Saturday, February 19, 2011

Entry Level Jobs in the Fashion Industry

See section Fashion Careers on this blog.

Designing clothing is only one of many careers in fashion.
One thing I´ve observed about the fashion industry is that there are really no "rules" to getting in.  Obviously going to fashion school is one place to start and will offer opportunities for getting a foot in.  Marketing and social sciences such as sociology, anthropology and psychology are excellent base courses and are actually required courses in the serious design schools. A basic grasp of Euclidean and of projective geometry is of great assistance for transferring design ideas into clothing through patternmaking. You can also get some insight into the fashion industry from reality shows like "Project Runway," "Running In Heels," "America´s Next Top Model". "The Devil Wears Prada" is a must-see movie as is Isaac Mizrahi's 1995 movie "Unzipped." In fact, a look into Mr. Mizrahi's career over the past 20 years or so is something to be admired.  Not because he chooses to pander to an often cruel and supercilious industry but because he chooses to "take it or leave it" and does so with such dignity.

Backstage at a fashion runway show.
Here are some tips:
  • Before deciding on any school, fashion or otherwise, make sure it is accredited by an agency recognized by U.S. Department of Education (ED).  Also do a search on the internet for how to avoid post-secondary school scams, university scams and online school scams.  There are a LOT of scams, especially now that the internet has made it so easy. Just because a school claims to be accredited means absolutely nothing unless the accrediting agency is recognized by ED.  If the school is in a country other than the U.S.A. do your research. There must be similar agencies to the ED there as well.
  •  Try to work at a clothing store, a big department store is best.  Entry level jobs are usually as a sales attendant. The pay is low, perhaps commission-based; and the hours can be grueling.  You may also have to deal with demanding, sometimes downright rude, customers.  (Remain professional, this is a taste of what is to come in a "dog-eat-dog" industry). But this is a great job for someone who wants to see a bit of everything.  Fashion merchandising, marketing, publicity, trends.  If you are able to stick it out you might eventually get promoted to managerial or buyer´s position. 
  • Check out websites of various designers and fashion magazines, many have an "Apply for Internship" link. Requirements to be accepted into an internship program vary but most ask that you either have a college degree or be currently enrolled in a college or university. 
  • Many clothing or department stores hire extra sales help before Thanksgiving on temporary contracts to work through the high sales season.  Nice way to try it out and see if you would eventually be interested in long term work.
  • No matter what job in fashion you end up in, knowing the basics of patternmaking, sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, how textiles are produced and all those other "crafty" things will make you better at your job.  To write a fashion column for example, you should know what goes into making a garment. Then you will know how "good" or "bad" it truly is.
  • Take a few classes in sewing or fashion design at a local community center or college before diving head first into a big investment.  If you are still in high school this is the perfect way to see if it is just a passing interest or if you will be in for the long haul.  People are sometimes disillusioned when they enroll in an expensive fashion school and then realize it is a lot different than they thought it would be.
  • See more information on Clothing DesignFashion School and Fashion Careers for links and resources about the fashion industry.
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Photos:
Fashion Model Fitting Clothes by Professional Designer Woman; istockphoto.com/CandyBoxPhoto
Model Taking a Break; istockphoto.com/Dr Bubbles
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