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Careers Centre

Fashion

Sector Overview

This page has been written by Liz Batterham, the relevant Careers Adviser for this occupational area. To see how you can meet Liz, or any of our advisers, visit our website.

The fashion industry is big business and employs many people in a variety of roles. In the UK alone, there are over 156,000 people employed in the fashion sector. The sector is very popular with graduates and competition for the best jobs is fierce. Design, marketing and distribution are key areas. Candidates are expected to have a strong interest in fashion, read relevant press and be up to date with future trends. Working conditions vary depending on the nature of work. For example, the role of a designer differs significantly from that of a buyer or fashion journalist. Starting salaries are low and working hours are long. Some roles, particularly fashion buyer, involve time away from home on business trips, often to challenging destinations.

 

Fashion attributes/skills profile

 

Key attributes/skills needed for the role Where you could develop these skills or attributes
Genuine interest and commitment to the sector

This is most likely to be developed and evidenced through your work experience in retail.

Foreign language skills This is most likely to be developed and evidenced through your academic studies or language course; TEFL experience.
Ability to manage time and work well under pressure

CAPOD regularly runs courses covering these skills within its Professional Skills Curriculum.

Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies such as The St Andrews Charity Fashion Show will give you the chance to put them into practice.
Good organisational skills
Demonstrable commercial awareness and good business acumen
Strong communication and interpersonal skills

Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?

  • Technical knowledge of garment technology, information technology, production and supply chain management, textile technology

 

Nature of sector or roles

There is a wide range of jobs in the world of fashion.

The fashion industry has always recruited graduates, usually with a relevant degree, for designer and production manager roles, but now recruitment is broadening. Business and technical skills are increasingly important. Fashion careers for graduates can be divided into the following four areas:

For graduates without a relevant degree in fashion design, job roles are likely to be in the areas of business and management or the associated fashion careers eg journalism, publishing.

Networks - why and how to use them

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations. Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for Acne Studios, Carhartt Media, Hermes and Bestseller. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews. There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

How to gain experience/internships

If you are sure that you want a career in fashion then getting involved in related activities at university is essential. Throughout the academic year, a number of fashion shows and events take place, eg the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show. Getting involved with these, particularly behind the scenes and in a specific role can provide an insight into what’s involved and show potential employers that you have the motivation and interest needed to pursue a career in this field.

Demonstrating a keen interest in the fashion industry is crucial if you want to get onto the career ladder in this field. One way to do this is to write a regular fashion blog. Choose a theme, be unique, and try and offer something different to all the other fashion blogs out there. Keeping a fashion blog or writing about fashion for student publications can be another way to ensure your CV has sufficient evidence of your interest and motivation.

Work experience is crucial to develop your business and commercial awareness and knowledge of the sector. It can be a useful way of developing your technical, organisational and networking skills as well as refining your future career focus.

Use your job-hunting skills and personal and professional networks to approach employers with an up to date and tailored CV and covering letter, introducing your skills, achievements and interest in the company. Consider attending a trade fair or fashion exhibition to network with relevant employers. Pure and Moda are the UK’s leading fashion trade exhibitions in the sector.

Work experience in a retail fashion environment can be useful, giving you practical experience of the sales end of the fashion process and help you get an understanding of consumer behaviour and buying patterns.

There are a number of recruitment agencies and jobsites which advertise fashion internships, including:


(see also links in 'How to get a (graduate) job' section)


CollegeFashionista - Style Guru interns

CollegeFashionista is a college trend reporting website that focuses on street style fashion at over 300 colleges worldwide. They are always looking for Style Guru interns who contribute an article each week during the duration of the internship as well as participate in monthly Twitter chats with fashion industry executives, webinars and other skill building exercises. Interns also have the opportunity to work on brand campaigns and organize local fashion events.

If you are enthusiastic about the fashion industry, love photography and social media then fill out their online application.

How to get a (graduate) job

Finding a job or even an internship in the fashion world can be difficult. It is essential to master good networking skills. The University of St Andrews Careers Centre website has a section dedicated to this and you should use this to hone your skills. Then use the St Andrews Alumni LinkedIn group to look for graduates of the university who may be working in an area of the industry you’re interested in. Don’t approach them initially with the idea of getting a job. Start with asking for insights or information about their role or the company their work for. The aim is to build a relationship, prove your interest and motivation, then perhaps ask for some work experience and go on from there. Competition is fierce for jobs in the fashion industry and patience and dedication will be required to get into the area you’re most interested in.


Useful links and jobsites

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

Graduate Fashion Week has a wealth of information on careers in fashion, including how to write a CV and covering letter, preparing for interviews and promoting yourself to the industry.

Relevant Postgraduate Study

Although not essential, postgraduate study may be useful in this area, particularly for a graduate whose first degree is unrelated to the fashion industry. Those interested in a career in fashion design may want to consider further study to gain more specialist technical knowledge and demonstrate a commitment to the industry.

There are a number of websites which offer listings of relevant courses, namely:

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources

Online

Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

GoinGlobal

Books:

 

 General fashion careers information

 

USA resources

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.