2 answers

How does a person become a creative director for a clothing company and the responsibilities one holds?

Asked Orlando, Florida

I am a #college student who wants to major in #fashion #marketing and #managment and I want to become a #creativedirector. I would like to know how do you become one exactly, do you have to work your way up the #fashion industry? can you go straight to becoming one?

2 answers

Katarzyna’s Answer


Becoming a Creative Director or a Design Director for a clothing company requires a path of progression thru the ranks of an organization. Most people start as assistant designers or designers and work their way up thru the ranks with progressive responsibility. It differs from person to person and brand to brand, but I’d say it takes 7-10 years to arrive at a director role at a reputable brand.

This is a good thing! In order to become a successful creative director you need to gain understanding of not only how to design a successful, commercially viable, consumer driven product, but also understand the business model, strategic organizational goals and become a strong people leader.

you can have great ideas, that doesn’t make you reassure to be a great creative director- leadership and strategic thinking do.

As a creative director you transition from an individual contributor (designing) to a team leader and coach. People leadership skills, the ability to motivate, teach and shape direction while ensuring that a large group of teammates follows your lead and believes in your direction is a critical component of success - if you ascend too fast they the ranks you risk not having the credibility and humility to succeed in this. In the end as a leader the buck stops with you, you will be responsible for everything the team does and have to own the results.

Creative directors are also large part politicians. We spend half of our time working with clients, influencing constituencies internal and external within the organization, selling ideas, working with partners in marketing, sales, merchandising and commercialization to make sure the ideas are adopted.

Its an incredibly rewarding career, but not as glamorous as it seems. Lots of hard work and continuous learning is required.

I’d start by identifying brands you are aspiring to work for, research which of their values you identify with, research leaders within those organizations and the path they took to get there. Start with your foot in the door as a designer. Be humble, patient and learn from those above you. Find great mentors in the organization and ask them to coach you in your growth. Progressively take on more responsibility and potentially direct reports, until you are ready to provide creative direction to others. This takes years and you don’t want to skip any steps, the gaps in institutional learning will hinder your growth if you do.

Katarzyna recommends the following next steps:

  • Research companies
  • Contact leaders in your target companies and ask for a foot in the door- internship or assistant role
  • Attend industry networking events and build your network
  • Map out your 5-10 year plan

Nash’s Answer

Updated Springfield, Virginia

In order for you to become successful at any job that relates to creativity, you should be creative in your personal life with projects that have nothing to do with your job.

Why do I say this? Because more often than not, I have been moved up to creative roles in a company (that I had no work experience for) simply because they saw I was killing it in my personal life.

And the best way to demonstrate creativity is to show that you have that natural, innate talent with or without work experience :)

Who knows, instead of becoming a creative director for just any company, why not start your own? :)

Nash recommends the following next steps:

  • Start working on creative projects of your own! (Start now!)
  • Start building your own brand.
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