I think it’s safe to say that most of us had, once in our life, “working in fashion” on our list of dream jobs before or after heading to college, hell even during a midlife crisis, but what does a career in fashion really mean and how glamorous is it?
Whether you’re just starting your career or still studying, there are a few things you should note, especially regarding the million misconceptions of the profession as portrayed by the media, TV and Hollywood. That’s right, you’ve all guessed it, we’re talking about The Devil Wears Prada, and whilst sometimes stereotypes are more or less spot on, we can assure you that those of the fashion industry are mostly false.
Helpful tips before you take the plunge…
For one, not everyone (and barely anyone) in fashion is creative or knows how to draw or sow to be cool enough to design a collection. The fashion industry is a business and there are loads of different career options such as buying, PR, editorial, marketing, tech, communication, journalism, photography, blogging, modelling etc. Don’t worry, you won’t have to learn or even like to sow to begin your career. If you’re currently studying business, or working in a technology-oriented field, you can still head towards a career in fashion. That’s one of the great aspects of working in such a fast-paced time where things are changing constantly – whatever skill you pick up along the way can be helpful for your next career move.
Secondly, don’t listen to what people say, not everyone in the fashion industry is a horrible and heartless person. Just like any other jobs, some people are more difficult to work with than others, but don’t avoid working in fashion because of that. On that note, people that work in fashion do not have a problem with food and they don’t all go through a makeover like in the movies. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the line to their local pizza station is always busier than to the salad bar, and most employees (that don’t hold senior positions) do show up in standard jeans and t-shirts. But of course, if you make it up there, your boss will certainly expect you to dress the part.
What should you expect at the job…
Upon reading a few blogs about people’s experiences after a year or two of working for their dream jobs at Vogue, Net-a-Porter and Harper’s Bazaar, I can safely report back that they were all disappointed in the harsh, stressful, and hectic reality of Fashion Week. With plenty of work behind the scenes, most people working in the field aren’t able to enjoy the parties, unless you’re a celebrity that is. So if you’re looking to head in that direction, try to apply for an internship or two during Fashion Week to truly feel the atmosphere (it’s apparently also a great time to learn the basics). Another not-so-jolly news is that the fashion industry is hard work, and definitely not your typical 9-5 job. You will work long hours and often be asked to stay longer after work or come to work on weekends if a new collection comes out. Oh, and you’ll be expected to work overtime (and not be paid for it). But hey! hard work pays off, and once you prove yourself you’ll be able to make your way up and have more responsibilities.
Let’s talk salary expectations – what better timing than right after Equal Pay Day? Unfortunately for us fashion lovers, the salaries are pretty standard, but quite low to start with. For example, an editorial assistant in London earns between £17k-19k during the first year or 2, whereas a fashion software engineer with 4 years of experience can ear up to £67k. Similarly to other businesses, people working in departments such as technology, finance, recruitment or even PR, with a few years of experience, can expect to make on average £40k-60k. As you can imagine, fashion is a competitive market, and to increase your salary, you’ve got to show you’re an essential asset. However, don’t despair if you’re not analytical or tech-savvy – fashion is a fast moving industry where you’ll get plenty of opportunities to learn and grow, expand your horizons and make your way up.
Why it’s an amazing place to work, including the perks…
Benefits, did I mention company benefits yet? Because this is one of the most interesting factors of working in this field (as well as the most attractive). Employees, whether they work at companies like H&M or Ralph Lauren get between 20%-30% off of new collections and have attractive company perks such as health care, sick leave, maternity leave and gym membership discounts. The company benefits are usually what convince people to join a specific company, especially if you have children or need flexible working hours. At the end of the day, fashion is a passion-oriented business and most employees will be working in the field for a reason, whether it’s to start their own line, for their love of fashion. With an average of 60%-70% positive experiences when comparing 5 companies in London, there’s a high chance that if you choose that path, you’ll gain plenty of skills, training and understanding of the business within a short period of time, whilst also enjoying it.
And finally, like any other jobs, you must keep a positive attitude and show your persistence. Don’t act like you’ve made it after you’ve passed your second interview for an internship at a magazine. If you want to start a career in fashion, you have to be determined and confident, because as you can imagine, it is a highly competitive field so you better know what sets you apart. You’ll also need a thick skin, and take on criticism because you will be working for someone else until you can make it on your own.
The best companies to work for in 2017
If you’re seriously considering starting a career a fashion, you should make a thorough research on the kind of employers you want to work for, which best reflect your goals, ambitions and aesthetics. We’ve lined up a list of the best companies to work for in regards to employee satisfaction based on feedback from over 2,600 industry professionals.
- CALVIN KLEIN
- COTTON ON GROUP
- GALERIES LAFAYETTE
- GAP INC.
- LEVI STRAUSS & CO.
- NORDSTROM INC.
- TOMMY HILFIGER
- WARBY PARKER
Keep in mind that fashion is a thriving, dynamic and exciting industry to work in, so if you work hard, keep your head down and get things down, you’ll nail your dream job before you know it!
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