Ann Dishinger Chicago is three words that roll right off the tongue of anyone in the fashion industry these days. Ann Dishinger is an experienced fashion designer and industry veteran based out of Chicago and is known for working with high-profile clients.

Having experienced so much success, it is no wonder that numerous aspiring designers look to her for advice on breaking into fashion design and designing clothing that consumers will adore.

Getting Started in the Fashion Industry

Just as you cannot build walls without pouring a concrete floor, you cannot start a career in fashion design without securing a foundation. Jumping right into designing clothes is unlikely to get you anywhere.

It is crucial to start at the very beginning by getting a proper education in the field. Take classes, get a degree, apply for internships, and accept entry-level jobs like Ann Dishinger did. Spend this time getting to know the ins and outs of the business, from production to marketing to sales and finance, including budgeting and cost management.

Ann Dishinger can attest to this, having received her bachelor’s degree in fashion design. This provided her with a leg up on the competition when it came time to start her career. College also allowed her to find mentors, build her network, and create her portfolio.

In the meantime, develop a point of view and determine your unique aesthetic. It is essential to stand out through a distinct vision and unique sense of style in this highly competitive field.

Do not be deterred by the grueling hours and low pay associated with starting a career in fashion design. Focus on building an expansive portfolio that impressively showcases any accomplishments and all of the work you have put in.

Get Out There

Ann Dishinger admits she got her first client after building her network and freelancing her work through a small boutique business. Always build relationships with anyone in fashion design, business owners, managers, and even employees.

Additionally, join professional organizations, go to industry events, be bold, and reach out to establish connections and discover job possibilities. Put yourself out there.

Meanwhile, stay current on changing trends, brands, and other designers. Keep an eye on industry newcomers. Strategize your approach to gaining a client base using thorough market research.

Determine who the ideal customers are and figure out a marketing plan. Stay open to trying new things or acquiring different skills and be willing to change a plan or strategy.

Get Going

Once you start getting clients, it is time to put all of your hard work to the test. Ann Dishinger advises that you find a routine and stick to it. She admits to scheduling her days in an old-school paper planner.

Make sure you leave room for creative brainstorming every day. Find things that inspire you, such as magazine spreads, objects found in nature, and pictures shared on the internet. Compile all these pieces on a mood board and connect themes like colors, textures, and patterns. Organize your thoughts.

If a client gives you a brief, begin with that to ensure you comply with their demands and design something that works with their values, style, brand, and budget.

Then, go through a checklist of details to consider. Consider the weight, thickness, and construction of different fabrics and the target consumer’s body type. Take different color palettes into consideration for the season or occasion.

Start making your ideas a reality through rough sketches. Ann Dishinger claims in a recent interview, “I will typically jot notes down and maybe a little sketch and then use my computer to bring my idea to life.”

Put all your ideas onto paper and attempt various combinations until you adore the design you have created. Give some thought to all the little details, including sleeve length and overall length, seams, fit, and shape.

Get Technical

Streamline the design on the computer by creating a technical sketch (also known as a flat sketch, technical flat, or CAD). Flatten the design to create a technically accurate drawing. Use this as the blueprint for your masterpiece.

With the design and silhouette, figure out all of the construction specs and details. This may involve collaborating with a developer or sourcing agent to determine different fabrics and trim options. Combine all of these details into a clean tech pack, which will be sent out to determine where various design elements will be sourced.

Decide on what will be sourced and where. Where the product will be assembled is usually sourced, but designers typically also source out a supplier for trims, a supplier for fabrics, and a supplier for labels and packaging materials.

Once the decisions have been made, update the tech pack to include these changes. Send the updated tech pack to the factory to create a rough initial design sample.

Get Ready


Carefully check over the sample from the factory and make any necessary adjustments to the tech pack. Repeat this cycle until the final prototype is something that you love.

Check, double check and triple-check all of the details. Be sure the tech pack is entirely accurate and reflects any updates made along the way. Approve the design and request a pre-production (or top-of-production) sample.

If there is no need for more changes, send it to production and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Ann Dishinger says self-expression is the ultimate inspiration. She explains that clothes give us all the ability to tell others about ourselves without speaking.

Determine what motivates you and keep it in your sights. Becoming a fashion designer is a challenging goal, but it is not impossible.

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