Freelance Fashion Designer or an established fashion branding and design studio. This is a difficult choice especially for a fashion startup. The reason is, they have limited or no investment and whatever they spend they do it from their own pocket. So, what to do when you are about to start your clothing brand. Fashion branding and design studios are expensive. And if you are getting your design and tech packs done you have a very limited scope to alter or modify your styles. Even if you can do the cost is too high. Alternative choice is to find an able freelance fashion designer with Industry experience. This can be an ultimate solution to propel your fashion startup to a new height. The skills you should be looking are the candidate should be an excellent tech pack designer. Secondly, the candidate should be having a creative outlook.
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Assessing the Situation For Starting An Apparel Brand
Covid 19 has changed our life in a dramatic way and there is a new normal for everyone. So as fashion designers, brands, and fashion businesses across the world. What was normal in the pre-pandemic period is no more normal and there is a new way of life. So, it’s important that we change our perspective and see how we can fit into 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 in this situation. Lots of people lost their job and at the same time work got affected. Everyone is behind schedule as there is not much workforce in offices. Working from home is now the new normal and people are slowly adopting this. The apparel startup’s solution is to hire freelance designers for their collection design.
Most articles on the internet talk about “how to become a freelance fashion designer”. I could not get a single article that talks about how to hire one. What parameters measure the capability of a freelance apparel designer? Whether the 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 west of your time if he/she is unfit. Sometimes a 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 specialize in the categories like men’s wear, kids’ wear, Intimate wear, and so on. So figuring out if the tech pack designer is the right fit is a challenge. There are more hurdles that we will discuss in detail.
Groundwork before Hiring Fashion Designer
Be sure of your collection line sheet. I met a lot of brands who come to me with collection line sheets with styles that have no relation to each other. One style of casual wear, one activewear, 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 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 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 do hire a freelance technical designer with appropriate technical expertise? Here are some of the tips you can use to hire a freelance 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 in your domain. If you find work examples related to your need then start the talk. Try to find out her expertise by asking questions related to fabrics or fits etc.
How do freelance fashion designers work?
Once you lock on a few designers, the next step is to figure out their working procedure. Some freelance designers work on an hourly basis and some work on end-to-end assignments. Also, some of the designers charge for the changes or alterations done to the design and charge extra. So, for you, it is important to get clarity on the working process of the designer. Also, you need to make sure what 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 doing a complete factory-ready design, make sure the detailing that you get is 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 an hourly basis is a good option. Those who work at a 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 fashion designer charge?
Freelance 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 designer and in the USA it is between $50, 000 USD to $60,000 USD. And if we calculate this into the monthly average then it comes out to be $ 4500 to $ 5000 USD. But, the charge varies depending on the project, location, and other factors. 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 the location of the designer.
Paying Hourly Rates to Fashion Designers
Talking about hourly rates, experienced freelance 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 artists and illustrators range between $ 25 USD to $ 120 USD. The variation in rates depends on the experience, specialty, etc.
Although there is a wide difference in the pay rates, we can still have a basis for the calculation of rates. The average weekly working hour is 40 Hours. This is the normal working hour we follow across the industry. Now if a freelancer’s yearly rate comes out to be $60,000 USD then the calculation goes like this. The 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 design has now become very competitive from both ends. Both the demand for fashion designers and the supply of the same has increased manifold. When there is a lot of work coming for fashion designers, a 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 packages and lots of errors in apparel production. So, my suggestion is to examine the quality of a freelancer not by the price he/ she quote. Rather see her past work and portfolio and choose the best that suits your need.
Support start-ups Apparel Brands
For fashion startups opting for a freelance designer comes out to be handy. At the same time, you can not be sure that tech packs prepared by freelancers resemble your idea. To convert your idea to an actionable blueprint a designer needs core industry exposure. With this in mind, search for a freelancer with proper industry exposure. In general, startups have limited resources. So working with a big fashion house is not an option for them. So the only option left is to hire a freelance fashion designer. If you ask me a good freelance fashion designer is expected to do the following.
- Analyze your market trend and give solutions on your styles that appeal to your customers.
- Prepare fashion flats and keep tweaking them until it matches your expectation.
- Help you choose fabrics, and colors that you can use in multiple styles and optimize your cost.
- Add technicalities to make the idea production friendly keeping your design aesthetics intact.
- Suggest suitable and easily available quality trims and other accessories.
- Suggest suitable clothing manufacturers to the client for sample development and apparel production.
- Deal with the manufacturers and develop cordial relations with them.
- Constant communication with the client during the process of apparel tech pack design.
- The designer must make use of appropriate CAD software to prepare vectors.
Hiring Full-Time Designers Vs Freelance Designers
Most apparel brands find it more cost-effective to use freelancers than an in-house design team. So, they hire freelance apparel designers for their collection design and tech pack. There are two ways of working with freelancers. One is time-bound and hourly rate and the other is assigning a turn-key project. In both ways, coordination with the clothing designer is vital. You must make sure your ideas are well visualized by the clothing designer. This helps the technical designer design the right technical specification. As a result, it 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 a 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 various brands with diverse thought processes 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 on 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 a tech pack for any garment style.
Freelance Designer Supporting Emerging Apparel Brand
I work with designers 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 them to the client. If you are not aware of the tech pack then please read the blog post ” Steps in Tech Pack Design“. And If you are looking for a tech pack template for common styles visit our online store.
Also, Consider Reading the Below Posts
- Freelance Fashion Tech Pack Designer
- Freelance Tech Pack Designer Role In Collection Tech Pack Design
- How To Hire a Freelance Fashion Designer
- Freelance Clothing Designer – Clothing Design and Production
- Freelance Technical Designer Garment Manufacturer