Fashion design is the art of application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories. Fashion design is influenced by cultural and social attitudes, and has varied over time and place. Fashion designers work in a number of ways in designing clothing and accessories such as bracelets and necklace. Because of the time required to bring a garment onto the market, designers must at times anticipate changes to consumer tastes.
Designers conduct research on fashion trends and interpret them for their audience. Their specific designs are used by manufacturers. This is the essence of a designer’s role; however, there is variation within this that is determined by the buying and merchandising approach, and product quality; for example, budget retailers will use inexpensive fabrics to interpret trends, but high-end retailers will ensure that the best available fabrics are used.
Fashion designers attempt to design clothes which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn. They have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colors, patterns and styles to choose from. Though most clothing worn for everyday wear falls within a narrow range of conventional styles, unusual garments are usually sought for special occasions such as evening wear or party dresses.
Some clothes are made specifically for an individual, as in the case of haute couture or bespoke tailoring. Today, most clothing is designed for the mass market, especially casual and every-day wear are called ready to wear.
Fashion designers may work full-time for one fashion house, as 'in-house designers', which owns the designs. They may work alone or as part of a team. Freelance designers work for themselves, selling their designs to fashion houses, directly to shops, or to clothing manufacturers. The garments bear the buyer's label. Some fashion designers set up their own labels, under which their designs are marketed. Some fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. Other high-end fashion designers cater to specialty stores or high-end fashion department stores. These designers create original garments, as well as those that follow established fashion trends. Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, creating designs of men's, women's, and children's fashions for the mass market. Large designer brands which have a 'name' as their brand such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Justice, or Juicy are likely to be designed by a team of individual designers under the direction of a design director.
Fashion designers work in different ways. Some sketch their ideas on paper, while others drape fabric on a dress form. When a designer is completely satisfied with the fit of the toile (or muslin), he or she will consult a professional pattern maker who then makes the finished, working version of the pattern out of card or via a computerized system. Finally, a sample garment is made up and tested on a model to make sure it is an operational outfit.
Most American fashion houses are based in New York City, with a high concentration centered in the Garment District neighborhood. On the west coast, there are also a significant number of fashion houses in Los Angeles, where a substantial percentage of high fashion clothing manufactured in the United States is actually made. Beverly Hills, particularly on Rodeo Drive, is globally renowned for its fashion design and prestigious shopping. Burgeoning industries in Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and especially San Francisco have developed as well. A semi-annual event held every February and September, New York Fashion Week is one of four major fashion weeks held throughout the world. Parsons The New School for Design, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City, is considered as one of the top fashion schools in the world.
American fashion design is dominated by a clean-cut, urban, casual style; reflecting the athletic, health-conscious lifestyles of urban city-dwellers. A designer who helped to set the trend in the United States for sport-influenced day wear throughout the 1940s and 50s was Claire McCardell. Many of her designs have been revived in recent decades. Famous American brands and designers include Vera Wang, Bill Blass, Joseph Abboud, Calvin Klein, Bob Mackie, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Geoffrey Beene, Oleg Cassini, Perry Ellis, Kenneth Cole, James Galanos, Todd Oldham, Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne, and Nolan Miller.