10 Things To Look For When Hiring A Fashion Designer

by Calvin Cox on July 23, 2009


flat sketches fashion menswear swatches

Fashion Illustration by Camille Wilkinson

I know as a design professional, finding the right designer to do a specific job can be time consuming and somewhat difficult, much less trying to find one when you’re outside the design industry and not familiar with design at all. I’ve created the “Hire A Designer” series to help clients find the right designer by giving them some valuable tips on what to look for when hiring for their next big project.

I will be selecting design professionals from within the Styleapple design network to participate in this series and present what they feel are the top 10 most important things to look for when hiring a designer.

This week I’ve managed to secure Camille Wilkinson to discuss what she feels are the ten most important things to consider when hiring a fashion designer. Camille Wilkinson has worked in the fashion industry for over 25 years and has created a reputation for working with some of the top brands in the industry. I have had the chance to work with Camille and found her to be both professional and very creative. You can see some of her design work on Styleapple.

The designer tips in this series will be introduced on Branded Designers but the complete list will be posted on the Styleapple “Hire A Designer” pages where clients are submitting quote requests to the Styleapple Network.

Here is a briefing of Camille’s Top 10…



POINT 1. From the first online (or offline) portfolio to the last portfolio you sift through, ask yourself: Which one blew you out of your socks?

POINT 2. Those portfolios that knock your socks off are where to start your follow-up.

POINT 3. What made them catch your eye, hold your breath, and call in the rest of your team to see what you see. If you know what you need, seeing what fits the bill should be easy. The plus of looking, is if you find something more, something je ne sais pas (I don’t know what), but when you see it – wow – you know it.

It might be good to know what kind of environment they best design in… It is not just a passing curiosity to know how a designer thrives best. And aside from the physical environment, what is the computer environment or OS (operating system) – along with the programs – that made their work pop. Genius may also have its source in the tools used.

POINT 4. A good portfolio contains – like manners – a designer’s best foot forward, their best work, their best representation of all of what they can do as a designer. And like manners, it’s not a façade, it’s not a put-on, it’s in fact the super powers that they have cultivated throughout their career to the point where they are now: Now, ‘You Are Here’. So no worries, they should be able to back up what ever they have presented. That is to say, they should be able to apply all their talents and skills to whatever you may challenge them with.

POINT 5. Check and balance your initial awe of pretty pictures with sound design process practicalities. If you don’t see it in the portfolio, and you still want to investigate what the designer is capable of, let this be one question in your first line of defense upon interviewing:

QUESTION #1. Are you capable of detailing your designs in a tech pack?
You should also ask:
QUESTION #2. Are you capable of leading fit meetings for your designs?
And since you are on this track, ask this:
QUESTION #3. Are you knowledgeable of fabric types, constructions, knitting qualities, and gauges?

Yes, you need to get technical with a prospective designer, to know the perimeters of their skills. Even if you have departments who this work is delegated to, a designer must know how to communicate with them to get their designs to the next stage.

See the complete list here>>

If you are interested in writing a top 10 for your discipline in design. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly at calvin [at] styleapple [dot] com

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