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Career Guide: Jobs in the Fashion Industry

Looking for a job is no easy task; especially when it’s a creative profession you’re after. These vary from writing to making music and designing. When it comes to fashion, though, job hunting may turn out to be even harder. The industry is not as accepting or forgiving as other businesses are and you’ll definitely need to be extra patient if you want to make this work.

But most importantly, you’ll need to explore and appreciate all available options. At first glance, it might seem as if there are very few opportunities and not much hope, unless you’re a fashion journalist, a model or a designer. But worry not, because there are infinite ways to step foot in the industry -even if that foot is not attached to a super tall leg!

So here are some of the careers you can opt for to make the best of your talents and thrive in the glamorous world of fashion:

Model

The first word that comes to mind when you think of fashion is modeling. Although few people really have what it takes to be a model, it’s ok if you’re not as good as Gisele! Starting small is probably the best advice for any type of job; but especially in this case, the rule is golden. I’m not a modeling expert myself, so I wouldn’t know the exact steps one should take but I can assure you there are ways to do it.

First of all, if you’re studying towards a fashion-related degree, you’ll definitely find ads of students looking for models through your university’s forum. This would be the easiest way to start; a student who’d like you to pose for their project would certainly be less demanding than a fashion editor or a photographer. The important part here is that you begin building your lookbook so that future recruiters get a glimpse into your work.  But even if you’re not studying something relevant and would like to pursue modeling as a hobby on the side of anything else, you can start looking for vacancies on websites like Fashion Workie where there are opportunities for less experienced models.

These jobs may be unpaid at first, but still, they’ll give you the chance to create a lookbook as well as fill up your contacts book. PR is crucial in fashion because, who knows? A scout may discover you and turn you into the next top model without you even lifting a finger! (By the way, I don’t know if a talent show like Next Top Model would actually work, but if you’re up for the challenge, why not give that a try as well?) So attend as many fashion events as you can and mingle!

Last but not least, it’s worth checking out modeling schools which will provide you with great training and hopefully some valuable contacts.

Fashion Designer

This is where imagination meets technical knowledge and talent. Looks will obviously get you nowhere near a fashion designer job; most people are born with a talent for drawing before realising that designing clothes is what they want to do for life. Others discover it somewhere along the way, when they study history of fashion and then move on to a Master’s in fashion design. Either way, it’s probably best to keep away from this department if you can’t hold a pencil! University courses are endless on this field all around the world and especially in London, so you’ll just need to decide which one meets your desires. Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion and the University of Westminster are all fine examples of that. Through the university, you will be able to build a portfolio and even showcase your work in exhibitions with the help of your professors. Again, contacts are key!

If you’re not into full-time studying, though, you can at least take part in a smaller training design course or seminar, organised by various cultural and fashion organisations or by the universities themselves. This will help you develop your skills, even if they already are at a high level. Plus, an extra certificate never really hurt anyone!

Once you’ve completed your training and have built your portfolio, it will be much easier to start looking for a job. Again, unpaid contributions or internships will help you evolve and go after the real thing when the world is ready for your talent! People are constantly looking for designers and you’ll manage to find something in no time, even through a quick Google search. Again, remember that small businesses are easier to approach than Gucci, for example. And if you’ve got lots to show them, even better! It’s also worth having a blog on WordPress or Tumblr with pictures of your designs, since everything’s online these days. Plus, this is the best way to promote your work for free.

Fashion Photographer

Photography works in a similar way to design, so be prepared to get yourself out there, find people who will help you showcase your work, even if that means sometimes self-funding an exhibition. But money is not as important as networking so don’t worry if you’re not Paris Hilton.

Education could still help with the contacts and obviously with promoting your work, but you can always do it the old-fashioned way. If you have faith in your pictures and don’t mind talking them and yourself up, then go door to door to publications or galleries where you think they’d need your expertise. (Of course, some minimum camera training might be required before anything else, but you just may have it in you so no pressure there!)

What’s important is to cover as many fashion events as possible, even if it’s not for Vogue. So again, start small and get in touch with your university’s newspaper or a new start-up. They will be happy to help and be helped in return.

Fashion Journalist 

Let’s assume you have no drawing talents, no body for a model and can’t work the camera. You’d still love to somehow be a part of this exciting fashion world, though. Do you give up? Of course not! You can always experience it as an observer who can actually shape trends, praise the good and condemn the bad! Freedom of speech has led to a lot of great things and one of them is definitely journalism.

For me, writing is one of the most fulfilling means of self-expression; a vital one if I may say so. Usually, it’s not something you pick up, it’s something you’ve always loved to do since you were a kid. So if you’re still flicking through Grazia or Elle, dreaming what it would be like to work for such prestigious magazines, then stop, ‘cause you need to step into action.

The first thing you need to do is build your own blog -which you probably already have, since you can’t live without writing. Style it up, find a catchy name for it and SEO the hell out of it. This means you’ll need to use videos and as many links as possible to other websites or online publications in order to make them notice you. Of course, social media and especially Twitter will help promote it even more.

It’s also worth writing for a school or a university newspaper, to gain primary experience which you can then include in your CV. If you study journalism or specifically fashion journalism, even better; a lot of magazines may require a fashion or journalism degree. However, experience is even more important so the best thing to do once you’ve set up your blog is to find a website where people will appreciate your work and passion and who will let you write for them (usually without paying, though). They will show you the ropes to the business and help you improve your writing. These are not hard to find and Fashion Workie is again a great example. Company Magazine also offers a nice selection of fashion related jobs, while I find journalism and media groups on Twitter the most effective (see links at the end of the article).

Finally, here’s a crazy thought; if you still can’t find an internship or apprenticeship or any type of voluntary work where you’d think they’d want you to contribute your stories, why not ask for it? When I was studying in Greece, I emailed a great number of magazines asking if I could contribute my stories or help in any way within the editorial department, without expecting any financial compensation. To my surprise, Elle magazine was kind enough to offer me such an opportunity. The market is obviously much bigger in the UK but still, you might get lucky with a smaller publication and convince them to let you in, even if they were not looking for writers in the first place! After all, you’ll only be helping them.

Two-week work experiences advertised by fashion magazines might also be beneficial, although they are so short that you will probably need to do a bunch of them before you land a internship and then, a regular job.

All of the above applies to broadcast as well, if you have your way with videos and blogging. Online journalism is the best platform for you and YouTube is obviously your friend!

Fashion Marketing/ PR/ Social Media

Still not happy? No writing talent either? No worries! You can always manage designers and models for a living! PR is essential in the fashion industry and the social media are taking over the world. Of course, you must be media and internet savvy, knowing your Twitter from your Vine. Having a fashion blog is your only salvation if you want to follow this career path. This would again involve some writing but you could focus mostly on web design and innovative ways to promote fashion collections, through pictures, funny GIFs and YouTube videos.

After setting it up, look for ways to prove your skills to others. PR and social media ads are practically everywhere these days; even if you’ve typed sous-chef in the search bar, some PR job is sure to come up! So don’t be afraid to speak to as many people as possible and undertake your first small project to prove to the world that you are in a position of managing Cara Delevingne as successfully as you would handle the Instagram account of your local boutique. I can’t stress enough how paramount contacts are here! You have to be ready to hand out cards 24/7 and pick up the phone without second-guessing. There’s only one door to get you in and the door bell reads ‘communication’.

Retail/ E-commerce/ Sales

If your organisational skills are more powerful than your creativity, then that’s the job for you! It’s equally rewarding as any other fashion role, since working in the retail sector gives you a chance to get in touch with all the new trends in the most immediate way possible; from the inside of a shop!

If you love the more practical aspect of this department, you will be happy to talk to clients and liaise with merchandisers and designers to ensure the smooth running of the business. Otherwise, if you’re into the online retail, you will probably find great pleasure in handling orders and clients’ requests for an online fashion clothing line.

In any case, this must be the job that’s most easy to access as far as the fashion industry is concerned. All you need to do is aim to acquire the necessary administration skills through any office-related work you happen to do (helping at your mother’s office is not so pointless, after all) and be as polite as one can be. If you have a genuine love for fashion and substantial IT knowledge you will manage to climb even higher up the ladder.

So that’s about it! If you dig deeper, you’ll see there are even more jobs that could be related to fashion, like working as a stylist, hairstylist or make-up artist; opportunities are indeed endless. Before starting your search, remember to build your brand because no one will do it for you; employers will choose someone who has an idea of how to put their skills to practice rather than someone who’s still trying to figure it out. This doesn’t mean they will expect you to know everything, just know your strengths from your weaknesses and use them accordingly. Self-promotion is not equal to pomposity, if used correctly. Search a lot, boast and then fly!

As Hilary would put it,  “forget about the reasons why you can’t in life and start to try, ‘cause it’s your time to fly!”

Here are some links that might help:

http://www.fashionworkie.com/

http://www.retailchoice.com/

http://www.indeed.co.uk/Fashion-jobs

http://www.company.co.uk/careers/

https://gothinkbig.co.uk/opportunities

https://twitter.com/MediaNationUK

https://twitter.com/mediamuppet

https://twitter.com/journojobuk

https://twitter.com/Journograds

https://twitter.com/journalism_jobs

http://www.gorkanajobs.co.uk/

http://jobs.theguardian.com/

http://www.handle.co.uk/

http://www.careermovesgroup.co.uk/

http://www.artshub.co.uk/

http://www.judyfisher.co.uk/

http://www.roserecruitment.com/

* Picture: Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, image courtesy of Flickr

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