What is a Technical Designer in the Fashion Industry? (and how do I become one?)

When I started my journey in fashion design, I just thought, a ‘fashion designer’ does it all – from designing collections, creating tech packs, to managing the entire product development process. 

But as I started digging deeper into the fashion industry, I was introduced to so many other interesting roles that work behind the scenes – including the technical designer. 

In this article, we’ll explore the technical designer’s role in the fashion industry and see what it takes to become one. 

And if a remote role interests you, I’ll also delve into the world of remote freelance technical design, with the flexibility of working from anywhere around the world.

Let’s start!

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.

Table Of Contents:

What is a Technical Designer in the Fashion Industry?

A technical designer plays an important role in transforming design visions into reality. 

Much like how an architect carefully plans and designs the blueprint for a building, a fashion technical designer creates detailed tech packs for garments – where every stitch, seam, and structural elements are taken into account.

Collaboration is key for technical designers, as they closely work alongside the design team, pattern makers, sample makers, and manufacturers, making sure the designs turn out as envisioned.  

What Does a Fashion Technical Designer Do?

While a technical design role might look different depending on the fashion brand you’re working with – a TDs work often starts after the creative design concepts have been approved. 

From there, TDs take the concept sketches and create detailed specifications ready for production. This is where the tech packs come in, detailing all information related to creating the design – from creating the points of measure, measurements, graded specs, construction standards, sewing details, etc.

tech sketches

From there, TDs aid in the development of the garment by leading the sample evaluations, overseeing garment sample fittings, adjusting patterns based on feedback, and monitoring quality by working closely with factories until the sample is approved for bulk production.

The role of TD’s may not be limited to what I’ve mentioned above, as I’ve also had clients looking for technical designers who can aid with the entire product development process from finding clothing manufacturers, concept development, managing production process timelines, and sourcing.

To give you a general idea, here’s a common technical designer job description you might see floating around the market:

Key Responsibilities of a Technical Designer: 

Collaboration: Work closely with fashion designers, pattern makers, and production teams to bridge the gap between creative vision and practical implementation. 

Garment Fit Evaluation: Ensure that garments fit properly by scheduling fittings of samples, making necessary adjustments, and providing feedback.

Pattern Development: Create and/or review garment patterns, making necessary adjustments to achieve the desired fit, style, and functionality. 

Material Selection: Assist in selecting appropriate fabrics and materials that align with the design concept, while considering factors like cost, quality, and availability. 

Quality Assurance: Maintain high-quality standards by inspecting prototypes and finished products, identifying and resolving any production issues. 

Technical Drawings: Produce detailed flat sketches and specifications for manufacturers.

Size Charts: Develop and update size charts for different clothing lines, ensuring consistency and accuracy. 

Cost Efficiency: Collaborate with the production team to find cost-effective solutions while maintaining design integrity. 

Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date with industry trends, new technologies, and manufacturing techniques to enhance your technical design skills. 

And if that interests you…  

How to Become a Technical Designer (even without a fashion degree)

Becoming a technical designer in the fashion industry may often require a combination of education, practical experience, and skill development. 

And while typical technical designer job descriptions requiring a bachelor’s degree in fashion might scare you off – I’m telling you now, it’s totally possible to get the job without one.

Just like 20 year-old (yes, 20) Arya, a freelance fashion designer from India who taught herself how to draw fashion flats and technical sketches. She started out specializing in technical sketches and within just the first two months – Arya has already secured several clients paying her upwards of $20 per hour!

And there’s a lot of ways to learn technical design skills outside of fashion school – from PAID online courses on websites like DomestikaUdemy, etc. 

But surely, not everyone has the budget for classes, especially when you’re just starting out.

So, if you want FREE tutorials, pop on over to my Youtube channel where you can learn aaalll my tips and tricks related to technical design (and MORE).

I also have LOADS of guides – including my Comprehensive Guide on Measuring Garments and Creating Points of Measure (POM) that breaks down the key measurements and specifications you’ll frequently encounter in the world of technical design. It’s an invaluable resource to have in your toolkit, and it’ll help you navigate this aspect of the role with ease.

measure guide

From there, you can create personal projects that you include in your fashion portfolio for when you apply for technical design roles.

Working as a Remote Freelance Technical Designer

With the need for much collaboration and hands-on sample reviews, you might think that being a technical designer means you’re stuck in an office all day long. 

But what if I told you there’s another way?

As tried and tested by me (and a couple hundred other freelancers 😉), working as a remote freelance technical designer is totally doable.

If you’re interested and want to learn more, I cover this in more detail in my guide on How to Work Remotely as a Freelance Technical Designer.

And if you’re still not convinced it’s possible…

Success Stories of Remote Freelance Technical Designers

Here are some stories of successful technical designers from my Freelance Accelerator: from Surviving to Thriving (FAST) Program who are killing the game.

Alison, a freelance technical designer and patternmaker based in Missouri who was able to exceed her past full-time salary in just 18 months of freelancing. And after 4 years, she is now earning 75% more than her old salary!

“I have as much work as I want, with clients coming to me instead of me having to pitch brands. I work with people I enjoy on projects that I love doing!”

There’s also PK, a mom from India who started out charging $150 per tech pack – now, she has so much work that she was able to build her own international freelance fashion design agency. 

“I started getting more projects and even took in other designers and expanded my team. I can realize my vision from the comfort of my home, which is great. I love this life.”

or Brittany, who was a fashion school graduate with no industry experience, but decided to give it another shot after 15 YEARS of working outside the industry. This time, as a freelance fashion designer. Within two months of launching her freelance career, Brittany has already landed her first client and completed two paid projects.

Along with many other successful TD freelancers that I’ve interviewed on my Fashion Designers Get Paid Podcast.

And I know, it’s not an easy feat. I’ve been in your shoes.

That’s exactly why I created Freelance Accelerator: from Surviving to Thriving (FAST) Program that took me YEARS of planning and designing.

I made it to help aspiring fashion freelancers (freelance fashion designers, technical designers, textile designers etc.) like you to transition into freelance work, and take control of your career.

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