Breaking into the Fashion Industry


Trying to get a job after University is hard enough as it is, but if you want to work in the fashion industry (possibly one of the most difficult industries to break into), this can seem a near impossible task, especially if you don’t have a fashion degree or relevant experience. Fortunately, there are many different roles within the ‘Fashion Industry’, including designers, stylists, fashion buyers, fashion merchandisers and fashion journalists and the skillset and background that employers are looking for are as varied as the roles themselves.

Routes into the Industry

There are many different routes into the industry; through graduate schemes, entry level positions, or starting in a junior position such as an admin assistant, and working your way up the job ladder. It is important to remember that any experience in the industry is better than no experience.

There are many fashion companies which offer graduate scheme programmes in fashion buying and merchandising, such as TK Maxx, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Fenwicks and the Arcadia Group. These companies can recruit once or twice a year, so it’s important to check the careers section of their websites regularly.

Another route that you may wish to consider is doing an unpaid internship or work experience for a fashion house; experience in the industry is priceless and having spoken to people in the industry, it is clear that actual experience is far more valuable than qualifications. Larger companies will often actively look for interns (for example, Asos were taking applications for an internship recently), but if you want to work for a smaller company, you may wish to email their HR department and let them know that you would be willing to do some unpaid work for them. Although you may begin as an unpaid intern, these roles can lead to a permanent role within the company.

Making Your Applications and CV Stand Out

The fashion industry is extremely competitive, and it’s important to show genuine passion and knowledge of the industry. And if you aren’t successful in your first interview, don’t give up, there are many ways that you can make yourself more appealing to potential employers. You may want to take a short course in a specific area such as fashion buying or fashion journalism to strengthen your profile. However, these courses can be expensive and it may be worth checking with potential employers that the course will add value and help you to ascertain the role you are going after. Another thing to consider is to start your own fashion blog, this shows a potential employer that you have initiative, that you have passion for the industry and tells them a bit about your personal style.

Tips and Tricks for Interviews

If you have managed to land an interview for a job in the fashion industry, there are a few things to bear in mind. Firstly, it is crucial that you are up-to-date with current trends, the more comprehensive, working knowledge you have of the industry, the better prepared you will be for interview questions. The information you will need to know will vary depending on where the company sits in the market. For example, if you are applying for a position in a high street fashion retailer you must know about their competitors on the high street and how trends are translated from catwalks, to the store. If, however, you are applying for a position in a high end retailer such as Net-A-Porter, it is crucial to have a working knowledge of designer’s catwalks and collections.

As we all know, first impressions are important, even more so in an interview situation, and, as you would expect, your interview outfit is especially important for a fashion related job interview – it should express your own personal style but it must also be in line with the style of the company you are applying to (for this reason you may wish to purchase an item of clothing from the company you are interviewing for, if they are a merchandiser).


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