Updated: Dec 16, 2019
For some reason everywhere I look online I see very general information about how to calculate your fashion design salary, because it gets complicated depending on the person.
WELL, let’s get complicated people!
I'm going to try and meet a wide range of needs and questions when it comes to calculating your freelance rate. LET'S GO!
1) What Are Your expenses?
You need to add up how much your life costs you, meaning everything from:
Rent, Food, Utilities & Other Bills
Holidays & Sick Days
Leisure, Entertainment & Miscellaneous (Gym, Movies, Jet Skiing…etc)
Let’s say you added all of that together and it comes to $60,000 per year.
8 billable work hours per day = 40 hours a week
4 weeks off for vacation, sick & personal days = 48 work weeks
40 hours/week × 48 weeks/year = 1,920 hours/year
$60,000 desired salary ÷ 1,920 hours = roughly $30 per hour
Ok… Are you ready for it…Now I want you to DOUBLE IT!!!
$30 per hour × 2 = $60 per hour (minimum fee...more on this in step 3)
Here’s why… We all know that freelancing doesn’t always provide a steady income and if you really need to make a living working as a fashion designer then you should plan your hourly rate as if you might not work for half of the year, because we all know that it’s possible to happen.
2) How long does it take you?
You should know exactly how long a project will take you, so you can estimate payments quickly and plan out your schedule. If you don’t know then you should do a few tests, and time yourself to find out.
Here's how long it takes me...
C.A.D. sketch = 30min - 3 hours (depending on the level of detail and whether or not I need to do a full color render of the garment).
Within this time frame I am also including the time it takes to think of the design idea and hand sketch a practice flat before doing it on the computer first.
30 minutes for a black and white t-shirt, panty, baby onesie, simple tank top etc…
1 - 3 hours for a color rendered detailed lingerie set, long detailed coat, etc…
Teck Pack = 1 - 3 hours (depending on how detailed the garment is and whether or not I need to make an original print/ pattern for the garment)
If you would like a reference as to what I mean by a tech pack, I offer a FREE TEMPLATE in my blog article (How to Make a Fashion Tech Pack)... CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE
Now, if you take a bit longer to do sketches and tech packs then I would work on improving your time…The best way to do that is to practice, practice, PRACTICE. You could take courses to get quick tips and improve your speed, but I feel like the best way to improve any skill is just practice.
WARNING: If it takes you 4 hours to make a C.A.D. sketch then that would cost the client $300
(if you are charging $60/hr) and this will probably be WAY too pricey for most clients.
3) What is a Design Worth?
So, as you may or may not realize… All designs are NOT created equal. A plain t-shirt isn’t worth as much as a detailed plus size non-padded wire bra. Also, a C.A.D. sketch isn’t worth as much as a technical package. This should ultimately be reflected in your pricing as well.
LOW VALUE: Let’s assume the T-Shirt takes you 30 minutes to sketch...You can charge your minimum fee of $30, since this is a "low value" item (in the eyes of your client)
HIGH VALUE: Now, let’s say the Bra takes you 2 hrs to sketch...Your minimum fee would be $120. However I think it would be very reasonable to mark up the price 25%, 50%, or even 100%. Because there is a very high level of skill needed to create a functional and beautiful bra, with complex construction details.
Don't forget that it has taken you years of practice to be able to do this kind of work in only 1 - 2 hours. So you should be compensated accordingly.