Each year hundreds of thousands of students are graduating with fashion-related degrees.
Regardless of whether they are interested in garment technology, pattern design, fashion photography or fashion marketing and PR, there are numerous courses offered worldwide to people with ambitions to study and join the fashion industry.
If you're one of them and dreaming of becoming the next Stella McCartnеy, John Galliano, Jimmy Choo or the next Anna Wintour, it may look to you like it is such a big industry that there is room for everyone.
After all, it is a $1.2 trillion global industry and is currently valued at approximately $359 billion in USA alone.
Range of Jobs in the Fashion Industry
|Fashion Merchandising||Fashion Designer||Clothing Pattern Maker||Fashion Sales Rep||Accessories Designer|
|Product Manager||Showroom Sales Rep||Pattern Grader||Costume Designer||Fashion Designer|
|Assistant Fashion Designer||Fashion Illustrator||Sample Maker||Shoe Designer||Lingerie Designer|
|Pattern Maker||Textile Artist||Fashion Buyer||Visual Merchandise||Fashion Coordinator|
|Boutique Owner||Retail Merchandiser||Fashion Photographer||Fashion PR Specialist||Fashion Illustrator|
|Fashion Writer||Graphic Designer||Fashion Director||Fashion Photographer||Costume Designer|
|Fashion Runway Model||Personal Stylist||Account Executive||Apparel Business Owner||Buyer Fashion|
|Children's Clothing Designer||Computer Aided Designer||Costume Designer||Embroidery Designer||Fashion Colorist|
|Fashion Designer||Fashion Director||Assistant Fashion Designer||Fabric Librarian||Fashion Forecaster|
|Fashion Illustrator||Fashion House Manager||Retail Salesperson||Fashion PR Specialist||Catalogue Model|
Breaking into the fashion industry can be notoriously difficult for newly qualified graduates and young self-taught designers due to the high number of students graduating each year and the competitive nature of this business.
No matter which of these positions you're going to apply for, if you receive an interview you'll most probably be asked what kind of experience you have in that position. If you recently graduated or are still studying, you might be wondering how to acquire this initial experience and how to build a solid career in the fashion industry.
We're happy to say there is no one right way – there are many stories of how successful fashion professionals did this. In any case planning careers in fashion helps both students and other individuals interested in entering the fashion industry to prepare for their future prosperous careers.
This guide to careers in fashion is essential if you wish to have one too.
Finding fashion work experience
Yes, a completed or pending fashion degree looks great on your resume, yet a fashion degree is not compulsory. That said, studying can provide the all important “toe in the water” for fashion related work placement experience.
Most courses are designed in a way that a student must spend at least a few weeks or months applying practical work during or after their classes so they're able to graduate.
Get your own experience
Another way is to apply and obtain a longer paid internship in a fashion company on your own. Most reputable organizations will have advertisements and application forms on the career section on their website.
It will increase your chances of getting one if you have at least few months of basic prior working experience such as working in a clothes retail store or have assisted stylings such as at weddings or other functions, even if they were your friends.
How to get the most out of work experience
Once you get a work placement or an internship, make sure you get the most of it by doing the following:
Set goals – even before starting the work experience, set goals for yourself of what you wish to learn and achieve by the time you complete your work experience placement or internship.
Ask questions – don’t be shy and don’t keep quiet, use every opportunity to ask the seasoned people working around you why they do things in a certain way.
Whether your work experience is at a fashion show, retailer or assisting a wardrobe stylist remember they're probably busy at work so be tactful, don't:
- For example, if you're assisting on a photo shoot, there is a lot of down-time while the model is getting their hair and make-up ready, so:
- Observe set producers while they're placing the props
- Ask questions to other staff members, such as, lighting technicians after they've set the lights
Do everything – be an all-rounder, and learn the business side of the fashion industry while practising your technical skills. As a fashion intern working in the mail room one day, then assisting the accountant the next day will teach you the commercial aspects of the fashion business as well.
Start small – if you don't have much experience, apply for placement in a small fashion organization, retailer, talent agency or magazine. This will help you will gain the confidence to apply or transfer to a bigger placement at a later stage.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Don’t expect that your employer will be teaching you the basic terminology used in modelling or in fashion magazines. You need to ensure you know the meaning of phrases such as “comp cards”, “time for prints” and “buyouts”.
Writing a fashion resume
A fashion resume is different from a standard resume as it the first piece of your creative work on which your creative skills will be judged. Your fashion resume should not include anything that is not related to fashion but should detail all the work you have completed.
Include your fashion related certificates and even any memberships to professional organizations. If you have any, it's important to put the details of your social media channels dedicated to fashion (for example, YouTube, Pinterest, personal blog, etc.).
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
If you're applying for an international fashion brand – make sure you include all the languages and countries you have lived in / travelled extensively as it shows your cross-cultural understanding of different fashion trends around the world.
To compliment your resume, add a link to your online portfolio which reveals your specialization - such as menswear, swimwear, bridalwear, red carpet dresses.
But also have a physical portfolio ready to take with you in case you're called to an interview – it is very important to have physical evidence of the work you have done.
For example, if you're a designer then have the best designs or if you're a model scouter utilize photos of models you have already scouted.
Here are a few resume examples within the industry:
- Textile Designer Resume Sample
- Textile Colorist Resume Sample
- Assistant Textile Designer Resume Sample
Job search advice
In addition to all advice that applies to job-hunting in general for any work position, there is some advice that is specific to the fashion industry, such as:
Stylish interview outfit – after your killer fashion resume gets you a job interview, then prepare a killer outfit for when you go to the interview. You must put style in your outfit, so don’t wear the classic interview outfit. Even if you're on a low budget you can buy one stylish outfit and take it to different interviews.
Take initiative – if there is a fashion stylist you admire, email them a personalized email asking them how they got started in the fashion industry. Also email fashion magazines and ask them if you can volunteer there.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Instead of applying for jobs to your favourite brands’ website, find people on LinkedIn who are employed as the organization's HR and directly send them your email, this personal touch can go a long way.
We can't stress enough to keep reaching out to people until you get what you want, never give up and if rejected always request feedback as to why, so you can improve for next time.
Start vlogging – document your daily styling or styling other people by recording a video and publishing it online.
Here are several examples of young fashion Vloggers absolutely doing well on Youtube:
Zoella – British Zoella started her YouTube channel at 22 years old, and now has over 11 million subscribers worldwide!
Beauty Bitten – Anne at Beauty Bitten focuses on DIY outfits and fashion hacks.
LaMadelynn – Think niche. That's what Madelynn did by starting a Vlog that focuses on sustainable fashion.
An example of LaMadelynn's Vlog:
Launch your own collection – you might think this is expansive but Molly Goddard – a new UK designer who is a promoter of presentations instead of the catwalk runway, hosted her first fashion show as a party in her town hall and got friends to wear her clothes. The uniqueness of her pieces attracted press and buyers came in. Now Molly is building an international fashion career.
Work in retail – so you can study different body shapes and learn how to style them, as well as feel and see different types of fabrics. Work in a fashion retail store – even if it is not your desirable job and do your best as people will notice you. It's not unheard of for a manager or a colleague to recommend employees to a better paid fashion job somewhere else.
Volunteer – it doesn’t matter if you're volunteering in the costume-making department in theatres, operas or ballets as any exposure to garments, fabrics and sewing will pay off later if you're aiming for a fashion designing career.
Critique – follow and review various fashion social media platforms and evaluate how they can enhance (or devalue) your personal brand and sense of style.
When it comes to networking some people, especially introverts, might find it difficult and daunting to do. That said, but without networking they might be left thinking that the fashion industry is all glitz and glamor and never find out the huge amount of commitment and hard work it takes to succeed in it.
VelvetJobs Expert Tip
Even if you're an introvert, you must get your name out there – by attending fashion events, writing fashion-related blogs, or even entering a TV reality show.
If you're studying fashion design and there's a Graduate Fashion Week in your area it is a must that you participate as it will most probably be attended by talent scouts and lots of press will cover it.
Enter various fashion competitions and apply for fashion funds or fashion awards – some are monetary but some have internships or even mentorships as rewards.
You could also do fashion hosting and freelance styling – all are ways to meet new people in the fashion industry as you never know who is going to contact you later for an interview to your dream fashion job.
Offline job resources
Magazines - while keeping abreast of mainstream styles is important, consider how you can also disrupt the industry with your own alternative spins on the status quo. Mark out particular pages as reference points.
Buy books - such as “The Fashion Book: New and Expanded Edition” by Phaidon Editors – covering almost 200 years of fashion history packed with profiles of designers, photographers, style icons, models, and retailers.
Mentors - Always have in mind that mentors are the best resources not just for advice on professional development but also for connecting you with their already established networks within the fashion industry.
Online fashion resources
There are many online resources designed to help fashion graduates and others aspiring to join the fashion industry. Some of them are:
Useful websites for fashion history – to improve your knowledge of fashion history and to learn all the major cultural references research the many websites listed on this link containing information about the historical development of fashion.
How to create a fashion portfolio – a YouTube video by a fashion designer (graduate from Parsons the New School of Design in New York) explaining in detail how to make the best portfolio to promote you to your next employer.
Free Fashion Internships– if you're looking for a fashion internship and you're US-based or wish to be moving to the USA soon then you must check out this website, even if you're still studying at this moment.
VelvetJobs Fashion Jobs – Our own job search engine dedicated to fashion related jobs, tens of thousands to choose from.
Fashion United – for people who are looking for fashion jobs or other challenges in the American fashion industry.
Fashion & Lifestyle Industry Professionals Worldwide – the largest LinkedIn group of fashion industry professionals for networking, discussing business associations, sharing knowledge, exploring job opportunities and seeking career advice.
Cosmetics, Beauty, and Fashion Job Opportunities – another LinkedIn group for those looking to for "those looking to find and contact other members on LinkedIn in the Cosmetics, Fashion, and Beauty Industries who are looking for employment or who have job opportunities to offer".
While you're at University majoring in a fashion-related subject you're in many respects still within a bubble possibly unaware of the wide range of opportunities and challenges existing in this industry.
As there is no textbook route on how to get started in the fashion industry, sometimes being in the right place at the right time and exploiting that moment can help you achieve that breakthrough you desire.
We hope this guide helps you start thinking of the exciting paths and opportunities available to you providing the basic tools you need to embark on careers in fashion.
No matter if you have the creativity and vision to launch your own clothing line, or the business skills and the marketing know-how to sell the latest trends, if you live, eat, and breathe fashion – there is a place for you in the fashion industry.