The world of fashion is vast and expansive. Worldwide, it facilitated employment for 3.45 billion individuals directly within the industry in 2021, according to the World Bank Open Data. With an annual turnover of approximately 1.7 trillion dollars (approximately 1.6 trillion euros or 1.4 trillion pounds), it's hard to overlook its significant economic implications.
With its glamorous photoshoots and runway shows, the industry is a beacon for many, particularly the younger generation. Listed below are the essential elements you should consider before embarking on a fashion career journey, as outlined by FashionUnited.
1. The industry offers a multitude of roles beyond just fashion design
The production of technical textiles requires a variety of professionals including clothing technicians, product developers, and pattern makers. A comprehensive list of professions within the fashion industry can be found here. may seem the most highly exciting, it's not all glitz and glamour.
2. Not every fashion industry role requires formal fashion education
Even though it can be very useful to have pursued studies in fashion education before entering the fashion industry and many young people across the world choose to do so, not every role in the industry necessitates formal education. Some roles can be better learned in practice, such as through an apprenticeship, where you can also undertake while learning. Dual study programs or traineeships are also options. Particularly in sales, where skilled individuals are often in high demand, starting with a student internship and progressing within the company could be a simpler and more accessible way to gain a foothold in the fashion world. Should you later decide to pursue further studies, having sales experience will enhance your resume.
3. Even some prominent fashion designers have not pursued formal education
Jean Paul Gaultier seized his opportunity by sending sketches to renowned couture houses before he was hired by Pierre Cardin. Nicolas Ghesquière began his career with an internship at Agnes B., while Edward Enninful decided in the 90s that formal education was not for him and instead became the Fashion Director of i-D. While it's not always this straightforward, luck, persistence, and audacity can go a long way. If you have a clear vision of what you want, strive for it in your own unique way. However, don't be disheartened if success doesn't come immediately or at all. There are multiple paths to a career in fashion.
4. Despite the above, a degree is still the safest route into fashion
Following the example of Nicolas Ghesquière by entering fashion through an internship may be challenging today as most fashion companies require enrolment in a relevant course and some prior experience in fashion. Therefore, a degree of any kind is still the most secure bet. However, you can make a career change with unrelated degrees, especially if you have some work experience.
5. Prestigious or expensive design and fashion schools are not the only options
Indeed, there are world-renowned design and fashion schools, like Central Saint Martins, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the London College of Fashion, which admit the most artistically talented candidates from across the globe. A degree from one of these institutions is almost equivalent to securing a good job, not to mention it sounds impressive. However, a quality education can certainly be obtained domestically as well. Additionally, other types of schools have a lot to offer and may even better prepare you for the professional world. Design and fashion schools are creative havens, but often they are far removed from the practical demands of fashion companies, where most graduates end up. A quality education can certainly be obtained domestically as well.
6. Pursuing a career in fashion entails rigorous labour
Do you relish engaging in artisanal endeavours? Studying fashion design doesn’t just entail concocting stylish ensembles (that is the realm of styling, which also requires an additional layer of expertise), but it also necessitates spending countless nights working with sewing machines. You are required to exhibit patience, a high tolerance for frustration (as sewing machines do not always function as desired), and an unwavering attention to detail. Resilience under pressure is also crucial, as in the fashion industry, deadlines tend to converge simultaneously. If these do not align with your strengths, perhaps a study program with a more economical orientation would better suit you.
7. Attend ‘open house’ events
The majority of fashion schools, if not all, organise oOpen hHouse events, which can be valuable for prospective students to attend.. Make sure to attend! Open houses let youTake the opportunity to explore the premises and, engage in discussions with educators and alumni. It also offers the opportunity to ask important questions: Be curious! Where have the alumni ventured? What ties to the industry have they established? What reputation does the school uphold? What is the essence of the educational program? It allows you to buildTake the time to form an impression on-site and contemplate whether the school imparts the knowledge theyyou earnestly wish to acquire.
8. Be aware of the scarcity of top-tier positions (as in any industry)
As previously mentioned, there are 3.45 billion individuals employed in the fashion sector worldwide. How many individuals directly employed in the fashion industry can you recall by name? Roughly speaking, that is your probability of securing a prestigious position such as the CEO of a brand like Adidas or the creative director at Hugo Boss. However, this should not deter you from pursuing your dreams. Those with talent can achieve considerable success in fashion, even beyond the famous examples. There is a long list of small fashion labels producing exceptional fashion.
9. There are industries with better salaries
The fashion industry is highly sought-after, which can pose an issue . This is due to the competitive nature of the job market. Consequently, employers are not obligated to offer substantial salaries to attract talent, unlike in some other industries. Therefore, you should be aware that you might have to make financial sacrifices by opting for the fashion industry.
10. There are industries with a more balanced work-life balance
Salary remains the primary reason for resignation for 70 percent of respondents, even ahead of insufficient career prospects and unbalanced work-life harmony, which are the reasons for changing employers for every second person. This is evident from the "Working in Fashion 2020" study by the German trade magazine TextilWirtschaft. Those employed in the fashion industry should expect to work overtime, particularly as the high-pressure seasons approach, which is a result of the seasonality of fashion.
11. Is fashion a hobby or a vocation for me?
Finally, be candid with yourself. Is fashion something you wish to dedicate your life to, or do you simply enjoy shopping? Granted, it's an exaggerated perspective, but take a moment to scrutinise your motivation. If you remain convinced that fashion is the right path for you, you can find our job market here, and our Fashion Education Network and fashion schools worldwide here.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.DE. Translation and edit: team FashionUnited.UK.