What is Garment Technology?
Got a passion for design and how garments fit but aren’t sure what to do with it? You might be cut out for a future in Garment Technology. Garment technology is a diverse and exciting field of the retail industry, and Garment Technologists are currently in high-demand.
In this post, we’ll be introducing you to exactly what Garment Technology is and how to get the job you want, as well as the lowdown on our Level 4 Garment Technology course.
What is a Garment Technologist?
A career in Garment Technology is diverse, fast-paced and collaborative. The core function of a Garment Technologist is to choose the right fabric and cut of a garment to ensure a perfect fit, while keeping in mind budget, trend and manufacturing constraints. A Garment Technologist may work for either a large manufacturer or an individual retailer.
As you might imagine, a Garment Technologist is key to the supply chain. They work closely alongside Merchandisers and Buyers to make the best product possible before a garment is mass-produced. They also test garments for quality and fit and may analyse faults in existing stock.
A key concern for any Garment Technologist is fit and consistency. A garment needs to fit well on all sizes, so a vital component of the role is considering things like embroidery, trims and zip length for scaling. It’s all about the little things, and making sure a garment fits well on everyone. For this reason, this role might suit you if you’ve got a keen eye for detail!
One of the aspects of this career choice is the variety; every garment is different, and so every day is, too. The atmosphere is youthful, dynamic and creative, keeping you challenged and engaged. You’ll also have the opportunity to travel, work with models, and see how your clothes fit on the people who really matter – the customers.
The demand for Garment Technologists is huge in the industry right now, meaning you've got a great chance of landing the job you want.
Meet a Garment Technologist
To give you a better idea of what the reality of being a Garment Technologist is like, we sat down with Lucinda, a Garment Technologist at River Island. She took us through the core function of a Garment Tech: “I work with the buyers and designers on a daily basis, and we take the product from an initial thought to what you see in store. Without our say-so, it wouldn’t go into store.”
What is the best thing about working in garment technology? “We see the product before anyone else,” Lucinda told us. She also shared that one of the most rewarding things about the job is taking a product that hasn’t met expectations and bringing it back in line with a designer’s vision.
Lucinda is keen to stress the importance of work experience when it comes to landing the job you really want. She started a placement at River Island in her third year of university, and landed her Garment Technology position as a result. Here at the FRA, our three-week placements are designed to give you the same exposure, connections and experience.
One of the tutors on the Level 4 Garment Technology course, Rachel Fernandes, actually started out in Buying but soon realised that garment tech was her true calling. “I really loved being involved with the fitting process and the meticulous attention to detail needed to get the product right.” She now aims to pass on this passion and knowledge to her students. “Teaching garment technology at the FRA over the past six years has allowed me to share my knowledge and help hundreds of students, the majority of which are now in industry. Having an understanding of fibres, fabrics and garment construction is extremely beneficial when starting a career in the fashion industry.” Even if you go on to further study or a different discipline, a background in Garment Tech will stand you in good stead.
About our Level 4 Garment Technology course
Our course has been specifically designed to arm you with all of the skills, knowledge, and competencies you'll need to land your ideal job in Garment Technology following graduation. The course takes place over one year, and you’ll study for two days a week.
The course covers all aspects of Garment Technology, from the construction of the garment right through to the fitting process and production. You’ll also learn about what can go wrong, and how it can get rectified. The specific focus of the course explores how clothes fit in relation to customer profiling. Industry projects, set by real retailers, will have you coming up with new fit suggestions and analysing current collections.
Additional skills you’ll learn include:
- Pattern cutting
- Fit requirements
- Factory audits
- Garment testing
- Production and quality assurance
By the end of the course, you'll know how to suggest modifications to clothing, advise on the suitability of various materials and how to source technology fabrics, as well as overseeing fabric and testing and fit sessions. As well as traditional classroom learning, you’ll have the opportunity to undergo a three-week placement and see a compliant factory in London, applying all of your knowledge to a real-life scenario.
On any given day during the course, you might be visiting retailers and trying on clothes, comparing how different sizes compare, as well as measuring for consistency. Back at the college, learning opportunities will include analysing the properties of various fabrics, and exploring defects. You’ll learn to use CAD software, and attend events and exhibitions to further your trend knowledge.
What’s so special about the Level 4 Garment Technology course?
What really sets our Level 4 Garment Technology course apart from traditional university degrees is this 3-week placement, where students work directly with the technology team of a well-known and respected high street brand. This gives you invaluable experience of a "real-life" company and cements what you've already learned with us throughout the course. It’ll give you a real competitive edge when the time comes to apply for jobs.
During the course, you’ll also attend a number of masterclasses held by huge names in the fashion industry, such as ASOS, New Look, and NET-A-PORTER. The masterclasses end with an interactive Q&A session for you to have your say and ask any questions you have. You’ll have the opportunity to visit compliant, mass production factories and become exposed to many stages of the garment lifecycle, building up and rounding out your fashion retail knowledge.
About 90% of FRA graduates go straight into relevant jobs. “I have the FRA to thank for where I am with Wallis,” says Jessica Sporle, who graduated from the Level 4 Garment Technology course in 2014. “I won the Outstanding Student of the Year award, and after doing my work experience at Wallis, they invited me back after I graduated. The whole experience has worked out so well.”
The Level 4 Garment Technology course is ideal for those wanting to break into the Garment Tech field. If you’ve got a background in, or aptitude for, design and pattern cutting, you’ll fit in perfectly. As well as school leavers, this course is great for those wanting to set up their own fashion label.
Our industry projects, set by high street brands are also a key way to hone your skills in a “real-world”, practical way. Former student Lucy Gillian took part in a project which involved reviewing the fit of a man’s jacket. “It was such a valuable experience to see the jacket through all the production process. Being able to see a factory and all of the technology involved provided such an insight into the tailoring industry and to see a Best of British factory that is still going strong gave me a sense of pride.”
She also states that she gained a lot of technical knowledge from the project that she wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. “We learnt a lot about production techniques used, and as techs, this will help us to understand the process and make it possible to visualise the faults that could occur in this industry.”
Meet the Level 4 Garment Technology alumni
No one knows more about this course than our students – they’ve been there and done it all before! Our alumni have gone on to work for brands such as House of Fraser, New Look and ASOS. So what do they have to say about the course? Katherine Hyde graduated in 2014 and now works at House of Fraser. “The FRA has helped me by providing me with exciting opportunities such as meeting some of the key people within fashion retail, work placements and participating in industry projects. These experience have allowed me to begin my career and have enabled me to work with companies that I love.”
Nicole Shears graduated from the course in 2015 and now holds a position at ASOS. “The FRA introduced me to a range of opportunities such as work placements, industry projects and competitions linked to high-profile retailers throughout the year. This challenged me to think professionally and offered the chance to work with the companies I aspire to work for.”
Upon completion of your course, you’ll be applying for Assistant Garment Technologist or Technical Assistant roles, before moving on to Garment Technologist and Senior Garment Technologist positions.