Up until relatively recently, designers had to typically find official employment, working for someone else, usually a larger design firm or label. Their individual names were disguised by the monolithic name of the designer label. Such things still exist now, as any fashion house is actually a microcosm of many people coordinating operations in something that is deceiving in its simplicity. Within the last couple of years, there appears to have been more independent designers than ever before.
What does independent mean exactly? Well, the answer relates a lot to Finnigan's search for a distinction between a professional and an amateur. These independent designers do not work for a company, but perhaps form their own. Many of independent brand their own professional identities, and own a sort of distinctive style. This presents their work as professional and conceptually developed, rather than an un-unified body of work, and gives it more standing, prestige and chance for market success. Independent designers may present a unified concept, but the majority of designers do not have their own brands. Some do not have their own brands, and their work is highly variable and is based upon commissions and individual circumstances. Still 'independent' designers occupy this middle space of not being 'professionals' nor 'amateurs'.