So you Want to Work in Fashion?
Graduate Fashion Week played host to a whole cast of super star fashionistas all there to give the recent graduates (and college students looking to go into fashion) the benefit of their superior fashion knowledge.
The main aim was to remind students that the fashion industry has grown into many different sectors in the past decade and the area of job opportunities are vast, working in fashion isn't just about being a designer. Though this role tends to be seen as the best, there are so many areas one can go into, its key to find a role that suits your skills set and personality.
Hosted by ex-ID editor and stylist supremo Caryn Franklin, the All-Star panel consisted of some of fashions big players…
- Lorraine Candy (Editor at Elle magazine)
- Henry Holland (One of LFW's favourite new designers)
- Catherine Belle (WGSN trend forecaster/writer – this lady helps decide what we will all be following two years ahead of its time! How crystal ball is that!)
- Chris Hodge (head of Fashion Courses at Northumbria University)
- Avril Mair (Fashion Features Editor at Elle and ex-editor at ID magazine!)
- Richard Bradury (CEO at River Island)
Now yours truly swept into this star studded event on the magic carpet of a Press Pass and found herself at the front of the auditorium sitting next to the lovely Head of GFW!
So what pearls of knowledge can I pass on from the talk?
None of these tip top fashionistas just simply fell into their jobs. All of the panellist worked really hard and really long hours to get to where they are now. Most interestingly very few of them stuck to their original ‘game plan'. Henry Holland for instance studied journalism at university and subsequently worked on Bliss, Sneak and Smash Hits magazine, only recently embarking on a fashion design career. While Lorraine Candy who can now truly make or break a career left school at 16 with not a single A-Level and worked her way up through internships and assistants jobs going from local to national newspapers and magazines. Only Richard Bradbury started his career in retail and stuck with it, but he did start at the bottom and work his way to the top, going from sales assistant, to menswear buyer (the man who introduced jeans to Burtons) and starting his career at River Island when it was still called Chelsea Girl.
So yep folks it seems to be that however glam fashion looks from the outside in the inner hub its all work, work, work! I mean just imagine having to sit in a fashion cupboard to midnight torture huh! (yeah right, lock me in and throw away the key please!)
Which job should you be going for?
JOB: FASHION STUDENT (if your not studying yet but thinking about it, would it suit/help you)
SKILLS: SHOW A PASSION FOR FASHION! So many people apply for a course, make sure you show how enthusiastic you are! Prepare questions to ask about the course, know the university and your desired discipline. Remember there are lots of fashion subjects you can studying not just design!
HIGHS: Learning a new skill is brilliant and being surrounded by people who share your passion is great. You will be given amazing opportunities at Uni that you wont get just going straight to work.
LOWS: It's hard work and full time. However much you enjoy it be prepared to work your socks off, after all you only get out of something what you put in!
SKILLS: You have to be committed, have drive and be confident. Remember if you want to run your own fashion label there is the business side too! You will get plenty of knocks and you may get criticised, but you have to be able to tack that on board, dust yourself off and carry on!
HIGHS: Showcasing at LFW, running your own business.
LOWS: Hard work, running your own business is stressful!
BEST WAY TO BREAK IN: Once you have some basic pattern cutting skills, you can start applying for placements and internships, generally these are unpaid and the busiest time is a couple of months before fashion week, as this is when the collections are being put together and finalised. But remember, designing is a hugely competitive market and everyone will work for free to get a foot in the door! Make your CV really stand out, be creative. One student even sent Henry Holland and his team a cake and she ended up working there for a while, because she was memorable, made an effort and intrigued them (and obviously bakes a good cake!)
JOB: TREND FORECASTER.
SKILLS: Trend forecasting is an incredible job, especially when working at the big forecasters such as WGSN. There team will travel the world sourcing new ideas and now what will be hot 2 years before it happens! To work in this area you need to have a good eye. Do you always guess what will be popular before it happens?! You also need to be interested in the wider cultural sphere that influences fashion, that means social changes, architecture, films etc. As all these things influence new and emerging trends.
HIGHS: Travel and knowing what will be in fashion before the rest of us!
LOWS: Again its long hours and will take a lot of work to reach the top.
BEST WAY TO BREAK IN: Applying for internships in smaller trend based sites would probably be the best. Always try to keep up to date with your fashion knowledge, trend shows and cultural changes. You can now study fashion forecasting at university, so sign up and learn how to be the coolest fashion fortune teller in town!
JOB: JOURNALIST/FEATURES EDITOR
SKILLS: You MUST LOVE MAGAZINES. Being a fashion journalist means lots of writing, but equally lots of researching. As its fashion there is also visuals to contend with! There are lots of different types of jobs at a fashion magazine, from writing to doing the artwork to being a sub-editor (checking spellings etc). This means that if your very good at English and love fashion, but not sure actual hands-on journalism would suit you, there is still a place for you! To be successful you must know your field, devour everything you can so you can always feel confident in your fashion knowledge. You must also be curious. Think of yourself as a journalist who is in fashion not the other way round, find out where inspiration came from, rather than just the end product!
HIGHS: Going to see fashion shows around the world!
LOWS: Long, long, long hours.
SKILLS: You will need to work up from being a journalist, but being a good editor means having and sharing the vision of the publication you work on. The editor is like the captain pulling the team together, making sure everything is perfect and pulling all the strands together.
HIGHS: Fashion shows, fashion cupboards and general FASHION!
LOWS: Long hours and huge responsibility.
HOW TO BREAK IN TO JOURNALISM: Apply for internships at local publications, magazines and newspapers. Your work experience can be both in fashion and non-fashion. Both of the ELLE panellists started off writing about un-fashion related topics!
SKILLS: To get to the top of retail you need to be good with people, you need to be able to read people so you can respond to their needs and be a motivator. If you get put in charge, can you inspire your team? Retail can be really rewarding and there is a really good chance to develop within big companies like River Island from the shop floor up. If you are working in a retail chain, it's a fantastic opportunity, get to know the company that you work for, show them what an asset and diamond you are and they are sure to let you shine!
HIGHS: Customer satisfaction means your doing a good job!
LOWS: Customer dissatisfaction. No retailer wants its customers to be displeased with their purchase. There are lots of little things that add up to make the overall business a success, so its stressful but if you do well the rewards are great!
HOW TO BREAK IN: Get a job in a retailer that has a proven record of employee development. There is no shame in starting on the shop floor, it's the best way to get to know the business and will really impress the powers above if you choose to develop your career through their company.