Fashion careers are right on trend
BY CAMILLA HARRISON
The winter months are in full swing! We’ve dug out our woollen scarves and our summer wardrobes have been packed away for another year. Meanwhile in the fashion world, buyers, designers, journalists and stylists are already looking at samples of swimwear, cotton dresses and sandals for next spring, summer and beyond…. Fashion is an industry which constantly looks ahead, not only by predicting what we’ll all be wearing this time next year but also by embracing advances in textile technology and utilising the latest digital innovation.
The UK fashion industry’s contribution to the economy amounts to a staggering £26 billion per annum and nationally it provides around 797,000 jobs, fashion remains a popular career choice. Notoriously fast-paced, the fashion industry is driven by the demands of the consumer and as much as it thrives on taking inspiration from the past, the fashion industry has a bright future and doing a degree in an aspect of this broad subject will help prepare you for the demands of working in this challenging industry.
A degree in fashion design will equip you with technical skills in drawing and pattern cutting, an understanding of how to map and predict trends, and information on contemporary issues surrounding fashion, such as ethical manufacturing and distribution.
Bear in mind that before applying for an arts-related degree, you may need to complete an art foundation course – a one year programme, post-A-levels and two years for post-GCSE students.
For those less enamoured of the delights of the sewing machine, there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere in the industry, ranging from fashion photography and styling to merchandising and journalism. If you are more interested in the business and retail side of fashion, you could choose to study a degree in fashion management, PR, retail branding or buying, for example.
Whilst doing a degree is an ideal starting block, the value of work experience in an industry overflowing with wannabes is the first step to standing out from the crowd. Work in your local clothes shop, contribute work to start-up magazines – it’s never too early to start building up your fashion portfolio. Starting at the bottom as the dedicated tea maker in a busy, fashion industry office could provide you with the contacts you need to kick-start your career. Why not give yourself a voice online and set up your own style blog? It’s a sure-fire way to prove that you are self-motivated and passionate about fashion. In an industry which relies heavily on networking, never underestimate the power of communication and engaging with others and be confident – in yourself, your ideas and your skills.
As an A-level student struggling to see beyond my next day at college, it took me a while to see that I could turn my passion into my future. Working part-time, I would spend all my wages on magazines thick with fashion editorials and trips to London to see exhibitions. Despite taking A-level textiles, I wasn’t especially skilled with the practical side of design and found myself enjoying the theoretical elements of the course much more. I developed an obsession with Central St. Martin’s College of Art – the university where some of my idols (namely Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Jarvis Cocker) had all studied. When I discovered they offered a BA degree in Fashion History and Theory I was determined to follow in their footsteps. Thanks to an internship at the Birmingham Art Gallery and many nights of studying my fashion library, I gained a place on the course.
Whilst studying, I garnered as much experience as I could as an intern, in all areas of the industry and had a job to subsidise my university fees (and clothes habit!) Interning could be tough but the experience was invaluable. I now work as a freelance fashion writer and have set up my own company, writing for various print and online publications as well as working with fashion and lifestyle brands on their written content.
The world of fashion can have a bad reputation – like most high-powered industries it is extremely competitive and you have to learn to deal with rejection. In spite of this, and most importantly, it is an amazingly vibrant industry, which embraces individuality and champions the unique. If this sounds like your kind of environment, then harness your passion and dive into this fast-paced, stimulating world.
To get the latest on Camilla’s career in fashion, visit her blog: www.camillaflora.com
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