The Scope of a Bridal Designer

A Peek Inside


It occurred to me that the scope of what a bridal designer (or designer-manufacturer-retailer, in our case) does is probably lost on pretty much everyone.  To satisfy my own curiosity, I did a brain dump.  I think I surprised even myself.  



It seemed a handy collection of thoughts to share with someone considering a career in fashion (which almost necessitates entrepreneurship), in bridal retail, or just a fun peek inside for my brides.  I ADORE Renegade; I'm literally living my dream.  That said, unless you're new here, you know I'm not one to put up with romanticizing a fantasy.  Strangers tend to reply, "Oh, that must be fun!"  You BET it is!  But in case you thought the job description was all sketching and sewing, I'm here to shatter that notion and blow your mind a wee bit.  

bridal fashion designer natalie harrisI know I'm not the only one in this boat, though!  When you finish, comment below with what YOU do and maybe your very own list of skills that the general public overlooks.  Teach me something!  :)

Full disclosure:  I couldn't possibly do every one of these steps on my own.  There was a point at which I did!  That was back when I took on about five brides annually, though.  haha.  I fully believe it's necessary to understand how to do each step before you could ask it of someone else.  There are factories who refuse to work with startup designers, and it's easy to understand why.  I'm honored to have built and grown Renegade, and myself along the way, into the picture of what we are today, yet both ever-improving works-in-progress!  No woman is an island, but I still do each and every one of these list items, though certainly not every task for every project.  

My 38 Bridal Fashion "Micro-careers" 

  1. Brand Research: listening to what brides want and need
  2. Public Relations
  3. Advertising
  4. Event planning: runway, open houses, trunk shows
  5. Trend Research: textiles, shape, color
  6. Fabric Sourcing: building relationships with suppliers, attending expos
  7. Technical Design and Illustration
  8. Pattern Making
  9. Draping
  10. Samplemaking: a fashion prototype
  11. Pattern Grading: determining how sizes change, what a size "8" means
  12. Textile (Surface) Design: creating original prints
  13. Embellishment design: embroidery and rhinestone elements
  14. Dye Technician: understand fiber chemistry and artful manipulation
  15. Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  16. Creative direction (the actual creative designing! haha)
  17. Editorial stylist: getting gowns featured while staying on-brand
  18. Runway producer: choreographer, model casting/fitting
  19. Project Management: communications with Production team
  20. Sales & Relationship Building: brides, retailers
  21. Customer Service
  22. Networking and supporting industry peers
  23. Web Design
  24. Graphic design
  25. Content creation: sharing advice & expertise, social media
  26. Creative direction: photography, styling, casting models, hiring photography team
  27. Fit testing
  28. Quality control
  29. Merchandising: store layout, expo booth design, etc
  30. Pricing: service and product strategy to solve different problems and serve multiple market segments
  31. Fashion Illustration: communicating ideas with inspired brides and young women
  32. SEO
  33. Digital Marketing: newsletter, site updates
  34. Store maintenance
  35. Inventory management: keeping stock gowns clean, in good condition
  36. Bookkeeping/accounting
  37. Financial planning
  38. Continuing to be a student of it all with constant, current education to always improve


I feel like it paints a clear picture that wasn't ever really laid out to me in college.  The skill to make a gorgeous gown isn't the end of the story.  I count my blessings that love led me to Houston.  I don't know if I'd have been inspired by bold brides if I stayed in the corn belt. I know plenty of anecdotes of the Manhattan/LA starving artist struggle, too, and recognize the opportunity this city and the Washington Avenue Arts District specifically has afforded me.  All my stars aligned to allow me to survive, grow, and keep dreaming, here in the Bayou City, despite every doomsday statistic about fashion design or bridal retail failure rates for entrepreneurs.  

Did any of that come as a surprise?  Is this peek behind the curtain what you imagine when you watch Project Runway? 

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