Personalised for LOCAL students.
Local student means; you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent humanitarian visa holder.
Personalised for INTERNATIONAL students.
International student means; you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent humanitarian visa holder.

This Stage Life: Pursuing a Career in Costume Design

Costume designer cutting fabric
Costume designers must have a deep understanding of the production's characters, themes, and setting to create costumes that enhance the overall story.

Do you have an eye for detail and a love for the performing arts? If so, a career in costume design might be the perfect fit for you.

A career in costume design can be a fulfilling and rewarding path for those with a passion for fashion and the performing arts. In this blog, we'll explore how to become a costume designer in Australia.

What does a costume designer do?

A costume designer is responsible for creating and designing costumes for theatre, film, television, and other productions. They work closely with directors, producers, and actors to create costumes that not only look visually stunning but also fit the production's tone and style.

Costume designers must have a deep understanding of the production's characters, themes, and setting to create costumes that enhance the overall story. They research and create sketches, select fabrics, and work with a team to create and fit costumes. They also need to stay within the budget and adhere to the creative vision of the production.

What career paths are available to costume designers?

Costume designers have a range of career paths to choose from, depending on their interests and skills. This includes working in film, television, theatre, and the performing arts.

Some costume designers work freelance and take on projects as they come, while others work as part of a theatre or film production company. Some costume designers also work in other areas of the fashion industry, such as designing costumes for dance and opera productions.

Here are a few of the career paths available:

Theatre costume designer

Theatre is one of the most common career paths for costume designers. In the theatre world, costume designers work on creating costumes for actors and actresses to wear for live theatre productions, including plays, musicals, operas, ballet, and other performances.

A theatre costume designer is responsible for designing and creating costumes that bring the characters to life on stage. It is a highly collaborative role that requires excellent communication and teamwork skills.

Film and television costume designer

Film and television costume designers work on designing and creating costumes for actors and actresses in movies, TV shows, and commercials. They work closely with the director, production designer, and other creative professionals to develop a cohesive look for each character and ensure that the costumes fit the style of the production.

Costume designers in this field need to be able to work under tight deadlines and manage a large team of costume makers.

Freelance costume designer

If you prefer a flexible work schedule, freelance costume designing could be the perfect fit for you. Freelance costume designers work on a project-by-project basis and can work for multiple clients on various projects. They can work in any number of industries, creating costumes for a variety of productions, from theatre to film to theme parks.

Freelancing is a great way to gain experience and build your portfolio. However, it also requires excellent time management and marketing skills to build a successful career.

Fashion designer

Costume design and fashion design are closely related, and many costume designers eventually transition into the fashion industry. As a fashion designer, you will create clothing and accessories for retail stores, fashion houses, or your own brand. This career path requires strong design skills, knowledge of the latest trends, and excellent business acumen.

Wardrobe supervisor

A wardrobe supervisor is responsible for overseeing the maintenance and organisation of costumes in theatre, film, television, or other productions. They manage a team of costume technicians, ensuring that costumes are clean, repaired, and ready for each performance. This role requires excellent organisational and leadership skills.

How to become a costume designer in Australia?

Whether you choose to work in theatre, film, fashion, theme parks, or as a freelancer, there are plenty of opportunities for costume designers in Australia. And with the growing popularity of cosplay and other costume-based events, there may be even more opportunities in the future.

To become a costume designer in Australia, formal training in fashion or costume design is typically required. Many universities and TAFE institutions offer courses in costume design, which can provide students with the technical and creative skills necessary for the role.

Experience in the industry is also essential, and internships or apprenticeships can provide valuable opportunities for hands-on learning and networking with professionals in the industry. Many costume designers start as assistants and work their way up through the industry.

Becoming a costume designer requires a combination of education, training, and experience. Here are some steps you can take to build a career in costume design:

Get a degree in a costume design

Pursuing a degree in costume design, fashion design, or theatre production can give you a solid foundation in the skills and techniques needed for a career in costume design.

Gain experience in the costume department

Volunteering at local theatre companies or participating in student productions can help you gain valuable experience and build a portfolio of work.

Build a portfolio

Creating a portfolio of your work, including sketches and designs, can showcase your skills and creativity to potential employers.


Attending industry events, joining professional organisations, and connecting with other costume designers can help you build connections and gain insights into the industry.

Why is pursuing a career in costume design worth it?

Costume design is a highly creative field that requires a unique blend of artistry, technical skill, and historical knowledge. It is an exciting career path that offers a wealth of opportunities for those who are passionate about bringing stories to life through clothing.

Here are some reasons why pursuing a career in costume design is worth it:

Creative Expression

Costume designers have the unique opportunity to express their creativity through clothing. They get to design and create costumes that tell a story, evoke emotion, and enhance the overall production. Costume design is an art form, and it provides a platform for designers to showcase their creativity.

Diverse Range of Opportunities

Costume designers are in demand in a variety of industries, including film, television, theatre, fashion, and even theme parks. This means that there are many different paths a costume designer can take in their career, allowing them to explore different areas and find the perfect fit.

Collaborative Work

Costume designers often work closely with directors, producers, actors, and other designers. This collaborative environment allows for creative input from multiple perspectives and provides opportunities for learning and growth.

Historical and Cultural Education

Costume designers must have a deep understanding of historical and cultural clothing styles to create authentic costumes for period productions. This research and understanding of history can be incredibly rewarding and can enhance one's appreciation of other cultures and time periods.

Job Satisfaction

Costume designers get to see their work come to life on stage, on screen, or in fashion, which can be incredibly fulfilling. The knowledge that their work is an integral part of the storytelling process and the success of a production can be a source of great pride and satisfaction.

Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services CUA50420 (Costume) is a hands-on course that will prepare you for employment in costume design and costume making within theatre, film and television - as well as in the broader clothing and fashion industries.