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Steps to breaking into the fashion industry

By Aileen Yu


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In today’s world, fashion is not just a trillion dollar business, but also a heavyweight on the global market permeating numerous industries. Whether you are drawn to luxury brands steeped in tradition or the tech innovation of fashion e-commerce, there are more opportunities than ever for those curious about working in fashion. Here are some tips to take those first steps into this ever challenging yet glamorous profession.

Place yourself in a fashion environment

It is totally possible these days to become a nano-influencer based in a small town anywhere in the world, but if you really want to witness the daily ongoings within the fashion industry, you must be in the middle of it. Even just starting out with a summer internship in New York City, you can take full advantage of the fashion capital by building your personal rolodex while gaining hands-on experience. There have been true stories of someone getting hired as a PR assistant for Marc Jacobs just because they were at the right place at the right time. You just never know who you may meet!

Find out which fashion mecca is for you

Start by observing what kind of brands and companies you’d devote days and nights working for. Is it the European couture houses with centuries heritage, young American designers shaking up industry norms or the e-commerce tech startups on the West Coast disrupting digital retail? Depending on the fashion environment that suits your personality and style interests, you’ll know to pack your bags and head to Paris, New York City or even San Francisco.

Research and reach out

Internships and working for free to attain your dream job seems like the obvious sacrifice; however, this is not the only way anymore. Think of who you’d like to be your mentor and start researching their company and even reaching out online. "Mentors are more available than people think," Leonard Lawson of BOND Creative Search and BOND Collective Inc. told Refinery29, "and doing mentorship programs or just approaching people in careers you admire, you'd be surprised how many people want to be helpful.”

Passion, dedication and determination

From an outsider’s point of view, the glittering fashion week parties, catwalk shows and store openings exude glamour and luxury. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? It’s when we see the behind the scenes footage or read testimonials from designers, producers and the journalists that one realizes it’s sleepless nights and unwavering dedication that drives the fashion business. Before all the success, be sure that you’ll be ready to bring your “A” game and not expect to go on holiday when everyone else is or stick to regulated office hours when working in fashion.

Have an interesting personal story and showcase your value

Among thousands of applicants, how does one stand out if you’re just starting out? Without much experience and expertise under your belt, one sure fire way to make a lasting impression is to tell an interesting personal story that highlights who you are. Are you passionate about Japanese streetwear? Then, try mastering the language. Do you stand up for the disenfranchised? Focus on how you got involved with a charity. As celebrity stylist and beauty expert Mary Alice Stephenson said to Elle.com, “In my career I have hired many young people who weren't the most fashionable ones that showed up for the interview. The most fashionable thing out there is drive, dedication, and heart. I want to see who you are more than any fancy label on your back!"

Photos: Aleksandr Dyskin | Dreamstime.com, Dior autumn/ winter 2018, Christine Spengler for Dior
Work in Fashion