Fashion Designer Kaihoahoa Kākahu

Fashion designers design clothing and accessories.

Fashion designers may do all or some of the following:

  • create or update fashion designs
  • prepare drawings of the designs
  • adapt patterns to a new style or create new patterns
  • select and buy fabrics or have fabrics developed
  • estimate how much the work will cost
  • inspect the quality of garments
  • plan clothing production methods
  • market garments.

Physical Requirements

Fashion designers need to have normal colour vision and good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). 

Useful Experience

Useful experience for fashion designers includes:

  • sewing, fabric cutting or patternmaking experience
  • experience as a garment technician
  • fashion buying experience
  • clothing factory or workroom experience
  • draughting or computer-aided design (CAD).

Personal Qualities

Fashion designers need to be:

  • creative and imaginative
  • motivated and dedicated
  • organised
  • confident
  • adaptable
  • able to work well under pressure
  • accurate, with an eye for detail.


Clothing designers need to have knowledge of:

  • current clothing styles and trends
  • the history of fashion
  • design and drawing techniques
  • fabric types, colours and fabric care
  • sewing and tailoring techniques
  • garment construction and pattern-making techniques
  • different body shapes
  • computer-aided design (CAD) software.


Fashion designers:

  • may work long and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends
  • work in offices, workshops, factories or clothing shops
  • may travel to different factory sites and to local or overseas fashion shows.

Subject Recommendations

NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include design and visual communication (graphics), digital technologies, maths, processing technologies, and painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking combined.

Related Courses

Fashion Designers can earn around $47K-$50K per year.

Pay for fashion designers varies depending on skills and experience.

  • Junior fashion designers with up to three years' experience usually earn between $47,000 and $50,000 a year.
  • Intermediate fashion designers with four to six years' experience can earn between $50,000 and $75,000.
  • Senior fashion designers with more than seven years' experience or designers who work with large companies can earn between $75,000 and $160,000.

Self-employed fashion designers may earn less than this.

Source: New Zealand Fashion Tech 2017; Competenz, 2017.

Fashion designers may progress to set up their own design business or become design room managers or product developers. Product developers design a whole fashion range for a retailer or clothing manufacturer, or can design items such as paint ranges or car upholstery.

Fashion designers may specialise in a number of roles including:

CAD Operator
CAD (Computer Aided Design) operators or computer-aided designers create clothing using CAD software.
Costume Designer
Costume designers create clothing to be used in theatre, film and television productions.
Textile Designer
Textile designers use traditional and modern textile manufacturing and decoration processes to create textiles for clothing and furnishings.

Years Of Training

1-3 years of training usually required.

To be employed as a fashion designer you usually need to have a New Zealand Diploma in Fashion Technology (Level 5).

You may need a New Zealand Certificate in Fashion Technology (Level 3) and work experience to enrol for the diploma.

You may be able to learn through an apprenticeship in apparel.

Fashion Designer