One of the most glamorized jobs in the fashion world has to be the fashion designer. After all, they are the ones whose names are seen in bright lights across every fancy shop front, emblazoned in shiny gold letters on exquisite leather bags or sewn onto the tags of luxurious dresses. They set the tone for the fashionistas, churning out defining looks that, once released onto the runway, soon find their way down the fashion chain into the everyday person’s wardrobe. However, to get to that level is definitely no easy feat, and today we are delighted to share with you an interview with the key women’s sportswear design director of Tommy Bahama, Dominic Sabella.
Who He Is:
Dominic Sabella, the Design Director of Women’s Sportswear at Tommy Bahama. A self-described explorer, Dominic is one who is on a constant search to learn new things. “As a creative, I think that is one of the most important qualities that any designer can have. In this day and age, it is what keeps you relevant in your career as what keeps the creativity fresh.”
What made you decide to work in the fashion industry?
It was not a decision; it was something that I have always known that I would do since I was a very small child. There was never any question about what my career path would be.
Rate on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest) on how you find…
The working hours: 5
The glamour: 1
The money: I think this depends where you are in your career, what area of fashion design you are in, what city you work in. When you start, I can safely say that the money is OK, which is why I always tell people who ask me about going into fashion, that they need to truly have a passion and love for it.
Describe briefly the career progression (if any).
I would describe my career progress as a pretty steady and normal one. I started as an assistant designer, and after a few years of hard work, I was offered a job as a designer, and then promoted to senior designer. After a few years as a senior designer, I received an offer to be a Design Director for a new line that was being launched. I have now been a design director for 10 years.
Sum up your job in 3 words.
Multi-dimensional, fast, amazing.
Describe a typical working day for you.
I don’t feel that I have a typical day. Each day is different and each day brings new surprises and challenges. There are days whereby my day is more creative, and there are days where it gets more technical. Everyday, there is a business and management aspect involved. Then, there are days where it is all of the above and then some.
What would you be doing on a non-working day?
On my days off, I like to relax, enjoy time with friends (whether entertaining at home or elsewhere). Museums, galleries, book stores, vintage shopping are also always on the top of my to-do list on days off because I always find lots of inspiration there.
What are the top 3 things you need in this job?
The ability to multi task, the capability of being a team player and a deep love for what you do.
Best and worst bits of your job.
The best is when working with guests at our stores, and helping them achieve a better sense of confidence just from trying something new.
The worst is that our industry is not an exact science, and sometimes you have no control of what might happen. This is especially true in garment production.
What skills/educational qualifications do you need?
Knowledge and understanding of technical design and pattern making.
Great communication skills, and understanding of research and development .
The ability to be a team player, having great computer skills especially in programs such as Photoshop/illustrator and In Design, and attention to detail.
What can one expect at the start of this job?
Long hours, lots of learning the process and ins and outs of the business.
What type of people would be suited for this job?
I think you have to be someone who like constant movement, someone who can switch gears at a moment’s notice. Also, someone who is a self starter and does not wait to be told what to do.
Any advice for people who would like to try out this line?
Make sure that you love it and have a deep passion for it, if you want to have a fruitful career in the industry.
Image credits thanks to Tommy Bahama.