Finding Your First Job in the Fashion Industry

‘’All jobs in fashion have to start somewhere!’’

When looking for jobs in fashion, don’t be too narrow minded in your searches. Remember that the fashion industry is huge and varied.

The Small Gig – fashion jobs in small companies

One way to broaden your scope of influence and get more creative, paid work quickly, is to land a job at a small independent fashion label. There are hundreds of tiny fashion design companies, ranging from a single designer/business owner and his or her assistant to a mid-size family business employing a small number of skilled workers. Try applying to one of these companies. If you have good technical skills and can prove it you are in with a good chance of getting paid work straight out of university.

To find these jobs, a good place to look is a free listings website. A lot of small businesses advertise jobs there because it is free and quick. Keep your eye on the postings and have your CV ready to send straight away – small companies hire quickly because they usually need the role filled straight away. Good news for you.

When applying to a small company, try not to be put off if the wages are not high – remember, you could be working as an intern and only receiving travel expenses. When you apply, they may ask you to do a few unpaid trial days, to test your skills. This is not unusual, and well worth doing – if you can do the job well they will snap you up. And if you are rejected, remember – that‘s another few days of work experience to put on your CV and a valuable insight into the workings of the job.

Working for a smaller company also gives you a chance to experience a much larger portion of the design process. If you can get a job working with a lone designer as his assistant, you may well be there with him at every stage, from sketches to samples. This is hard and challenging work, but it is a golden opportunity to gain invaluable experience. If you have draped patterns from first sketches in your first year of employment, and even overseen development of a design through to production, how impressive will you look to a potential employer when you are applying for your next a job as junior pattern cutter, or assistant studio manager?

The Big Gig – fashion jobs in large companies

The route chosen by many, many graduates is to go for an internship at one of the larger and more prestigious fashion houses. This obviously looks excellent on your CV as well, and may even result in the offer of paid work from the company you are interned with. However, it should be pointed out that this frequently is not the case.

The fashion intern is so much a part of the industry that many labels rely on a steady bedrock of interns, while more senior roles in the company are usually fleeting and do not come around that often. However much a company or designer may love your work and appreciate your skills, they do not always have a paid position available to offer you. However, this is no reason not to go for the internship – experience is as valuable as gold dust, and you will learn a lot. More importantly, if you can drop a BIG name on your CV or next job application, it will really make an impression.

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To apply for an internship at a large label, simply go to the company website and inquire.

Working for a large company obviously means you will become a small link in a long chain, and your position in that chain will determine how much of the design process you actually get to see. Each house has its own way of managing interns, so you may be a doing a bit of everything, or you may have quite a specific role from the get go. Either way, be prepared not to know what’s going on for quite a lot of the time to start with, and don’t be too disappointed if you don’t always get to see the fruits of your labour, when they are whisked away to the sample room or cutting studio. Remember, you WILL get to see them on the catwalk and in the media, and that is one of the most thrilling sensations you will ever experience