Covid 19 has changed our life in a dramatic way and there is a new normal for everyone. So as fashion designers, brands, fashion business across the world. What was normal in pre-pandemic period is no more normal and there is a new way of life. So, it’s important that we change our prospective and see how we can fit in to this new normal. The worst affected industry was Apparel and Fashion during the Covid 19 Pandemic. But we have to find a way how we can survive and grow with this situation. Lots of people lost their job and at the same time work got affected. Everyone is behind the schedule as there are not much workforce in offices. Work from home is now the new normal and people are slowly adopting this. For apparel startups solution is hiring freelance fashion designer for their collection design.
Most articles on internet talks about “how to become a freelance fashion designer”. I could not get a single article that talks about how to hire one. What parameters to measure the capability of a freelance fashion designer. Whether designer is well equipped and has past experience working on your idea you don’t know. The reason I am talking about this is it is a west of your time if he / she is unfit. Sometimes a freelance fashion designer is very good and has a great portfolio. But he / she may not have the domain knowledge of your collection. As we all know designers are specialize as per the categories like men’s wear, kids wear, and Intimate wear and so on. So figuring out if the tech pack designer is right fit is a challenge. There are more hurdles which we will discuss in detail.
Groundwork before Hiring Fashion Designer
Be sure of your collection line-sheet. I met a lot brands who come to me with collection line sheet with styles that have no relation with each other. One style casual wear, one active wear and one party wear. With that kind of mix, you are wasting your time and money. You are not going anywhere your brand will not have a value and you end up doing nothing. So, my suggestion is to stick to one segment and focus on how you build your collection around it. Focus on one category and make a collection that people can relate to it. And build your brand around this. When your collection line sheet is in place, finding a freelance fashion designer is easy. You can figure out who can do your job better and what expertise is necessary to make your idea alive. Chose what works best for you.
How can you hire a freelance fashion designer?
Once you have your line-sheet in place, the next step is taking the help for design and tech packs. You need a technical fashion designer to streamline your collection for further processing. Your styles raw ideas are not ready for a clothing manufacturer yet. To make your collection production friendly, you need a designer with technical expertise. So, how to hire a freelance fashion designer with appropriate technical expertise? Here are some of the tips you can use to hire a fashion designer. First go through their portfolio and see if they have done similar work related to your category. If you do not find any then move on because, it is possible the designer has no working experience on your domain. If you find work examples related to your need then start the talk. Try to find out her expertise by asking question related to fabrics or fits etc.
How do freelance fashion designers work?
Once you lock on few designers, the next step is to figure out their working procedure. Some freelance fashion designers work on hourly basis and some work on end to end assignment. Also some of the designers charge for the changes or alterations done on the design and charge extra. So, for you it is important to get clarity of the working process of the designer. Also you need to make sure what all you are going to get for the money you pay. So you must take a written confirmation of the details that you are going to get for a design you assign to them. If you are do complete factory ready design, make sure the detailing that you get in the design package. A tech pack (factory ready prototype of the style) has several details. Fabric, color, garments construction and so on.
You may have the idea but you are not clear about what you want and try to make it perfect with several alterations. In this case the designer keeps working on the same style several times. Here hiring a designer on hourly basis is a good option. Those who work on fixed rate do not like to do design alterations time and again as they are not paid for it. So, you can decide what you want based on your need. Go for package rates if you are sure what you want to do with your design.
How much does a freelance fashion designer charge?
Freelance fashion designer charge is more of a subjective way to calculate the cost of a service. The service is creative in nature and has no fixed parameter to measure the cost. So, it would be unfair to give a number. But, we can at best talk about the highest and lowest point of pay for fashion designers. We have taken the yearly average pay of a freelance fashion designer and in USA it is between $50, 000 USD to $60,000 USD. And if we calculate this in to monthly average then it comes out to be $ 4500 to $ 5000 USD. But, the charge varies depending on the project, location and other factor. If we talk about the hourly rates the designers charge between $ 65 USD to $ 140 USD per hour. This depends upon many factors like complexity, experience and location of designer.
Paying Hourly Rates to Freelance Fashion Designers
Talking about hourly rates, experienced freelance fashion designers charge between $ 65 to $ 150. And the designers who are already famous in the industry, charge higher than this. And the new and upcoming freelancers charge between $ 40 to $ 65. As per a survey, hourly rates for sketch artist and illustrators range between $ 25 USD to $ 120 USD. The variation on rates depends on the experience, specialty etc.
Although there is a wide difference in the pay rates, we can still have a basis of calculation of rates. Average weekly working hour is 40 Hours. This is the normal working hour we follow across the industry. Now if a freelancer yearly rate comes out to be $60,000 USD then the calculation goes like this. Total number of hours a designer can give in a year is 40 X 52 (weeks) = 2080 hours. Now if we divide the yearly income by the number of hours per year we get the hourly rate. In this case it is $ 60,000 USD / 2080 = 28.9 USD. We can take this roughly $30 USD / Hour. If we compare the average rate of a designer with an IT professional then the comparison is very wide. IT professional gets around $90 – $100 per hour. Also the rate changes depending on location.
The Way Forward
Fashion designing has now become very competitive from both ends. Both the demand for fashion designers and supply of the same has increased manifold. When there is a lot of work coming for fashion designers, lot of new designers keep on adding to this field. This leads to a large number of low skill and low pay freelance fashion designers. And start-up companies and apparel brands choose this as an option. This leads to low quality technical package and lots of error in apparel production. So, my suggestion is examine the quality of a freelancer not by price he/ she quote. Rather see her past work and portfolio and choose the best that suit your need.
Support start-ups Apparel Brands
If you are a start-up clothing brand hiring freelance fashion designer comes out to be handy. However, you cannot be sure that tech sheet prepared to resemble your idea. It needs apparel industry experience to work as an independent freelance fashion designer. Small brands and private labels have limited resource approach freelance fashion designers. It is important to hire designers with industry experience. So what it takes to become independent clothing designer and work with clients and apparel brands? You should always consider making a SWOT analysis and access the internal and external factors that drive apparel industry.
Hiring Full Time Designers Vs Freelance Designers
Most apparel brands find it cost-effective to use freelancers than in-house design team. So, they hire freelance fashion designer for their collection design and tech pack. There are two ways of working with freelancers. One is time bound and hourly rate and other is assigning a turn-key project. In both ways,the coordination with clothing designer is vital. You must make sure your ideas are well visualized by the clothing designer. This helps the technical designer design right technical specification. This saves a lot of time and money especially when you are working on an hourly rate. There are two ways where you can either give assignments. Partly with sketches to tech packs and then clothing manufacturing. It is always preferable to assign complete project if you are a start-up brand.
Clothing designers working for brands exclusively focus on one or two particular segments. As a freelance fashion designer, you get to work with a various brand with diverse thought process and ideas. For example, if you are working on means wear today you might have to work for denim designs or lingerie. So for a clothing designer, it is important to open up to many diverse segments and expertise on them.
What it Takes to Become a Successful Freelance Designer
For a freelance fashion designer, three things are important.
- 1. Create a fashion portfolio with your original designs and showcase it in various web platforms.
- 2. Access to pattern designers and manufacturing units in the nearby area.
- 3. You should set the deal memos right.
- 4. You must know how to prepare tech pack for any garment style.
Freelance Designer Supporting Emerging Apparel Brand
I work with freelance fashion designer when I have more workload and delegate work to those best in their field. My first choice is how well the person coordinates with me when it comes to working. We verify and test tech packs multiple times before sending to the client. If you are not aware of tech pack then please read the blog post ” Steps in Tech Pack Design“. And If you are looking for tech pack template for common styles visit our online store.
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