Are you a student with the hope for a career in the fashion industry?
We’ve all seen Anne Hathaway’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, and witnessed how cut throat the fashion industry can be. For those of you who are brave enough, finding a stepping stone into the fashion industry can be harder than finding that pair of jeans that can give you a butt like Rihanna’s. Whether your dream is to become a fashion designer, publicist, writer or stylist, you must first understand the industry, pick the right course and obtain an internship. Here’s what you need to know to make it.
What is the fashion industry?
First thing’s first, what is it? The United States Fashion Industry states the fashion industry involves a broad range of the textile (fabrics, sewing) and apparel (clothing). This ranges from a variety of jobs in high luxury brands to fast–fashion retailers.
Working within the fashion industry provide a wide range of opportunities. The good includes access to runway shows, meeting designers and attending parties with the odd celebrity wondering around, sipping on their Moet. Then there’s the bad, all the hours of dirty work needed to reach your fashion career goals. Yes, this is your dream job… and the dream job of a million other people. You will have to work hard and understand you may not be treated how you deserve, and learn how to be okay with that.
Sarah Stavrow, former fashion publicist and owner of The Fashion Institute reveals the harsh reality of the fashion industry. “The fashion industry is crazy. It’s definitely not as glamourous as you’d think. It’s very unprofessional. There’s no CEO or industry standard of how much people are getting paid”, she says. “A young student can get a job within the industry, and they’ll give you 20,000 dollars for the year and you’ll probably take that, just because you’re happy to be there – and they know that.”
Where do I start?
So you think you can handle this industry? If you want to make it to the top and become the next famous Australian fashion designer, then it may be in your best interest to look into higher education. A study from Open Colleges shows that 39.9 per cent of fashion designers who have completed a bachelor and 24.2 per cent who have completed a diploma were more likely to become successful.
But what institution?
Are you bombarded by all the different institutions and unsure which is the place for you? If you’re the type of person who would much rather have broader knowledge of the fashion industry, go for a university. But if you work better in a more intimate environment with one-on-one tuition, opt for a college.
For Valeria Sanchez, 18, choosing to do a Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles at the University of Technology made sense because the course offered a balance of theoretical and practical. “I really enjoy my course as it gives me the opportunity to work with other disciplinary design fields including, interior design, production design, and visual communication which allows me to contribute to trans-disciplinary projects,” she explains. “I think this is extremely valuable in gaining student attributes and preparing me for the fashion industry.”
Still not sold on a university fashion course? Maybe a college course would work better for you, as it did for Rebecca Alonzo, 18, completing a Bachelor of Fashion Marketing at Raffles College of Commerce and Design. “It’s hands on, small class sizes, one-on-one attention,” she explains. “[Our college] are the only provider that offers a bachelor in fashion marketing. We incorporate real world briefs and participate in collaborative projects with outside colleges and multiple disciplines within the college. We can match internships to each particular student depending on their interests. We’re a small family!”
What about internships?
University and college degrees help you understand the industry, but if you want to find a way in, your best option is completing an internship. As you’ve heard a million times, internships are key. They are the best way to make contacts, obtain skills, and help introduce you to a potential future boss.
“It’s one of those untold dirty secrets of the industry that you have to do work experience. You [the student] get to impress them [the workplace] and they get to have you there to see if you’re a good fit for the office and if you fit into the team”, explains Stavrow. “But don’t just sit there and stand back only accepting the jobs given to you. Be proactive. Be hands on.”
Now, get started!
Whether completing a specific course, undertaking internships, or doing both – remember to dress for the part. Showcase your point of view and have a creative mindset to score your dream job within the fashion industry. Oh, and don’t forget to thank me when you’re the next Gianni Versace, Rachel Zoe or Anna Wintor. – Lauren Ripepi
Image from Michael Mandiberg’s Flickr photostream.