Considering a Fashion Career?
The allure of the fashion world is undeniable. Many people, young and old, take a look at the latest fashions in their favorite store, or read a fashion magazine, or watch a TV show like Project Runway, or help a friend pick out an excellent outfit complete with accessories and shoes, and then they think to themselves, “I should work in fashion.”
With so many fashion related jobs the options are numerous. It’s not limited to just fashion designer or fashion magazine editor/writer. In fact, those jobs are the end result of many years of hard work starting out at entry level, often hating those beginning jobs, sticking it through, and taking the right opportunities when they came. While many dream of those jobs and strive to obtain the position, it often begins with some sort of fashion or business schooling, an internship, working in clothing stores, assistant positions, and similar situations. Many go the path of becoming merchandisers, retail buyers, marketers, and other corporate positions. They involve fashion but are a more stable way to pay the bills.
If you are considering going to school for fashion, first get a reality check.
The economy is hurting every aspect of business and fashion is no exception. The amount of jobs available within any fashion sector are shrinking. Will this change anytime soon? No one knows. But keep in mind there is stiff competition in the fashion world.
Are you in a position where failure is an option? If you don’t have a viable backup plan to provide for yourself (and for many this includes providing for their kids too) then you shouldn’t pursue a career path that is so uncertain. Many positions within the fashion industry do not pay well and it takes years to advance into a career that actually can pay the bills in full. Most entry-level fashion jobs are unpaid internships.
Leave your attitude at the door. Any entry-level fashion job will be unglamorous, unpaid, or low paid, and require a lot of menial tasks. If you think you’re a fashion princess and deserve to be treated like a celebrity you will never make it. If you can put in the hard work and accept your beginning rank (while striving to advance over time with adequate experience) then you might just be able to survive those brutal first years of working in fashion.
Even if you do make it into a good fashion job, the pay rates are less than you might expect. For example: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2006 the median salary of a fashion designer was $62,610, but keep in mind the cost of living in highly concentrated fashion areas such as New York City and Los Angeles is much higher than most cities.
You’ve got to ask yourself if you are really passionate about your pursuits within fashion. Is it that you want to work for a fashion company because you think that would mean getting to wear all of the latest fashions, partying with celebrities, and jetting off to Paris to watch an endless parade of exciting fashion shows, you are probably confusing the lifestyle of a supermodel with that of a fashion industry professional. As read in the NY Times, it’s not easy getting into a fashion job. But if you really love what you do then give it all you’ve got and do it. If you love to spend countless hours sketching, sewing, and creating to where it’s all you want to do and you spend all of your free time doing it, then you’re clearly passionate about becoming a fashion designer. If you work for a department store and your favorite thing to do is to help customers find the right outfit to buy and they rave to your manager about your great work, then you might have what it takes for the job of a stylist. If you keep a fashion blog, devour every fashion article you comes across, and love to write, then pursuing working for a fashion magazine would clearly be your ideal job. But even having the skills and passion, there simply is only room for the best to make it to the top. It takes hard work, taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and being driven enough to keep going when you send out 100 resumes and have only heard no. The competition runs most people out of the game, but if you can handle the rejection then you probably have what it takes to succeed.
Success in the fashion industry is marked by the same factors as any job field. If you can work a job that you actually enjoy at least some aspect of it and earn enough to pay all of your bills then you are successful. If you are looking to get into fashion to become rich and famous you are probably better off trying out for American Idol. But if you love fashion and want to spend your life in the midst of it, then you’re going down the right path.