How to start a career in fashion

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Anne Hathaway, 2006, TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection

By Guest Writer Annie Palmer

Starting a career in fashion can seem like a daunting prospect. You may be a school leaver, a recent graduate, or making a career switch to satisfy an unfulfilled passion. However, if you have the drive, creativity, right skills, and mindset, a fashion career is more attainable than you might think.

Here we look at the educational opportunities, career paths, and tips that will help you secure interviews and get your first job offer.

Choose a Fashion Career Path

A fashion designer is not the only role in the industry, so if design isn’t your forte, many other roles will allow you to work in one of the most exciting sectors. You can narrow down the career most suitable for you by first considering whether you want to work in fashion media, design, or business.

A few of the roles that fit within these categories include fashion model, pattern cutter, garment technologist, tailor, stylist, fashion buyer, costume designer, merchandiser, fashion writer, graphic designer, fashion marketer, event manager, public relations manager, studio manager, and many more.

Learn your craft

While some people are born a fashion prodigy, most need to learn the skills of the trade. Even if you have a natural flair for designing clothes, many other business skills are essential for finding success.

Learning opportunities range from short courses with a specific focus through to comprehensive foundation and advanced degrees. By partaking in fashion education, you will not only learn skills but meet like-minded individuals, build an understanding of how closely related fields overlap, and find opportunities to network with people in the industry.

Find work experience

Whether it is a fashion internship or volunteering for a local fashion business, experience is a valuable thing to have in your back pocket when applying for permanent jobs.

Partaking in work experience shows that you not only have the formal training for a fashion career but hands-on experience. You can flex your theoretical and practical skills in a real working environment and absorb knowledge from fashion workers and business owners.

If you need to earn while you learn, you might consider a fashion apprenticeship. An excellent alternative to university education, you can enrol on Level 2 (intermediate) and Level 3 (advanced) fashion and textile apprenticeships, which are equivalent to GCSEs and A levels.
You can specialise in apparel, leather goods, or footwear.

Alternatively, you could embark on a pattern cutter, sewing machinist, tailoring, studio assistant, or product technologist apprenticeship. You can leverage these academic achievements to find your first fashion job or use them as a stepping stone to meet the requirements for studying for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

Prepare your CV

Your CV is a sales pitch on paper that will either unlock the doors you want to open or keep them firmly shut. Your CV should include a personal statement, your education, work experience, and extracurricular activities that demonstrate your use of transferable skills.
Through the entirety of your CV, provide examples of how you have used the skills the fashion recruiter mentions in their job advert. Your examples give the evidence to back up any statement you make. If you are unsure where to get started putting a fashion CV together, view various CV templates for inspiration and guidance on the best format.

Get involved with fashion shows and competitions

Fashion shows and competitions will let you show off your talent if you are a stylist or fashion designer and help you get noticed. You could also volunteer to work for a regional or national event if you intend to work in a behind-the-scenes role.

Even as an audience member, networking opportunities are plentiful. Whether it is Graduate Fashion Week or the Clothes Show you will be in the company of industry professionals ranging from fashion bloggers to photographers, retailers, and designers.

Build your social media presence

An online social profile is a superb tool for showcasing your creative talents to the public and employers. Textile and apparel designers can show off their portfolio, while fashion writers can engage their audience with insights and opinions. If you intend to work freelance, a solid social media presence will be equally important.

Staying up to date with the latest industry news is vital. You can conduct research ahead of applying for a job, read interviews, discover employer profiles, find job opportunities, and learn when the next runway show or competition occurs.

Excellent resources include Drapers, Fashion United, Fashion Capital, Fashionista, Creative and Cultural Skills, and The British Fashion Council.

Remain persistent

The fashion industry is undoubtedly competitive, so don’t be put off if you don’t find immediate success. Every conversation and job interview is a learning experience, and the feedback you receive will heighten your chances of success next time. Sticking with it and staying active will lead to success and help you start a career in fashion.


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