Textile designers are involved in coming up with innovative ideas and developing commercially-appealing designs and prints for a variety of fabrics, clothing and non-clothing materials, furnishing materials, industrial fabrics and other related materials, using both natural and manmade fibres.
These guys are mainly employed in the manufacturing arena, the textile industry and ancillary fields, such as packaging and paper.
Some textile designers even work in research and development labs for futuristic or advanced materials, creating fibres and fabrics for use in specialty environments, such as space, aviation, defence, clean room facilities or hazardous and extreme environments, i.e. underground or in polar regions.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be liaising with customers (usually B2B [business-to-business]) and other professionals that work in buying, marketing, fashion design and manufacturing roles.
You’ll be tasked with understanding client briefs, developing new designs, conducting research, using software applications, such as computer aided design (CAD), to visualise concepts, and creating samples. Furthermore, you’ll get involved in testing and quality assurance.
To thrive in this profession, you’ll need to make sure that you keep up to date on design trends and industry developments, build a network of clients and collaborators, and make sure you have an awareness of current textile production processes.
Salary & benefits
Textile designers in the early stages of their careers can earn around £15,000 to £20,000 per annum, while mid-level designers with a number of years of experience can earn annual salaries ranging between £20,000 and £30,000.
Senior designers with managerial responsibilities can earn up to £45,000 or more.
The vast majority of textile designers work as freelancers or run their own businesses, especially in the retail and fashion industries. Consequently, their earnings depend entirely on their market reputation, expertise, experience and the type of textiles that they design.
Textile designers tend to work in design studios, factories and research and development labs. Salaried designers work regular weekly hours, but may have to put in extra hours as and when required, in order to meet deadlines.
Self-employed designers have more flexible schedules and work according to project deadlines and client requirements.
While there are no minimum academic requirements for entry into this profession, a background (degree, certificate or diploma) in textile design, fashion technology, fine art, surface design or graphic design would be very useful.
Postgraduate or advanced qualifications are required for candidates interested in research and development roles in advanced engineering and technical design.
Training & progression
Most manufacturing, engineering and industrial companies provide a structured, rotational programme of theoretical and hands-on learning.
Professional qualifications from recognised associations, such as the Textile Institute or the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), are necessary for further career progression into senior designer roles and increasing your earning potential.