What does an Associate Costume Designer do?

An Associate Costume Designer will work with and assist the Costume Designer to design the costumes for a show. They will support in making sure the costumes match the time period, the characters and the Director’s vision for the piece, as well as being practical for the Performer.

What are the main responsibilities of an Associate Costume Designer?

  • Collaborate with the Costume Designer 
  • Assist with the design development 
  • Create costume mockups and samples 
  • Draft technical drawings
  • Source fabrics and costumes 
  • Work with the production team 
  • Research the time period and setting of the play
  • Researching fashion in certain time periods and places

What qualifications do I need to be an Associate Costume Designer?

While you do not need a degree for this role, here are some useful subjects and courses that could help you get a head start in the industry:

  • Costume Design
  • Fine Art
  • Art and Design
  • Fashion
  • Dressmaking
  • Textiles

Find training opportunities in costume design from across the theatre industry here

What skills do I need to be an Associate Costume Designer?

  • Design skills 
  • Creativity 
  • Organisational skills
  • An eye for detail
  • A good understanding of costume and fashion history 
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Competent in sewing
  • Ability to work alone as well as with others
  • Ability to communicate and present your ideas

Always ensure you keep examples of your work. Read our blog 'How to make a Costume Design portfolio.'

What does a career as an Associate Costume Designer look like?

You may start as a Wardrobe Assistant and move into more senior roles such as Wardrobe Master/Mistress or Costume Supervisor, before then moving into Costume Design. Taking an internship or apprenticeship will help you gain relevant experience as well as network. Keeping a portfolio is crucial when showcasing your talent.

How much can an Associate Costume Designer earn?

Pay for a Costume Designer can vary depending on their level of experience. They can be in-house for theatres who produce their own work regularly, which would be a paid salary. However, it is likely that you will be freelance and design for a fee, which can vary based on the show scale and the company. For one production, 2024/2025 Equity rates suggest a Designer fee of £3133.13 and a weekly making fee of £613.84. Sometimes, and often for smaller scale productions, the Set and Costume Designer will be the same person. Associate Costume Designers are usually brought on for much larger scale productions, or when the Costume Designer needs to be absent for portions of the show. 

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less.

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 


Published: 3rd June 2024

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