Design & Architecture

Hat Designer or Milliner

Hat designers or milliners use their creative skills to design hats.

  • Entry-level education

    VET qualification

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Hat Designer or Milliner do?

Hat designers or milliners use their creative skills to design hats. They may create unique hand-made hats or design hats to be mass produced for fashion shops or department stores.


Work activities

As a hat designers or milliner, you would design hats to be made up in a factory or create hats from your own designs.

Your tasks may vary depending on which area you work in. On a day-to-day basis you could:

  • take a brief from a client or company
  • sketch designs to match or interpret the brief, either by hand, or by using computer software
  • make up prototype designs
  • meet with clients to take measurements and arrange fittings
  • estimate costs for materials and manufacturing
  • liaise with suppliers of fabric, trimmings, leather, straw and artificial flowers
  • hand make your hats using techniques like ‘blocking’ to shape the hat
  • supervise hat production in the factory, or hand make hats in your workroom
  • keep up with trends in fabrics, colours or shapes.

As a self-employed milliner you might need to market your hats through shops or other retail outlets.


Key skills and interests

To become a hat designer or milliner, you would need:

  • creativity
  • a good eye for shape and colour
  • an understanding of how to best use different materials and accessories
  • hat-making (millinery) knowledge and skills
  • an understanding of production processes
  • to follow fashion trends and incorporate them into your designs.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

If you are employed by a company you would probably work a regular number of hours per week.

If you are self-employed your working hours may be more irregular and depend on the number of customers you have. You may have to work overtime to meet deadlines around special occasions or events.


You would usually work in a studio or workshop. You might also have to travel to visit manufacturers, exhibitions and trade shows.


How to become an Hat Designer or Milliner?

Entry Level Education

To become a hat designer or milliner you usually have to complete a VET qualification in millinery. This type of course may be available through distance education.

You can also become a hat designer by completing a traineeship in millinery. As this is a small and specialised occupation, it would be worthwhile contacting relevant companies and designers to ask about possible ways to enter this occupation.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of designers across all areas of fashion is projected to decline somewhat.

Most apparel continues to be produced internationally, and as a result, employment of fashion designers, including hat designers, in the apparel manufacturing industry has declined strongly.

However, designers will still be needed to design for the mass market and everyday wear. In addition, hat designers will continue to be needed to create one-off designs for special events and occasions.


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