What is a fashion designer?

Jason Hargrove/Flickr
Jason Hargrove/Flickr

Think a career as a fashion designer is all about glamour? Think again! Being a designer is a highly demanding, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job. As a designer, you have your hands in every step, from sketching the designs, overseeing pattern making, choosing fabric, buttons and trim, and managing the production process. Designers are also involved in directing fashion shows, as well as advertising and marketing campaigns, and working with models, stylists, makeup artists, hairdressers, photographers and event planners to execute their vision and build their brand personality.


“If you’re interested in being a fashion designer, interning, even if you don’t get paid, is a wonderful way to get started. And it will pay off. Potential employers respect the fact that you have interned – you have not only gained experience, but you have also indicted your commitment by investing in yourself.”
– Robin Kay, President, Fashion Design Council of Canada
  • Positions in apparel manufacturing including design, production or marketing
  • Costume designer for film, theatre or television
  • Entrepreneur with fashion design company
  • Accessories (footwear, jewelry, etc.) designer
  • Wardrobe consulting
  • Curatorial/conservation work


You’ll probably start out as a fashion assistant in the design departments of an established label. With talent and a soupcon of luck, you can work your way up to lead designer – or open your own design house.


Like many professions, salaries for Fashion Designers depend largely on what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. If you design for an international label, or create your own coveted label, you can make a super-status salary. But the average Fashion Designer earns a more modest living. PayScale.com reports that the median salary range for Fashion Design is from $37,082 to $57,324. This range reflects all people working in Canada – chances are, people working in major urban centres will make slightly more.


“What you’re born with is a gift and it unites over colours, patterns, skirt lengths and vibe. To be a fashion designer is how that gift is used.”
– Robin Kay
  • In love with fashion
  • Creative and artistic
  • Focused
  • Dedicated
  • Able to thrive in a high-pressure environment
  • Multi-taskers
  • Team players
  • Business oriented
  • Thick-skinned
  • Self-starters
  • Good communicators

Meet Lucian Matis – Fashion Designer

Lucian Matis
Lucian Matis, Project Runway Canada celeb and fashion darling, grew up in his mother’s tailor shop in Romania and began designing at an early age – his first clients were his teachers. Matis moved to Toronto in 1999, studied fashion design at Ryerson University, and started in his own company in 2007. His talent has been recognized by some of Canada’s most prestigious awards including The Fur Council of Canada Award, Le Chateau’s Menswear Competition Award, and the Alfred Sung Award for Great Design Talent.

Published on October 11, 2012
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