Hi. My name is KIKA, I’m 22 years old, A student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and I am a Fashion Designer. For the past few years, I have experienced the discipline and found the motivation to better my skills to start my own brand. At a young age, I would find myself doodling clothes and designing garments for the characters in my comic books. I would day dream about dresses during school and rush home to draw until my hands became numb. Visually, I knew what I wanted to design, but I knew nothing about execution, cut or how any garments were made. Much until my teen years I was taught how to sew at the High School of Fashion Industries. Getting a jump start in my education toward design was the best decision I ever made. Some people learn how to sew at an early age, but unlike me I had to get started on the fundamentals of sewing and design in order to do well in school. I learned the basic rules of draping, making patterns, and sewing. I also had one of my garments featured at the School’s Yearly Fashion Show. I felt like I was prepared to start making garments on my own, but I needed to further my education to really learn the complicated tricks to make knockout garments. Going to FIT for the first time, I was egotistical because I thought I knew everything about constructing clothes and design. As we all know, if you act like you know everything you won’t go too far in life. I noticed a few weeks into the semester, I received mediocre grades and I started to feel uneasy and lacked confidence in myself as a student. The system was different and students had to be more resourceful in learning all the basic techniques. A few weeks later, I started to listen to my Professors word of advice as well as some students who were happy to help from time to time. I had moments where I had to figure things out on my own and I couldn’t rely on others. It was a vulnerable time, but I gained a lot of character: I was pushed off my high horse and learned how to become more responsible and humble. Despite my ups and downs, I graduated with a high GPA and walked home with a gorgeous portfolio. In terms of Fashion School, there is twice the amount of effort put in because you take more classes and your responsibilities rely on completing multiple projects in a timely manner in a stressful environment. It’s all about committing to making your homework and projects worth your while. There should never be a missed opportunity to make something beautiful yet wearable for your portfolio: Even design a collection to can make for a fashion show in the future. It was definitely the most crucial learning experience I have ever endured. In the end, you go to school for yourself and not to impress others. Every student is there to learn the same lessons as you and it’s necessary to take in all the knowledge and apply that to your projects.
In all aspects, I support designers who earn their degrees before pursuing their goals, but the role of an internship for an upcoming designer is necessary to bring an outlook on how companies work. When I was in High School, I did a summer internship for Master Corset Couturier, Maggie Norris. It was my first insight on how a real fashion house functioned. There were the designers, the seam stresses, the pattern makers, the PR team and the manager, Maggie. I enjoyed the environment of strong workmanship and teamwork. And even if I was an intern, I felt important because I was part of the team as well. During any internship, it is best to form a bond or professional relationship with your co-workers. It can start from a normal conversation to going on an errand with him/her. The more people you know, the more exposure you can get to learning more and in the end make some of the new friends who can promote your work on their blogs or invite you to fashion events. The key is to be as friendly and open minded as possible to any opportunity. I did a few more internships in the summer and whenever I had some time on my hands. And in due time I was blessed to work for Rebecca Taylor, Albright Fashion Library and even Zac Posen. My attitude was to stay positive and always see the opportunity to try things out.
When it comes to making a decision as a Fashion Designer you must live by the rules that anything is possible, but discipline and talent are not the only factors to getting you to the place you want to be in the industry. Fashion Designers need to see their careers through a realistic perspective. It’s not about becoming famous or popular. It is far more difficult to build a Fashion Brand on your own. New Fashion Brands have a high chance of losing their company due to lack of finances, and time management. So it’s important to see the business aspect in Fashion rather than the glamorous world depicted in television and films. The most important piece of advice I can give to others pursuing fashion is to be well rounded about every aspect of the business. In general, knowing your strengths as a designer is essential, but it all takes time to figure out what you are good at. If you are an artist when it comes to renderings and illustrations, you can make a remarkable portfolio of your designs to present in interviews. But it never hurts to improve the other skills needed. Knowing how to sew, drape fabric and make patterns is by far the most important skill to have as a young designer. When it comes to making prototypes to send out to a factory, you want your garment to look as close to the design you envisioned in your head. Another aspect is to know your aesthetic in designing and figure out what your signature look is. Once you figure out your signature look, start to conceptualize a theme for a collection. it’s important to come up with cohesive pieces that you can easily mix and match with. It could be based on the neckline, the cut of a pant, or the color story. Creating a collection is also based on fabrics and a color story. Everything has to make sense and fall into place of design.
The more knowledge and skills you earn, the more confident you should feel presenting your work to others in the industry. For many designers, skills can go unnoticed if they don’t put themselves out there. For this day and age, having a blog or being active on social media websites is another perk to advertising your brand. But I suggest to bring everything to a balance. Building a brand is not about promoting yourself, or hiding behind your phone posting photos on Twitter or Instagram to gain popularity. If you happen to know people from your internships, visit the studio and say hello from time to time to leave an impression on them. Help out others with their fashion shows. Do charity events if you can. There are a variety of ways to step outside your comfort zone and meet new people who can help you further your career.
I hope the people who have read my story can understand that pursuing a career in fashion design is a full time commitment to working on your skills and your brand. Getting an education is never enough to get a real job in the industry same as doing internship trials for a Fashion House. Your experiences can make a difference in becoming designer drastically. Always see the chances in improving your ability. Designers must be confident in their work and themselves in order to start their own brand. I wish everyone the best of luck and I hope to see my readers succeed in the future.