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How to get a job in the fashion industry

Oct 1, 2016

It can be a daunting decision to decide you want to work in the Fashion Industry. Growing up in the South and not going to a college dedicated to fashion, I did not have connections. Therefore, I had to be extremely proactive. I had to forge the way for myself. LinkedIn became my best friend, and go-to source for creating these much needed connections. 

Necessary tasks in order to get into the fashion industry:

  1. Subscribe to WWD, Business of Fashion, Fashionista and magazines (my favorites are: Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Business and Elle)
  2. Intern in multiple areas within the industry
  3. Make a spreadsheet tracker with the companies you want to work for
    1. Track when you reached out, when you followed up
    2. Connect with people who work at those companies on LinkedIn
    3. Send them an email once they accept your LinkedIn connection and try to schedule a phone call or coffee with them to learn about the culture, the company & their role
    4. Subscribe to those companies newsletters and stay on top of them, especially before your call or interview
  4. Build your network
  5. Have a phone call or coffee with people within the industry

It is imperative to stay up-to-date on the industry both when you are trying to land your first job, and all throughout your career. Time is limited, and therefore, subscribing to emails allows me to at least read through the headers. This helps me to get a sense of what happened that day, and flag what I need to later read through in full. Each publication will give a different viewpoint and insight into what’s going on. It’s valuable to get a global view. This will allow you to become more knowledgable about what’s going on than if you were to only read one.

Let’s talk about the importance of internships

Interning, even if you aren’t paid, is an invaluable experience. I didn’t know much about the different roles within the industry. I only knew from the ones held by those I had spoken with. Conversing with people is helpful, but you also need to experience it first-hand in order to know if you will like it, or if you would rather try something else. I would recommend having a well-rounded series of internships (for example in buying, publications, planning, etc) to try out multiple roles.

Can you switch career paths once you’ve started working?

It is difficult to switch career paths once you have a job. You may have to start again at entry-level instead of a lateral move. However, if you begin a position and realize it isn’t for you, changing roles may be worth it in order to reach your career goal. It’s easy to get pigeonholed into the career path you are currently on. Note that in today’s landscape there are no cookie cutter ways to have the career of your dreams. Communicate to the company you are interested in working for that your experience and skills translate well to the occupation of interest. 

Things to keep in mind

The fashion industry is extremely small. People constantly move around. It is wise to make as many connections as possible, and always treat the people with which you work in a respectable and poised way. They could end up at a company you’d like to work for. Remember that you may need that connection down the road. If the person knew what you were looking for, they could inform you about the position before it was posted. Not all roles are posted online.

It was helpful to speak with people at multiple companies and fields in order to get a sense of the types of roles out there. I would ask about their day-to-day tasks, pros/cons and career in order to determine if the path they were on would be of interest to me. Regardless if it was for me or not, I gained a better sense of the industry in which I was trying to break into. Learn more in this & this episode from The Style That Binds Us Podcast!

Good luck!

Delia Folk

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