Working In The Fashion Industry
An overview of the industry
While it’s not all glitz and glam, the fashion industry is an exciting and fun place to work. What’s more, fashion requires workers from a diverse range of backgrounds and interests, so there’s sure to be room for you.
What’s most important is a creative flair and an eye for trends. Whatever your role in the industry, your priority is producing clothes and accessories that will help people look their very best.
The fashion industry sees the crossing of arts and business. This means there are lots of roles with different degrees of customer interaction. You may prefer to remain behind the scenes, just working with those in the industry itself. Or perhaps you want a more customer facing role in which you’ll be helping people find the right clothes for them. The fashion industry offers something for everyone.
Fashion is one of the largest creative industries in the UK, but it’s also highly competitive. Most roles in the industry do not require a degree, so it’s all about your talent and your ability to market yourself.
For the most part, you’ll be working for a company within the industry and you’ll work on a particular sector, such as menswear, children’s fashion, or sportswear. Womenswear is the most popular sector in the industry but also the most competitive, so you’ll need to stand out.
Or, if you’re less interested in designing clothes yourself, you could pursue a career in modelling.
Skills & interests required
Obviously, an eye for trends and creativity are essential characteristics for anyone who wants to work in fashion. Fashion is constantly changing and evolving, and it’ll be up to you to track what’s “in fashion” at the moment – but you’ll also help set those trends too!
Fashion is all about presentation, so you’re going to need to be highly perceptive to catch all those little details that can help make an outfit.
You’ll also rarely be working alone. You’ll need to collaborate with other people within the industry and work together to make the very best product you can. If you’re in a more customer facing role, you’ll also have to work with your customers to find an outfit that suits them, so a friendly and personable disposition will be essential.
Presentational skills are highly important in fashion. Often, you’ll be presenting your projects to others before they go into production, but before that you’re going to need to prove to employers that they should hire you. Developing a great portfolio and being able to show why you stand out from others trying to get into the industry will be the first step in getting into it.
Computer skills are also increasingly important in the fashion industry. A lot of work is now done using computer software like Adobe Photoshop, so consider taking a course in such software.
Other important skills include:
-Ability to handle rejection
- Attention to detail
- Commercial Awareness
- Event Planning
Typical Career Progression Routes for School Leavers
This will vary widely depending on your particular field. Typically, you’ll start as an assistant to someone already in the industry, but that means you’re going to need to find someone to take you on first. So, you’ll need a portfolio of professional quality work to demonstrate your skills.
You might also be able to get an internship at a fashion agency. You’ll have to work hard to prove your worth, but if you’ve got the talent and a creative passion, they may offer you a paid position.
As you get more experience and begin to make a name for yourself, you’ll be offered more responsibility as you rise through the ranks.
Tips for getting into the field
The fashion industry is incredibly competitive. You’re going to need to stand out and get your name out there. Using fashion networking sites liked LinkedIn or Fashion United will help connect you with people in the industry who may be able to get you an internship or a job.
But you’ll also need to prove your talent, so developing a strong portfolio of work is essential. If you land an interview, having particular projects that demonstrate your skills will be helpful and allow you to demonstrate your talent in detail. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how talented you are if you can’t demonstrate that talent to others, so brush up on those presentation skills!
Womenswear is an incredibly popular area of fashion, but it’s also the most competitive. Very few people are going into menswear, sportswear or accessories design, so consider a career in these fields.
Types of jobs in Fashion
Your salary will vary depending on your experience and your position. Here are a few (just a few!) examples, starting from entry-level salaries to the most experienced members of the field:
Dressmakers - £13,500 - £22,000.
Tailor – £14,000 - £22,000
Image Consultant - £14,000 - £40,000
Textile technologist - £21,000 - £45,000.
Textile technologists typically require a degree in maths, textile science, chemistry or a similar field. However, you can work your way up from being a textile operative or technician.
Qualification requirements & subjects to study
For most positions, you don’t need a specific qualification, but a GCSE or a BTEC in textiles can be a big help.
Some positions, like Textile Technologist, will require a specific degree. Make sure you research what role interests you most and see if there are any specific qualifications required.