A technical designer is one of the team of people who work to bring a garment from an idea in a designer's head to a finished product on the rack. Technical designers are usually graduates of schools with programs in fashion design and sometimes specifically hold certifications in technical design. The work requires a diverse set of skills. One of the best ways to describe the technical designer is as the person who acts as a liaison between the designer at the fashion house and the factory where the garments are made.
The technical designer works with the designer to discuss an idea for a garment and a patternmaker to develop patterns. Technical designers are concerned with fit, taking flat measurements and adjusting patterns so that completed garments will fit in the way intended. This information is used to provide guidance to the factory so that it can produce garments to specification. Many people start out in subordinate positions to acquire experience and gradually take on more job responsibilities before becoming full fledged technical designers.
Technical designers must keep up with fashion trends so that they help their employers produce finished products that fit in a way that is currently fashionable. They also need to have a good sense of textiles in order to understand how different fibers fit, drape, and behave once they are sewn. Understanding of patternmaking is critical, as is a good aesthetic eye. Technical designers also need good communications skills because they are points of contact for many important people in the design process.
When factories produce the first mockups from patterns sent by the designers, the technical designer is involved in checking the garments to confirm that they look as intended and making any adjustments to the specifications if necessary. Technical designers tend to be responsible for the sizing and fit of entire lines. This is why clothing from the same company tends to have consistent fit and sizing characteristics.
Not all fashion houses use technical designers. In some cases, a designer, pattern maker, and spec technician will work together to develop patterns and specifications for production without a technical designer. Large companies and companies dealing with overseas producers are more inclined to use the services of a technical designer to streamline the process, however. It can help to have foreign language skills, as sometimes conversations with overseas producers may require translation, although proficiency in multiple languages is not necessarily required from a technical designer.