How Do I Become a Handbag Designer?

Research what it takes to become a handbag designer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Handbag Designer?

If you love the world of fashion, particularly handbags, and would like to take part in or oversee the design process, a career as a handbag designer might be for you. These designers may observe current fashion trends to help create their own original designs and collections of handbags. They sketch or use computer-aided design programs to render their ideas. They may make handbags for a particular season or handbags to be paired with particular styles, and may market their handbags to retail stores or directly to consumers. Handbag designers select their materials, colors and fabrics and then oversee the production of their creations. They may attend various trade shows or fashion shows to display their work and sell it to consumers or retailers. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Fashion design, fashion merchandising, accessory design
Training Required Internships or entry-level work experience common
Key Skills Sketching, communication, creativity, computer-aided design
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% increase (for all fashion designers)*
Average Salary (2015) $73,180 (for all fashion designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Handbag Designer?

Most jobs in fashion design, which include the design of handbags and other accessories, require a 2-year or 4-year degree. Fashion design programs, which typically include courses in accessory design, are fairly common at postsecondary institutions across the country. For example, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredits about 300 schools, most of which offer fashion design programs.

If you want to become a handbag designer, you might also look into those degree programs tailored specifically towards accessory design. Although not nearly as common as general fashion design programs, a few accessory design programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. You may need to provide a competitive portfolio or complete basic art and design courses before being officially accepted into a fashion design or accessory design program.

Although a degree is a common requirement to get started as a handbag designer, you should be aware that having a degree doesn't guarantee success in this field. Handbag designers need to have a natural eye for design and some basic artistic abilities. Often, it is your design portfolio that determines whether or not you land a job in this highly competitive, slow-growing field.

What Will I Learn?

In an accessory design degree program, you take general art and design courses, including drawing, color theory, art history and design fundamentals. You also take courses typical of a fashion design program, including textiles, patternmaking, sewing technology, production techniques, fashion sketching and computer-aided design. Some courses focus on handbag design specifically, but you also study other types of accessories as well as footwear. If you want to run your own design business, you might also consider taking business classes or pursuing a business minor or degree.

What Does This Job Entail?

A handbag designer is a specialized type of accessory designer, which in turn is a type of fashion designer. Some fashion designers dabble in all areas of fashion, creating clothing, footwear and different types of accessories, but handbag designers by definition focus exclusively on creating purses and other types of bags. Before beginning a design for a handbag, you typically take time to gather research on current fashions and trends. Once you've sketched some preliminary designs, you select fabric and other materials to create a prototype of your handbag design. At this point, adjustments may need to be made before the handbag is ready to be marketed, manufactured and distributed to stores. Although every designer is different, this process can take up to two years for a single design.

If you work as an independent handbag designer, you might oversee the entire design process, but if you work for a larger design firm, you may deal with a single aspect of the design, such as creating sketches or putting together prototypes. If you own your own business, you will have additional duties, such as working with manufacturers or suppliers, overseeing other employees and marketing your products. You might travel the globe to meet with suppliers and manufacturers and gain inspiration from fashion shows. This field can sometimes demand long hours and high-pressure deadlines, and you must constantly stay educated on current fashions and trends.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A handful of related careers that require a bachelor's degree include art directors, industrial designers and graphic designers. Art directors work for magazines, movie productions and more to create a certain visual style through artwork, costumes, layouts, etc. Industrial designers look at the function and cost of everyday products and work to design new and improved products. They may reimagine products like cars and appliances. Graphic designers may work with art directors to create the visual images and concepts in magazines, advertisements, brochures and other publications.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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