashion designer of sorts, i.e. I critique, refashion, repurpose, etc. in my head. Perhaps this isn't what you meant, Peter, but I've never thought of Design as rarefied (not that that is what you meant, either); rather, each time we select an outfit from our wardrobes, we are in a way fashion designers.

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  9. Hmm great topic, I actually do consider myself a designer but maybe it’s just because I studied graphic design. A couple years ago I wouldn’t have considered myself a fashion designer, especially when I was just learning to alter or pattern draft but I definitely do now. I think the definition of a fashion designer is really limited because we think that it only applies to persons whom sketch, create a line and are big names, but when we transform an idea in our head to a physical manifestation we are designing an object (at least that’s what my kinetic typography teacher taught me) and can be considered a designer. I consider myself a wearable/fashion designer because not only do I sew, but I alter, draft, dye, acid etch and create wearable art. I have also just taken up shoe making and am forcing myself to return to my knitting roots. I think a designer should be someone who takes nothing and turns it into something and that’s what we sewers do and I think by just saying we are just sewers is really limiting the creative genius that we all are and almost talking our talent down. That’s just my two cents.

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  10. Marge Piercy once wrote "A real writer is one who really writes." So, if you are designing and sewing something fashionable to wear, making alterations from commercial, putting patterns together, updating looks... I think that makes you a fashion designer.

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  11. I wonder if we don't have a rather skewed idea of what a fashion designer is because of all that happened to fashion in the last 100 years or so. While what people wear has always changed and developed, and while the idea of fashion has existed for a couple of centuries, it's really, I think, only at the end of the 19th century that anyone paid all that much attention to the people who actually made the clothes that (rich/aristocratic/cultured) people wore - the emergence of the House of Worth, for example.

    Then, around and after World War I, women's clothes change more quickly and more drastically than could have been imagined in, say, 1894 (the only comparison that springs to mind is the sudden move from eighteenth-century court dresses to light Muslin Regency frocks after the turn of the 19th century). Suddenly, not only were women wearing things completely differents than before (no corsets, short skirts, sheath dresses, etc.), some of those clothes could be either commercially publicized and even mass produced.

    Enter the designer - Poiret, Mmes. Gres, and others, who then paved the way for Chanel and Schiaparelli and Dior, whom we now think of innovators and artists.

    But now, all these years later, we've not seen any kind of wholesale shift in style, no completely different direction (what was the last one, do you suppose? Pants for women? Miniskirts?). A women today could wear at least some of the work of any designer in the last hundred years and not look out of place. As you note, a designer today is mostly riffing on what's been done, or self-consciously creating purposely outré shapes in the hope of looking avant garde.

    Maybe a designer now is a technician; maybe a designer is a creation of publicity (and a perfume salesperson and licensing agent). Who knows?

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    1. I couldn't agree more. These days, what exactly is fashion and who can truly claim to be a designer? There is so much corporate money controlling the fashion houses and demanding clothes that can be mass marketed, factory produced, and sold everywhere, that fashion (and especially designers) have suffered enormously, as has film where directors have been reduced to pleasing the corporate accountants for the most part.

      By current standards, even I could be called something of a designer as I tweak pre-existing designs. I'm hoping the innovators, esp people like the marvellous Schiaparelli haven't given up on fashion.

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  12. Going off what I know of theatre, it is important that a designer know how to sew so they can direct those working for them how best to construct something. However, they need to keep their effort and time for all the creative work of designing so they are less involved in the actual construction. They might play with a draped bit or pin the placement of an embellishment though.

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  13. I refer to myself as artist designer maker teacher, often just artist teacher. As it sums up what I do professionally and personally.

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  14. I usually call myself a sewist. Someone who sews. If I'm being sassy: A sewasaurus. If I have created from scratch what I'm wearing (or a client is wearing) THEN I call myself a fashion designer.

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  15. I think the line is kind of blurred a bit - I see people with things that they've sewn from a commercial pattern with no changes (no combining of patterns, either) and they sell them with the label of _____ Designs. Their justification for this is that they chose the fabric and embellishments. Any person can do that and that doesn't meant that they do it well. That's just embellishing and sewing. I think that anyone who is able to adjust or change a commercial pattern, or combine two or more to get a new look can probably call themselves a designer because that takes more vision than matching fabric to project.

    I don't call myself a designer because I do a lot of straightforward sewing at the moment; experimenting takes more time than I currently can afford to devote to it. If I had the time (or a housekeeper, nanny and chauffeur) I'd be doing the latter and then maybe I could call myself a designer. Except I wouldn't because I haven't been to school for fashion and I don't feel I'm on the same level as someone who has. I still have far too much to learn.

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  16. This JUST happened to me in a grocery store! The cashier insisted that I must become a fashion designer bc he loved my shirt so much. Plus I think it was unbelievable to him that someone he randomly met seww clothes for themselves "just because". I could never call myself a "fashion designer" unless I designed clothes/patterns with more than just my body in mind, I think. I am a sewer who loves style! A sewstyler?!

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    1. Ali, the more I think about the title "sew-styler" the more I like it. I've decided to try it out for my own purposes with a hyphen in it, just for fun. I hope you don't mind. I was toying with "sew-stylist" as a title or the word "fashioner" but I think I like "sew-styler" best.
      Thanks for sharing your new word!
      If you get back to me through my JSM Tailoring Tools web site or Facebook page or reply here, I'll let you know how my experiment goes.
      Happy sew-styling!

      Delete
  17. Back in my childhood in the fifties I considered myself a fashion designer when I drew, colored an cut out clothes for my Doris Day paper dolls. I used to fantasize about being a fashion designer. I just do the same with big pieces of fabric now.

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  18. I consider my self an inspired sewist. I've taken both graphic design and fashion merchandising and can see how easy it might be for some one else to peg me with the label designer or even seamstress but if I am anything it maybe artist. I take my medium, which is fabric, along with my idea, create a pattern and turn it into something wearable. Most people do not do that any more. I think most people when they hear the term fashion designer they think of the big haute couture houses. They have little idea that even the labels sold at there local discounter have a design team.

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  19. In my dreams I am a fashion designer, rock star and Iron Chef. My lack of professional level talent doesn't stop me from trying to be all these things though my family probably wish I would give up on the rock star dreams....

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  20. I have a degree in fashion design. i sew and can draft my own patterns, bth uhhwith flat and draping technique. i would not call myself a fashion designer a

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  21. I do sew professionally. I refer to myself as seamstress/tailor depending on the task at hand. I tend to call myself a stitcher when doing theatrical union gigs. All this self-nomenclature gets dizzying but I really can't stomach the word "sewist". Just my 2c.

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  22. Maybe its just me, but it feels like now days every other person is calling themselves "fashion designer". Or maybe it's because in my country it feels like that.
    Even thou I draft some of my clothing patterns based on my own sketch I would never ever call myself a designer.
    Seamstress.... no no. I do have have a degree in menswear tailoring but I don't even call myself a tailor... Artisan maybe?
    But I will refuse to be called a home sewer.

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  23. With a few exceptions, I think most popular designers today are just "stylists". They have a staff that executes everything, I like Mimi's observation about being collaborative designer. When I use a pattern, choose the fabric and trimmings I am being creative too. I didn't design it, but I am putting my spin on it. I want to have a good time doing it. There is no shame in that.

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  24. I quite like the word "dressmaker". To me it encompasses the various disciplines involved in making most types of women's wear, from fabric selection to drafting or refining a design to fitting to cutting to sewing and embellishing. Because I like all the parts of the making (not just the design or the sewing), dressmaker feels like it refers to the whole activity in a way that the other terms do not. Tailor is similarly inclusive, but that's a type of garment that I make less of.

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  25. On the one hand "fashion designer" feels like a rather pretentious label, at least in part because of the mental connection it makes to major fashion houses. The connection it has to reality TV doesn't make me respect it more, in fact, I'd almost have to wonder if average home sewers started to insist they be referred to as "fashion designers", whether that might be an expression of insecurity, searching for external validation by self-identifying with a popular group.

    On the other hand it almost doesn't seem to be encompassing enough of a description for what some who sew at home are actually doing as far as fitting or techniques they are using to execute the item they are making. Good design is only a part of what it takes to make a successful garment.

    For myself, I'm comfortable with using the term "seamstress", though I can see why it hasn't caught on universally, not having a good male equivalent.

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  26. As a home sewist we SHOULD consider ourselves as fashion designers because, well... that's what we are! The difference is, I'm not famous.

    So, next time someone asks if you are a fashion designer say, "Why yes, I am! Although, my talents haven't been discovered yet." ;o)

    Or, we should refer to ourselves as "personal fashion designers." I kinda like that.

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    1. Some home sewers (or "sewists") may be quite skilled and have great ideas. That does not make them designers. Not claiming to be professionals -- a whole different level of exposure and pressures -- doesn't take anything away from home sewers.

      I don't understand the need for Americans (it's usually Americans) to inflate what they do and dilute what real professionals do.

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  27. I have a degree in fashion design, make my own patterns, and even create custom textiles when I can't find what I want in stores...still, I don't consider myself a fashion designer. What I do is more broad and individual than that. I call myself a "fiber artist." When hired to do a job, I then become a "custom seamstress."

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  28. I think in my mind - I've put fashion designers on a pedestal. Defining them myself they are individuals that look at the ordinary and can see the potential in making that ordinary "special". Whether that ordinary item be fabric, or a pattern.

    I define myself as a home sewist attempting to make garments that make me feel special. The goals are the same right? I don't consider myself nearly as creative as a fashion designer ... but maybe I am?

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  29. I sew for myself, I wouldn't call that a designer even though it requires decision making (which is design in the common sense). Getting dressed in the morning also requires that. The definition of designer is creator of consumer goods and I don't think the sole consumer can be the creator, that's just pretentious. Choosing what to wear or how to arrange one's own home is just what we all do by nature to varying degrees. Doing the same thing for others is design. It is a profession because it involves managing multiple disciplines and presenting a collective vision it doesn't necessarily require personal mastery of all the steps e.g. sewing/drafting. I don't think this at all diminishes what I do, I enjoy all aspects of sewing for myself while I'm sure every designer has at least some task which they only stomach because they are paid (e.g. posing for smarmy publicity shots???).

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    1. I think sourcing fabric and arguing with companies (many overseas) over production deadlines would be high up on the list of unpleasant tasks. It does not appear to be a glamorous job.

      So much of fashion is smoke and mirrors. How many high profile designers have financial problems?

      Many fashion designers are superficial and uninterested in anything else other than fashion.

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  30. I wouldn't refer to myself as a fashion designer. I don't usually make my own patterns and I don't do this professionally. Plus, I think there's a connotation that fashion designers create cohesive collections, which is definitely not something I do.

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  31. ok, this is OT, but that still of the woman in the red dress. Where is that from?? I want that blue dress of the woman standing behind her!

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    1. It's from the film "Designing Women" and I believe the blue dress is Lauren Bacall. You'll have to ask Lauren for it. ;)

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  32. I can vouch for the fact that just about everyone who comments on one of Peter's creations — always favorably! — goes on to ask if he's a designer, or says something that indicates that they've made that assumption.

    I wonder if women sewists experience this as much as their male counterparts. After all, we still suffer from the societal bias that females of our species are expected to cook and sew and males aren't. When a man does display these talents, people tend to assume it's a professional pursuit, i.e., he must be a chef or a fashion designer.

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  33. A "seamstress" is a person who sews pieces on an assembly line or a contract basis. It's a low-status job. I don't understand people who try to "reclaim" "seamstress."

    To me, a fashion designer is an individual with a vision of how to dress and live and is able to translate it into clothing and home products. He or she may not be able to do everything, like Ralph Rucci (Chanel didn't know how to make patterns, Donna Karan reputedly did poorly in Draping at Parsons), but is able to communicate a vision to someone who can draft, drape, and sew. A commercially successful fashion designer also possesses excellent business instincts or has a strong business team.

    I don't consider myself a fashion designer. I have no desire to dress the world or create needs that don't exist based on constantly, arbitrarily changing whims. My sole interest is in sewing beautiful clothes that fit me and my lifestyle.

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  34. Oh, brilliant as always! I definitely just consider myself a home sewer, since even when I put effort into "designing" something or drafting a garment, it's just for me or my daughter.

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  35. I don't recall ever being asked if I am a fashion designer. I've heard, "You can sew?!" I think of fashion designer as a generic name like Kleenex or Clorox. A kind of catch all.

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  36. One way to look at the issue is to as "when is a fashion designer not a designer even though your name is on the label"? Celebrity "designer" with that famous, and commercially recognizable name who decides to start a clothing line with that infamous name, you are not a designer. The real designer is that person who has probably gone to a technically oriented trade school or university who actually studied flat pattern making, draping, construction, art and costume history, graduated then labored in low salaried positions learning the craft of apparel design. That is a real designer, someone who can take a fuzzy idea from a celebrity's usually vapid brain and create a viable garment.

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  37. Some years ago, I spent some time working in the fashion industry as an Assistant Stylist (with no experience whatsoever -- that should tell us something). I hated it. This is (was) a company whose name many of you have undoubtedly heard.

    Briefly, their business model was as follows: 1) Go on buying trips to NYC, Asia, and Europe and purchase clothing to be knocked off; 2) Have endless meetings re. seasonal fabrics based upon researched trends; 3) Requisition swatches from suppliers in Asia; 4) Have endless meetings re. selecting which purchased designs are to be knocked off and manufactured; 5) More endless meetings re. how to alter these designs just enough to avoid lawsuits and improve the bottom line; 6) Create style sheets with specs for mock-ups, faxed (yes this was years ago) to Asian producers for one-offs; 7) Samples are sent back and inspected in the offices, then have endless meetings re. what changes to make, difficulties in manufacture, availability of materials, etc.; 8) Endless meetings with the marketing and sales teams re. how to present the lines (young men, juniors, menswear, womenswear, kids); 9) Inspect initial production and make last minute changes (in endless meetings); 10) Go into full sales mode, etc.

    I'm leaving out many smaller steps, but you get the idea. None of this required knowing how to sew a single stitch -- that was all for some factory floor hand in Asia to do and even she/he was operating large machinery in order to take advantage of economies of scale, not sitting at a sewing machine.

    I'm not against corporate fashion nor corporate profit. It affords me clothing of usually high quality for the price paid, allowing me to spend my money on other things, raising my overall standard of living. But I suspect that what I've described above describes much of what is called 'fashion design'.

    In its crass, self-promoting, and grim way, I think this is one of the reasons why 'Project Runway' is such a phenomenon: the show taps into the idea of an actual individual designer faced with parameters and having to produce a garment. I've watched the show occasionally and once in a while arguments arise between those who are better designers and those who are able to sew. Sometimes the judges award better execution, sometimes better design. The whole thing is pretty messy but it underlines the debate as to the differences between talent and technical skill.

    Sorry for the length. As Pascal wrote so many years ago about an un-edited letter to a friend: "I wrote a long one because I had not the time to write a short one."

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    1. Amen to everything you said above Mouse! Is there really any original, creative designs in mass produced apparel? My story is when I was a pattern maker for a jacket company. There was a strange and superfluous design detail that I didn't understand and asked the asst. designer about. She replied "that's what Nautica is doing," and of course, that's the way we have to do it! And I hope everyone that sews for fun or profit reads your comments, because that is exactly the way the industry works. Thanx for sharing your story so vividly!

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  38. Okay so yes, I do call myself a fashion designer. But it is with good reason. I went to school for Apparel Design and work for a company doing mostly Technical Design as well as the creative fashion design stuff. Even personal design wise I still consider myself a designer as long as I have drafted from scratch or manipulated a store bought pattern enough that it is no longer recognizable as the original. If I just sew a pattern as is I do not consider it designing, it is simply sewing.

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  39. I sometimes get the fashion designer question, but it also happens the other way round: People who apparently decide that, because I sew well and know about fit, I'm a seamstress, not a designer. I wouldn't call myself a designer, but the assumption annoys me nevertheless. It's like saying "you can stitch it up but you don't have a vision"....
    I design what I make, I draft my own patterns and I sew my own clothes. I don't make money for any of those things (I sew professionally, but that's just making alterations to wedding dresses so that has nothing to do with the designer debate) so I couldn't possibly claim I do them professionally.
    I'm not a designer, but I don't want to be described as "just a seamstress" (other people's words, not mine) either. Maybe, in this day and age, we need some new words.

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  40. I would have to agree with you about the need for new words. Any suggestions? I have heard people using the phrase sewest, but that just seems awkward to me.

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  41. I draft the patterns that I make up (or have made up) for individual clients. I sketch, drape and choose fabric and trims, and this is my profession. I refer to myself as a dressmaker. "Fashion Designer" seems pretentious to me but I no longer correct people who use the term,

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  42. Great wonderful critical thinking blog piece about the differences between sewer and fashion designer (including some of the business aspects) -- another fantastic discussion.

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  43. Dressmaker doesn't cut it for the guys that sew, fashion designer seems pretentious, how about personal style artist (or designer). Otherwise I don't mind sewist. Strange there isn't a more descriptive term for what we love to do...

    Sew Stylish

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  44. When a middle-aged woman tells people she made something, she doesn't get asked "are you a designer," she gets blank stares. Ditto for mentioning that she's a sewing blogger. So now I tell people I'm working on a book, and it makes them very excited. Maybe someday I'll actually get around to it.

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  45. Love this post! I consider myself a fashion designer. I do because I have self taught myself everything, make all my own designs from scratch, which is difficult to do and also have learned and paid money to perfect my skills The University of Fashion's website (which is a blessing to anyone who wants to learn real fashion designing by the way, but doesn't want to attend 4 years of school ). I have full intentions to create a line one day in the future. Yes, it is a dream for me and one that I am working hard on achieving. If you know how to make your own patterns based off your own ideas in your head, and can construct it to bring to life a beautiful high fashion garment, than it is silly to consider yourself anything less. Someone who sews for fun or from store bought patterns is really just sewing and doing a follow along by directions, or even perhaps a sewist if it is something they are doing a lot of and spend a lot of time doing it well for themselves or others. I think that many people get confused as to what to call themselves because they don't really understand fashion designing because it is a lot more than just sewing or knowing how to sew and then there are people who have magic fingers and can alter and really tailor extremely well. Fashion designers really don't want to tailor people's clothing because they are too busy in the creative process of designing. All in all, sewing well is an art and you are either good at it or you aren't. You either want to learn how to design because you are tired of buying boring patterns or you fix people's clothing and tailor because you enjoy getting the perfect fit. I just feel that you are either a designer, sewist, tailor, or someone who sews for fun and makes clothing for family and their kids or friends. I think that is simple and sums it all up. This is a topic that is really great to discuss because everyone feels so weird to call themselves a fashion designer just because they aren't on Project Runway or showing at Fashion Week.

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