Glossy magazines, runway models, photoshoots, style, glitz and glamour; it’s hard not to be taken in by the allure of fashion. It’s a feel good industry and the public are investing heavily in it. Being fashionable and on-trend will not save lives or solve world debt but the attraction of this somewhat superficial and fickle industry is growing globally. According to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index the global fashion industry has grown in the past decade by 5.5 percent annually; and is now estimated to be worth $2.4 trillion.
Surely such a massive industry must hold opportunity for young aspiring fashionistas? Of course it does, but breaking into this cut throat business is no mean feat. The problem for most is knowing how to gain entry into this elusive sector.
Read the tips below to give you an idea of how you can break into fashion.
6 Tips to Break into Fashion1. Identify where your interest in fashion lies
When one thinks of fashion often romantic images spring to mind: a fashion designer sketching in the corner of a busy design studio, or perhaps a dressmaker caressing fabrics and sorting through trimmings to choose the right fabric weight and embellishments for their latest creation. Whatever your image you need to work out if this romantic notion in something you like to do?
Do you sketch? Are you familiar with fabrics? Do you make your own clothes?
Are you fashionable? Do you follow the latest trends? Or maybe you set your own trends? Do you read about fashion? There are hundreds of fashion blogs out there. Are you following them?
Is it the whole package; clothes, hair, make-up that interests you or are you more taken by one of these? If you are more interested in hair and make-up perhaps you should be considering the beauty sector?
2. Consider all the roles in Fashion
Fashion extends way beyond the design and creation of clothes. In fact the real money to made in fashion lies in business and sales.
Think of fashions shows; look at all the roles involved in putting on a fashion show.
- Fashion designer
- Dressmaking / Tailoring
- Hair Stylist
- Make Up Artist
- Event management
- Event production
- Fashion journalism
These are just a flavour of the many roles involved in the fashion industry. Work out which roles interest you.
3. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
Learning the fashion trade takes time. You will need to be patient and be prepared to take on low paid employment to gain the experience you need to progress. Consider starting in a boutique or fashion chain store. Even at the most basic sales assistant level you are learning and gaining experience. You will soon learn what products fly off the shelves and what the latest trends and colours are. You will an develop eye for fads and fashions crazes and what is most likely to be snapped up quickly.
Those who are really interested in the industry will learn about stock ordering and notice how boutiques are always planning for the next season. In larger department stores you will see all the different roles in action e.g. shop managers, buyers, visual display designers. Endeavour to assist these workers to learn what their role entails. Visual display designers spend hours dressing shop windows and mannequins to entice customers; volunteer to help them to gain experience or ask to spend time working alongside the shop buyer to learn how s/he chooses stock for the next season.
Think of your low paying job as a traineeship where you are gaining experience to prepare you for your next job. In some companies there may even be opportunity to work up through the ranks.
4. Study Fashion in College
Fashion courses are available in Further Education and University. The Art colleges provide fashion students with a solid foundation in design and creation; these courses provide a really good base for fashion designers and dressmakers/tailors. You can find fashion courses in NCAD, LIT and Griffith College. These colleges host annual fashion shows for students to showcase their work. They have strong links with industry connecting students to work placements and internships. Other courses of interest to fashion students include: Fashion with Promotion in Letterkenny IT and Visual Merchandising and Display in DIT.
Further Education has plenty to offer also. Fashion Design courses feature heavily in the offerings as well as fashion courses linked to retail. Most courses have QQI links. For a full list of fashion courses at PLC level click here.
Outside of CAO and Further Education there is the opportunity to study fashion at a private college such as The Grafton Academy. Some of Grafton’s famous alumni include the biggest names in Irish Fashion today such as: Carolyn Donnelly, Paul Costello (both of whom you may recognise from their lines in Dunnes Stores) as well as Louise Kennedy, Umit Kutluk, Edel Traynor, Emma Manley, and wedding dress designers Sharon Hoey and Edel Tuite. This is only a selection of the Grafton graduates who have made it big.
The following private colleges also offer courses in fashion. These courses are applied for by direct entry.
5. Get Networking
Studying fashion at college is all well and good but not every fashion graduate will have a successful fashion career. If you want to make it big in this dog-eat-dog industry you need to be good! In order to be good you need to have the skills, you need to live and breathe fashion and you need to be discovered.
You won’t be discovered if you spend all your time at your sewing machine perfecting your creations. No one will see your wonderful work if you don’t network.
Attend fashion events and get mingling. Introduce yourself and make as many new contacts as you can. You need to get known in this industry to make your mark.
Get blogging or vlogging. Start following fashion blogs and if you can, start a blog yourself. Even if no one is reading your blog you are constantly learning and challenging yourself and in the process you are developing a backlog of work that will act as your online portfolio. When you start getting followers there will already be lots of your own material there for them to scan through. This is your career capital.
Get on social media platforms. Start posting on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. This is a great way to get your name out there in the ether, to start building a following and get noticed.
6. How to get Launched - Fashion Designer Platforms in Ireland
Create is a project with the department store Brown Thomas. Create aims to identify emerging Irish fashion design talent and launching successful designers’ products in-store.
Wearing Irish is an initiative to promote contemporary Irish fashion on the international stage, providing mentorship for Irish business as they operate within the global luxury market.