Is becoming a knitwear designer right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do knitwear designers do?

Still unsure if becoming a knitwear designer is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a knitwear designer or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become a Knitwear Designer

Becoming a knitwear designer involves a combination of formal education, specialized training, and practical experience. Here is an outline of the pathway to the career:

High School Diploma
Take courses in art, design, textiles, and home economics. If available, participate in extracurricular activities related to fashion and design. Aim for strong performance in subjects like mathematics, which is useful for pattern making and measurements, and English, which helps in communication and presentation skills.

Bachelor’s Degree
Most aspiring knitwear designers pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design. These programs typically cover various aspects of fashion design, including illustration, textiles, pattern making, sewing, draping, computer-aided design (CAD), and fashion history. Seek out programs that include coursework in knitwear design, covering topics such as knitwear techniques, knitting technology, yarn and fabric science, fabric development, knitwear pattern making, and knitted garment construction.

Reputable fashion schools known for their strong programs in knitwear design, include the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Parsons School of Design, Central Saint Martins, and the London College of Fashion.

A related area of study that some designers may choose is fashion merchandising, which focuses more on the business side of fashion, including developing a solid business plan, marketing, branding, retail management, and consumer behavior. This learning path is a potential option for students who aspire to work as an independent or freelance knitwear designer. Self-employment and freelancing require high-level entrepreneurial skills and the ability to manage various aspects of the business, from design to production to sales.

Online Courses and Platforms
Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare offer online courses in fashion design and knitwear techniques. While these courses do not lead to a formal degree or credential, they can enhance skills and knowledge in specific areas of knitwear design.

Technical Training
Gain proficiency in both hand knitting and machine knitting. Learn about different stitches, patterns, and the operation of knitting machines. Learn to use design software like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and specialized knitwear design programs like DesignaKnit 9, KnitBird, and Stitchmastery.

Start Designing
Begin with freelance projects or small collections to build your reputation and gain experience. Offer your design services to local boutiques or online retailers. Collaborate with other designers or textile artists to expand your portfolio and gain exposure.

Internships and Apprenticeships
Gain practical hands-on experience through internships or apprenticeships with fashion houses, retail brands, knitwear designers, or textile manufacturers. Positions such as junior designer, assistant designer, or technical designer can provide valuable mentorship and industry insights and help build a professional network.

Portfolio Development
Create a strong portfolio showcasing your knitwear designs, technical skills, and creativity. Include sketches, finished garments, and any projects that demonstrate your expertise.

Post-Graduate Education (Optional)
Pursuing a master’s degree in fashion design, textile design, or a related field can provide advanced knowledge and specialization. Programs may offer focused studies in knitwear design and innovation. Some institutions offer specialized postgraduate programs or certifications in knitwear design.

Build a Brand
Once you have sufficient experience and a strong portfolio, consider launching your own knitwear label. This involves creating a business plan, developing a brand identity, and marketing your products. Establish a professional online presence through a website and social media platforms. Use these channels to showcase your designs, connect with potential clients, and engage with the fashion community.

Continuous Learning
Regularly research current fashion trends, particularly in knitwear. Subscribe to fashion magazines, attend fashion shows, and follow industry news. Participate in workshops, masterclasses, short courses, and online classes to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in knitwear design. Engage in continuous learning through professional organizations, fashion seminars, and industry conferences.

Professional Organizations and Certifications
There are several professional organizations and associations that knitwear designers can join to connect with others in the industry, access resources, and stay informed about trends and opportunities.

Certifications in the field are not standardized. However, there are several avenues through which knitwear designers can gain recognition and specialized training:

  • The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) is dedicated to supporting knitters and knitwear designers. It offers the following certifications: Master Hand Knitting, Professional Knitter Certification, Certification for Knitwear Designers, Certification for Knitting Judges, Certification for Technical Editors, Certification for Knitting Instructors.
  • Craft Yarn Council (CYC) represents the yarn industry and supports designers and knitters with education, patterns, and certification programs. It offers the Certified Instructors Program.
  • Fashion Group International (FGI) is a worldwide membership organization of industry leaders in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and retail sectors with global headquarters in New York.
  • The Textile Society is based in the UK and supports textile professionals, including knitwear designers, through events, publications, and grants.
  • American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) provides resources and sets standards in textile and coloration industries.
  • International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) promotes research and education in textile and apparel fields, offering conferences and publications relevant to knitwear designers.
  • The Costume Society (UK) supports individuals interested in costume and fashion history, including knitwear designers, through publications, events, and grants.
  • Knitting Machine Manufacturers such as Shima Seiki or Stoll, often provide training and certification programs for using their machines. These programs may cover both basic and advanced techniques for machine knitting.