Fashion is in a constant state of change. This change is driven by what the consumers what, which is in turn driven by the economy, news, pop culture, media, and weather. If the consumer's expectations change, then fashion will have to change as well. There are fashion forecasters who study these changes, take to the streets in search of new fashions, and make educated guesses as to what will be popular the following year. Fashion designers take this information, determine what will sell the best for their target market, and design accordingly. But what exactly do they do?
Usually, fashion designers will work on a design team. This team is usually headed by a lead designer. Sometimes, they will work together and determine what the colours of the season are whilst other times, they will use various fashion forecasting companies' outlook to determine what collection of colors to go with for a particular line. This collection of colors is known as a "color story". Based on their target market, styles will be designed. There should be an appropriate mix of basics (things like boot-cut and skinny jeans, solid-colored tees and camisoles) with trendy and fashion forward items (such as uggs). Creating a good balance of these depends on who you are designing for. In other words, are you designing for a store like Zara, the Gap, or a department store like Kohl's or M&S? Chances are, as a designer you will be working with a team on a specific area of the market your company serves. As a designer, it is a good idea to learn more about your specific target market, what they are like, and what they want. As much as you may want to design something amazing and one-of-a-kind, you are limited by your budget and what styles will ultimately sell. For instance, as much as you might want to design a gorgeous tube-top, mid-thigh length dress with leggings to match, it may not sell as well if your target demographic is professional attire for women in their mid-40s to mid-60s.
A designer not only comes up with ideas, but must do things like purchasing trims, organizing materials, and yes -that evil word- paperwork! It is necessary to document all the steps in the process, to include what has been ordered, what styles have been created, whether or not a particular style has made it past a design review, and what colors the style will be created in. If a particular color or style didn't sell well the previous season, this should be noted. If it is a basic style, then it may need to be updated. If it is a trend that was popular for a while already, it could be that the trend is no longer popular. Maybe changes in fit need to be made (in which case, the patternmaking and technical design teams should make necessary changes).
Once a particular idea has made it past the first review, a sample of the garment will be constructed by part of a team of highly-educated sewing team. After a set number of samples have been constructed, they will go through an additional design meeting. Eventually, the designs for a particular season will be chosen and then the design will begin on the next season. Throughout the entire process, the design team is constantly working with other areas of production, whether inside or outside the company. Therefore, teamwork, cooperation, and compromise is incredibly important throughout the whole process.