Fashion can be one of the trickiest industries to break into. All the glamour and glory of photographers snapping away, runway models and exotic location shoots can lead you to have starstruck eyes for the fashion industry, but even if you have a degree from FIT or FIDM, the playing field can seem limited.
So, what is a fashionista to do? Perhaps you weren’t blessed with the artistic ability in the family, or you can barely plug in a sewing machine let alone operate one. Rest assured, there are a variety of jobs in fashion that can suit your skill set.
It all boils down to finding your niche and knowing how to apply your fabulous talent appropriately. The main ingredient is passion, and if you’ve stumbled along this article, you are probably headed in the right direction.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, it may come as a shock to you that just about everything these days revolves around the digital space. Influencers, e-commerce and online resales are all the hype, so keep that in mind as you are on your quest.
In hopes of guiding those who feel justifiably lost in this continuously shifting, store-closing and layoff-heavy industry, we’ve conducted a list of options.
Top 10 Jobs In The Fashion Industry:
1. Fashion Designer
Naturally, we all want to be the next Marc Jacobs, Coco Chanel or Tom Ford. It’s quite appealing with such a broad range of design options – from khakis to haute couture. If you’ve got an eye for color, fabrics and fit there are a wide variety of options in this field. The most successful fashion designers can draw, sew and envision a future where fashion hasn’t quite yet been.
It’s a high-profile career and there are many options from retail, couture or freelance design. But don’t let Project Runway fool you – there are a lot of blood, sweat and tear-filled moments associated with design and not everyone makes it. You’ll need thick skin and a deep belief in your abilities.
Average Salary – $65,000
2. Retail Buyer
Stocking, sourcing, trending and budgeting – if those words excite you, retail fashion buying is for you. This position requires a keen eye and ability to make smart choices for fashion outlets, in terms of which items to carry, when to purchase them and how to meet customer demands. You’ll need a passion for details and want to steer the course of the consumers’ fashion future.
Note, you’ll be working with a lot of numbers so math and finance are critical to this position. Being able to forecast styles and know how to maximize a budget accordingly can seem like a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Average Salary – $58,000
It’s all about profitability for fashion merchandising. This role requires you to work closely with retail buyers and ensure a store is supplying and staging the right clothing/accessories at the right time for the right clientele. You’ll have the opportunity to create promotions, sales and anything that contributes to the revenue of the outlet. Merchandisers understand the aesthetics of positioning and portraying fashion ensembles that appeal to customers. This position requires a critical eye and the pursuit of perfection. It’s all about the details.
Average Salary – $26,000
4. Fashion Illustrator
If sketching and illustrating comes naturally to you, you could be one of the fashion industry’s most coveted professionals. Whether you are helping a designer bring their vision to life, or helping a retail outlet with advertising, these professionals are hard to find. With the emerging technology landscape, illustrating is now more advanced than ever. And the competition has increased as fashion illustrators are charged with creating new ideas, concepts and styles. You’ll have to learn to take some direction and collaborate to make this career flourish.
Average Salary – $52,000
5. Fashion Stylist
It’s more than playing dress-up. Those who work as fashion stylists are able to translate a vision to reality. If you know how to piece items together, match accessories and represent a brand, whether it’s from the designer’s eye or a retail outlet, these masterminds are crucial in the fashion industry. These visionaries are challenged with working with a variety of media organizations, publications and online features. They work closely with a photography team to showcase the best and brightest in fashion.
It may require a bit of running around to stores and fashion houses, but usually you’ll be armed with a credit card and plenty of hangers for all the gorgeous garments you secure. Plus, the models will be your new best friends.
Average Salary – $33,000
6. Textile Designer
Do 2D design creations get your heart racing? Then this is the role for you! Textile designers work on prints for fabrics. It requires creativity and some technical knowledge, but the fashion industry is in strong need of more professionals with these skills. This is crucial for fashion to be created. But if shopping at Mood has taught us anything, it’s that there is plenty of room for creativity and eccentricity in this space.
Average Salary – $55,000
7. Fashion Publicist
Got the gift for gab? Are your writing skills stellar? This job is all about showcasing designers and brands to the public. You’ve got to be savvy with communication, juggling multiple balls in the air and knowing all about fashion trends. You’ll communicate to journalists, influencers, bloggers and the like.
It’s often considered one of the more glamorous fashion jobs, but there are also grueling hours of event-planning, media tours, and the right finesse required to get coverage in the biggest and best publications. Because the publishing space is shrinking, more effort is required to earn digital mentions and features of the brands or designers you will support. But nothing is more satisfying than getting your client featured by Anna Wintour and the rest of the fashion industry leaders.
Average Salary – $54,000
8. Fashion Writer
If the pen (or keyboard) is your most powerful weapon, you’ve got a future as a fashion writer. Taking up a fashion writing career means you may work for a major publication or you’re a freelancer, but either way, fashion publicists are going to be your new best friends. You’ll write about the latest and greatest in fashion and influence the masses. One of the perks is that you may be offered samples to wear, test, photograph and write about. But, as with any journalism position, job security is low and there is a bit of turnover in the industry. You may find yourself working for multiple publications during the course of your career.
Average Salary – $52,000
9. Influencer Marketing Manager
The uptick with influencers has changed the fashion industry and how people consume information and images revolving around fashion. What was once a small portion of what publicists handled has grown into a full career phenomenon. Influencers worldwide gather acclaim and eyeballs on their Instagram posts and other popular social media.
For this position, you’ve got to know how to work your audience – virtually, and secure relationships with fashion designers, firms and retail locations to showcase fashion goods and get people interested. One of the main perks is all the freebies! Often times you’ll be gifted fashion items and accessories and get paid to promote these in addition. But don’t let the glamour of this position fool you – you’ll need a top-notch phone and know all about “unboxing” and angles for providing compelling pictures and video.
Average Salary – $61,000
10. Digital Customer Service/Community Manager
As we touched on earlier, the digital space continues to gain momentum as e-commerce brings in the bucks. Jobs in this arena require both logistical and operational skills, so you’ll have to be able to juggle, switch gears and appease the masses. This is a hybrid role where you communicate in customers in real-time through direct messaging and email.
One reason people flocking to this occupation is because typically this can be a remote/work-from-home job. However, you may be working at all hours depending on the company or companies you work for/with. Customer service can make or break a relationship with a loyalist and word spreads fast on the internet. But if you’ve got a knack for communicating, you’re golden in this profession.
Average Salary – $48,000
While this isn’t a conclusive list of how you can find a career in fashion, it should give a roadmap as to where you can take your career based on your talents.
As long as there are humans, there will be a need for fashion, so have faith that you can find a position in this constantly evolving territory. As brands and companies work to meet the demands of today’s marketplace, those who work in the fashion industry must keep up as well.
The reality is most companies are looking to hire a “jack of all trades” so you may want to diversify your skills as much as possible to beat out the competition. And while it’s rare to find someone who can do it all, the more you can offer just increases your chances of being the perfect candidate. As Tim Gunn would say, “make it work.”