Duties and responsibilities
A product developer is responsible for developing fashionable goods for manufacturers and retailers. They plan, develop and present fashion-focused products for a specific market and they do this by working closely with the design team. The typical duties and responsibilities of a product developer include:
- Creating and enhancing clothing or accessories that fill a niche in the market and allow their clients to remain competitive
- Determining the specification for clothes and accessories according to a number of various factors (e.g., fashion trends, budget)
- Supporting manufacturing and design activities by developing prototypes for products in development
- Consulting market research materials and sales data to ensure that products are viable and competitive
- Submitting proposals and designs for evaluation by the project team and management before moving to the next stage
Generally speaking, most product developers will have a bachelors degree in fashion design or merchandising that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. They will then go on to gather experience in the clothing retail industry.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as relevant work experience in the retail industry, product developers will need skills and talents such as:
- Project management skills, as product developers need to ensure they can stick to product development timelines.
- Technology skills, as produce developers must be able to use CAD drawing software
- Artistic skills and creativity, as product developers need to be able to create visions and draw sketches
- Communication and interpersonal skills, as product developer need to be able to communicate instructions clearly to designers and managers
- Time management skills, as product developers often have tight deadlines to work towards and must be able to get things done on time
Product developers will normally work full time hours. Often, they will have tight deadlines to work towards and an unpredictable timeline, meaning they may often work long and erratic hours.
According to salary.com, the median annual wage for an Apparel Product Developer in the United States is $45,076. The lowest 10% earned less than $33,163 and the highest 10% earned over $53,063 per year.
When a product developer first starts their career, they will report to a manager. However, with more knowledge and experience, product developers will progress to become this manager. The product development mangers sits within the design and production departments of a fashion company and is responsible for managing a small team or product developers.