Careers in Manufacturing and Design

  • Who designs a product?
  • Who buys the materials that make up your favorite jacket, belt, or sofa?
  • Who decides where the jacket, belt or sofa will be made?
  • Who figures out how much a product costs to manufacture?

The people responsible for manufacturing and design are the Design Director, Merchandiser, Creative Designer, Technical Designer, Pattern Maker, Sourcing Manager, Production Planner, Piece Goods Buyer, Trimmings Buyer and Quality Control Manager.

Director of Product Development / Design Director

A Director of Product Development ultimately is responsible for the strategic planning of a product development division of a retail company. A Design Director performs the same function for a design/manufacturing firm.

  • Specifies exactly what the company will make and market.
  • Makes decisions related to price, sizes, taste levels, fashion levels, image and timing.

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in fashion design or product development.

Experience

  • 8–10 years of successful work experience as a creative or technical fashion designer.

Personal Characteristics

  • Creativity, quantitative and communication skills, networking abilities, a strong marketing sense, knowledge of the competition, an understanding of consumers, curiosity and leadership abilities.

Merchandiser

A Merchandiser collaborates with the Director of Product Development in deciding what to produce and then organizes and manages the entire product development process.

  • Responsible for the development of a balanced, marketable, profitable and timely line.
  • Will create the initial line plan and project target wholesale costs by analyzing sales from previous seasons, fashion trends and customer wants.
  • Works with designers on themes and costs.

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in merchandising, fashion design, retailing or a related field.

Experience

  • 3-5 years in product development.

Personal Characteristics

  • Excellent communication and analytical skills.
  • Thorough market knowledge, a keen fashion sense, creativity and an astute marketing instinct.
  • Make well-informed decisions quickly and confidently.

Creative Designer

A Creative Designer is responsible for carrying out the design direction in their department through original ideas for products.

  • Interpret trends to suit their customers, so they must continually study lifestyles and keep up to date with trends.
  • Design and select components to fit within a predetermined price range and allow the company to make a profit.
  • Design ready-to-wear lines that will be sold in retail stores.
  • Must have a thorough knowledge of fabrics, know how to make patterns, and understand how products are constructed.
  • Supervise pattern and sample making; see their designs through to a successful completion.
  • Oversee Associate Designers and Assistant Designers on their team.

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in fashion design.

Experience

  • 1–5 years as an assistant and/or associate designer.

Personal Characteristics

  • Artistically creative, yet understand the technical and marketing aspects of the business.
  • Problem-solving, time management and conflict management skills.
  • Results-oriented, able to set priorities, relates well to others, and cool under pressure.

Technical Designer

The Technical Designer and Assistant Technical Designer interpret the creative design concepts into the development of prototypes that can be manufactured in mass production through accurate product specification completion.

  • Creates final full garment specifications to reflect all fit, construction, and performance details that can be manufactured in mass production.
  • Technical fit is a primary focus along with appropriate construction direction.
  • Must have an innate understanding of garment construction and an ability to execute perfect flat sketches.
  • Ensure that garments can be mass-produced.
  • Works with global partners to resolve issues related to any technical design issues.

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in fashion design.

Experience

  • 3–4 years as an assistant technical designer and pattern maker.
  • Knowledge of fit, pattern making, construction, fabrics and trims.

Personal Characteristics

  • Good evaluative, communication, time management and problem-solving skills.

Pattern Maker

A Pattern Maker and Assistant Pattern Maker develops patterns for apparel products, using either draping or flat pattern methods.

  • Patterns typically are made from sketches provided by a creative designer.
  • After approval by the designer, the pattern maker develops detailed specification lists, or spec sheets, outlining detailed measurement and construction guidelines as well as fabric and trim information.

Job Qualifications

Education

  • An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fashion design or product development

Experience

  • 2–5 years as an assistant pattern maker
  • Effective skills in draping, flat pattern and CAD

Personal Characteristics

  • Keen attention to detail and focus on accuracy
  • The ability to construct almost every type of garment

Sourcing Manager

A Sourcing Manager is the individual responsible for sourcing production. Responsibilities include

  • Work with overseas or domestic producers
  • Discuss product specifications
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Put production and quality controls in place
  • Monitor production and delivery schedules

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, fashion design, product development, business or a related field

Experience

  • Strong knowledge of sewing and product construction
  • General technical knowledge of fabric use and construction
  • 2-3 years as a buyer or wholesale merchandiser

Personal Characteristics

  • Flexibility, comprehensive vision of changes and potential problems, proactive, negotiate effectively, understanding of cultural differences

Production Planner

A Production Planner is responsible for planning, anticipating all of the parts needed to make the final product.

  • Review forecasts of sales
  • Plan fabric production based on orders
  • Schedule and monitor work in progress
  • Work with manufacturers to determine the availability of goods
  • Collaborate with key departments to anticipate needs
  • Meet strict deadlines to keep shipments on time

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, fashion design or business

Experience

  • Knowledge of manufacturing
  • Knowledge of offshore raw materials planning and purchasing
  • Experience in a large and varied manufacturing fashion company

Personal Characteristics

  • Communicate clearly; multilingual background is valuable

Piece Goods Buyer and Trimmings Buyer

The Piece Goods Buyer, Findings/ Trimmings Buyer, Assistant Piece Goods Buyer, and Assistant Trimmings Buyer work for companies that use textiles and trimmings/ findings in the production of final products.

  • Piece goods are fabrics
  • Findings are zippers, thread, linings, and interfacings
  • Trimmings are decorative components

Responsibilities

  • Determining from which vendors goods will be purchased
  • Planning the amount of fabric, findings and trimmings to purchase
  • Coordinating with production managers and warehouse managers
  • Working out financial arrangements for purchases
  • Quality control

Job Qualifications

Education

  • A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, fashion design, textiles or a related field

Experience

  • Promoted from the position of assistant piece goods buyer or from textile design

Personal Characteristics

  • Excellent quantitative skills which are needed for calculating cost of goods, delivery expenses and yardage amounts
  • Work effectively under pressure, have excellent follow-up and communication skills, and be a successful negotiator
  • High attention to detail

Quality Control Manager 

A Quality Control Manager is responsible for the final inspection of garments from the manufacturer.

  • Checks fabric, fit and construction for quality and adherence to product specification guidelines
  • Responsible for training new and existing Quality Control Employees and for developing specific guidelines and standards for the company.

Job Qualifications

Education

  • At least a bachelor’s degree in textiles or textile testing. A master’s or PhD degree is preferred.

Experience

  • 5–10 years in quality control
  • Solid understanding of garment construction, specifications and spec sheets

Personal Characteristics

  • Excellent eye for detail and a commitment to high standards
  • Excellent communication and people skills