There is a colourful spectrum of fashion careers out there. Jobs can vary from brand directors, designers, to garment technologists, buyers, merchandisers, marketers and journalists. Each role can differ dramatically from the next, but all are sown together through the intricate stitching of fashion. If you’ve recently graduated with a fashion related degree or simply have a love for fashion, here’s a run down of some top tips so you can land the perfect job within the industry! If you’re still a student you might want to read more on how to kick start your fashion career while in university.
It’s sometimes easier said then done, but this is a key starting point. Design, visual merchandising and buying are completely different after all. Decide what you feel most enthusiastic about and where your skills and personality lie. For instance it will be tough to get into fashion design without a good BA in womenswear, print, menswear, knit, textiles etc. Without excellent drawing and other technical skills, you might struggle to get into a design department, so essential to know where your skills lie.
As today’s job market is so competitive gaining experience through internships is now the most regular route for those pursuing a career in fashion. There are so many fashion students graduating each year and there are only so many jobs. However, starting internships early during your studies can help you establish good relationships and connections.
It’s important to bear in mind that quality of experience counts for much more than quantity. Ask yourself whether the companies that you want to intern with are going to teach you skills that are relevant to your future career goals? Make a ‘target list’ of companies you think your style would suit, and ones that you think would be right fit for you. That way you will be more of an asset to them, and you’ll have much more chance of landing a job at the end of it.
Before you apply for placements, try to find out as much as you can about the culture of the company – whether it’s asking people who already work there, suppliers, manufacturers, looking at blogs and customer comments.
Often a lot of students/graduates look for internships with well-known companies that often don’t pay. On the other hand there are a host of small boutiques and independent designers who are looking for help, and this can be an amazing starting point as you are given more responsibility and ultimately gain more hands-on experience. The ideal would be to find a company that sits somewhere between the two.
At the beginning of your career it is important to be able to communicate well and not be shy in approaching businesses or contacts to start the networking process. Fashion is a very social industry and as well as studying it, getting out there and making yourself known and seen by the people can count. Join networking sites such as Linked in, Fashion Industry Network, Fashion United just to name a few. Remember that not all graduate design roles will be advertised, as most companies are looking to save money on advertising and recruitment. Therefore, lots of employers will consider utilizing their own contacts and direct applications. Apply to some fashion recruitment agencies. There are over 20 in the UK alone. Not all of them take on graduates, but try them all anyway.
A good portfolio that shows an understanding of the job you are applying for is key. Join as many portfolio sites as you can to get your work seen. Good ones are Artsthread, Coroflot, and StylePortfolios.
It is a hugely competitive market place out there, but those that are truly passionate about fashion should not be deterred to follow their dream career. You definitely need to be resilient though. For example, if you want to work in design, but lack certain skills and a relevant degree, you could try for a position as PA (secretary) to senior designer or creative director, or in the fabric & accessories research/buying department, or collection management office. Any foot in the door is better than none. Retail is another good avenue to get into the industry, and is a great way to work you way up from the bottom, especially if you want to go pursue a career in buying. If you feel that you lack the qualifications that should not necessarily mean giving up!
It’s important to separate yourself from the pack. What are you strengths? What have you achieved? Be sure to know your strengths and how to vent your passion for the industry. Enter competitions, or take on any opportunities; be it dressing backstage at a fashion show, helping organise events, or helping out smaller companies a few days a week. Employers will see all of this as an enthusiasm for your chosen career and a determination to pursue it, as well as boosting your CV to stand out against your competitors.
Featured image: Mainstream