How to work in fashion with no experience
Fashion is a trillion-dollar industry and continues to grow around 5.5 percent annually according to reports conducted by McKinsey and Deloitte. Fundamentally a creative industry, working in fashion is never boring and there is also a wide range of career options available. From the more traditional roles such as fashion designer and editor to the growing demand for STEM skills as sustainability and analyzing data is driving the future of fashion.
There’s never been a better time than now to explore a career in fashion. Still studying yet ready to venture into the business or maybe you already have a career in a different field, but got bitten by the fashion bug and the potential this industry has to offer? Read on for tips on how to snag a job in fashion without prior experience.
Reach out to your network and ask for help
Besides sending out your job applications to companies and job recruiting sites, be sure to also reach out to your network. Many people assume that if they were not born into the right family or went to a famous school, they do not have a network.
Now is not the time to be bashful or proud, tell everybody you know whether it’s that distant relative, the counselor at school or even a customer from your part-time job that you are looking for a job in fashion and ask them if they know anyone they can connect you with. Even if they’re not able to introduce somebody to you this time, you’ll see that this is the network you have and they may keep you in mind for the next time.
Strategize your internship
It’s no secret that internships in fashion are one of the best ways to break into the industry with absolutely no experience. If you have a dream company you’d like to one day end up working for, starting out as an intern at one of their subsidiaries is an ideal way to achieve that goal. For example, luxury conglomerates such as LVMH, Kering and Richemont have an extensive portfolio of brands. One could start out as an intern at Sephora and eventually end up working for Fendi.
During the interview, there will be skills asked of you that you may not have. Now is the time to be honest. In an industry where words and images are often embellished and edited, honesty can be highly valued. Admitting that you don’t know something is not always a weakness. Unbeknownst to you, a brand may want to hire somebody who is a blank slate that they can train.
Bring enthusiasm, willingness to learn
Personality and a good work ethic go a long way in the fashion business. Nobody is going to like working with somebody that is apathetic about their job or brings negative energy to the team. You’ll make an impression in this competitive field by being collaborative, enthusiastic and showing that you’re craving to learn.
Analytical, data-driven and practical
Amongst a sea of creatives, big talkers and PR mavens that usually grace the surface of the fashion industry, don’t be deterred if you find yourself feeling more at home with numbers or analyzing data. Currently, leading luxury and sportswear brands are actively seeking talent to fill positions in tech and analytics.
Salome Holland who interned for Montblanc told FashionUnited in an email, “I definitely see myself as more analytical. I think a very important element of the luxury industry is turning clients’ dreams into reality and once the creative ideas have been set, practicality takes over. An example of this that comes to mind is the difference between the brainstorm portion of client experience versus assessing their implementation with KPIs. The initial phase is very creative; however, the phases of implementation and assessment require a lot of analytical thinking and practical drive.”
Create your own opportunities
Like in any industry, you need to earn your stripes in fashion before getting the corner office or managing your own team. Even if it’s only an entry-level internship or an assistant job, it’s a chance to shine and show how you can contribute to the company. Discover what your team needs help with and don’t be afraid to ask if you can create a new project. Most importantly, be confident about what you bring to the table and own it!
Carmen Castiñeira, the Communications Manager at Derek Lam said to FashionUnited in an interview,“Take advantage of any opportunity. Show an eagerness to take on new responsibilities and projects, be proactive. Intern and gain as much experience as you can; I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have those opportunities.”
Photo: courtesy of Olivia Rubin by Paul Whitfield