At 14, Gareth Pugh began working as a costume designer for the UK National Youth Theatre. He started his fashion education at City of Sunderland College and finished his degree in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins in 2003. Thereafter he interned with Rick Owens in Paris. His final collection at St. Martins, which used balloons to accentuate models' joints and limbs (a technique that would become one of his trademarks), attracted the attention of the senior fashion editor of Dazed & Confused magazine, who placed one of his designs on the magazine's cover.
Pugh was then selected to participate in British reality show 'The Fashion House' two months after his graduation, which he would later call "horrible" and his "only other option [to being on] the dole." The rise of !WOWOW!, a feature in Dazed & Confused, and a debut show at London club Kashpoint's Alternative Fashion Week brought Pugh to the attention of Fashion East, a "London's breeding ground for cutting-edge new talent," leading them to invite Pugh to participate in its Autumn 2005 group show. Pugh had only four weeks, with no studio, no assistants, and little money, to create the collection. But his collection ended up a critical success and attracted significant attention to his designs.
Pugh's solo premiere was in London's Fall 2006 fashion week; he has since showed his Spring 2007 and Autumn 2007 collections there. Pugh's shows have continued to draw critical praise. British Vogue, for instance, called his Spring 2007 collection "an incredible, unmissable show" and said that "his genius is undeniable." Anna Wintour of American Vogue is a notable supporter of Pugh's designs.
Kylie Minogue has used many of Pugh's designs over the recent years, most famously in her Showgirl - The Greatest Hits Tour and Showgirl - The Homecoming Tour. Róisín Murphy recently appeared flamboyantly sporting one of Pugh's distinctive outfits in the videoclip promoting her 2007 album Overpowered and on the cover of her single Let Me Know, and on other occasions. Minogue has been seen wearing the same dress in her 2008 video for her single In My Arms. Beyoncé wore Pugh at the MTV Europe Awards in 2008, and for her Diva video. Singer Lady Gaga wore a jacket designed by Pugh at the Wango Tango concert in 2009, another piece on X Factor and most recently to her ARTPOP premier at ArtRave. Ashlee Simpson wore a leather and clear plastic striped Gareth Pugh dress in her video "Outta My Head."
Pugh was awarded the prestigious ANDAM Fashion Award in 2008. In 2010, he opened his first boutique in Hong Kong. And in 2014, the fashion journalist and stylist Katie Grand was invited by the Fashion Museum, Bath, to select an outfit to represent that year in their Dress of the Year collection. She chose one of Gareth Pugh's ensembles, a wrapped outfit in calico and plastic sheeting. Pugh has partnered with Rick Owens and Michele Lamy, who hold a 49% interest in Gareth Pugh's firm. The husband and wife team now fund all of his collection development, production and marketing.