Is your dream job working in the fashion industry?
OK, so you’re obsessed with the latest trends, you know exactly what’s ‘in’, and your day isn’t over until you’ve checked what your favourite fashion icon is wearing. And when it comes to style, you’ve been there, done that, and bought the one-of-a-kind t-shirt. But how do you take your passion for fashion to the next level and bag your dream job?
Here are some careers to consider in the fashion industry and some of our top tips to help you get there:
What they do: Design in-store displays, including windows, to promote the products or overall image of a business. If you’ve ever walked past the window display of a big high-street retailer or an exhibition stand and instantly been drawn in, you’ve got a Visual Merchandiser to thank/blame.
What you need: A natural flair for colour and design, creativity and attention to detail. Degree not essential.
What you can earn: Entry level is around £15,000, rising to around £24,000 once fully qualified and experienced.
Perfect for: People who like to make things look pretty.
Our advice: If you’re not successful applying directly for Visual Merchandising positions, you can gain experience in other ways. Working in retail is a great way to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and, for smaller stores, you may get the chance to show off your own skills, which could help set you apart when the right position comes up.
What they do: Select a range of products to sell in retail outlets, taking into consideration customer buying habits, price, quality, market trends and a host of other factors. Buyers need to be whole seasons ahead in terms of what’s hot and what’s not (looking at swimwear in the middle of a snowstorm is not uncommon) and keep their business as relevant and on-trend as possible.
What you need: Excellent commercial awareness and the ability to anticipate what people will want before they know themselves.
What you can earn: A Junior or Assistant Buyer will make around £14,000 when they start the position. However, with a proven track record of success, it’s not uncommon to earn £30,000+, especially when working for a premium brand.
Perfect for: People who consider themselves trendsetters.
Our advice: Keep up-to-date with the latest trends, not to mention any fashion industry news and design developments. You need to know what the next big thing will be to be ahead of the game. Be prepared to say ‘that’s so last year’ a lot. And mean it.
What they do: Design clothing and fashion ranges, from the initial sketching phase through to managing the logistics, often overseeing the project until production has finished. They may specialise in one particular type of garment or design for one demographic, and can work anywhere – from a ready-to-wear independent clothes store to a high-street giant.
What you need: Passion for fashion and originality to set your designs apart. Key design skills also include pattern cutting, sewing and the ability to create mood boards or create designs digitally.
What you can earn: Varies greatly depending on experience and employer. Smaller or boutique brands may begin pay at around £24,000, but this can easily raise to £50,000+ (and over hundreds of thousands) when you’ve built a reputation with the right pieces.
Perfect for: People who have a great idea of their individual sense of style.
Our advice: Apply for internships wherever you can. Start using them to learn the essential skills you need to get ahead but may not have considered and discover more about the production process. Once you’ve started, begin compiling a portfolio of your own designs to take to interviews.
Marketing & PR
What they do: It’s their job to sell the business and its products. This can include writing press releases, staging shows, obtaining reviews, specifying print promotions, managing social media accounts and a host of other savvy media methods to help create a buzz about the brand.
What you need: Ideally a degree in marketing or advertising. A friendly and outgoing nature, as well as excellent interpersonal skills, should be considered pre-requisites.
What you can earn: Entry level roles as a Marketing or PR Assistant pay somewhere in the region of £18,000, depending on location. However, this will quickly rise as you build up a good bank of contacts.
Perfect for: People who have the gift of the gab.
Our advice: It’s all about networking. Having connections to prominent bloggers, editors and journalists will definitely help you get ahead and impress prospective employers. It may be an old cliché, but for Marketing and PR roles in fashion, ‘who you know’ can really count.
What they do: Write about all things fashion, ranging from product reviews and catwalk coverage through to interviews with up-and-coming designers. This could be specifically for a fashion magazine, a fashion feature for another publication, a brands website or all of the above on a freelance basis.
What you need: Outstanding copywriting skills, creativity and excellent interpersonal skills. A journalism or creative writing degree would be advantageous, but is by no means the only way into the industry.
What you can earn: Initial salary may range between around £15,000 and £20,000 depending on the publication. You could also work in a freelance capacity and charge per article (upwards of a hundred pounds per article, depending size of employer and word count).
Perfect for: People who like to write… and write… and write… (Well, you get the picture).
Our advice: If you don’t have a blog, set one up right now. Not only will this allow you to perfect you craft, it’s also the perfect way to maintain an online presence. As soon as the right role comes up, include a link to your blog in your CV and the hiring manager instantly gets to see what you can do. And once you gain a good following, brands often send bloggers fashionable freebies to review. It’s win win.
Here are some of our top tips for finding a job in the fashion industry:
- Keep up with (and ahead of) the latest trends – Whether it’s through following industry leaders on social media, checking in with recent fashion news, or simply keeping up-to-date with what’s in store.
- Have an online presence – Creating a blog that highlights anything from the latest fashion trends to your creative ability (e.g. examples of your work) is a great way to make your enthusiasm and expertise known to recruiters.
- Apply for internships – Not only will this experience set you apart from the crowd and demonstrate dedication, it’ll also teach you the valuable skills you need to progress upwards in the fashion industry.
- Be focused – Where do you want your career to take you? What job do you want to be doing? ‘I want to work in the fashion industry’ isn’t enough to give you a clear direction.
- Be persistent – This industry is extremely competitive and rejections are natural. Most importantly, don’t take them to heart and keep at it. Because good careers never go out of fashion…
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