Working in fashion: What are your options after education?5 min read
If you’ve finished education and are thinking of pursuing a job in the fashion industry, there are many different options out there that are different to the obvious ones that you may have already considered, like fashion models and designers. Whether it’s a role as a fashion journalist you’re after, or something more technical like a garment technologist, the possibilities are almost endless. Here we’ve enlisted the help of CT Shirts, retailer of men’s casual shirts, to explore what your options are:
1. Pattern graders
Pattern graders are much needed in the fashion sector. They focus on producing scaled-up and scaled-down versions of design patterns, which enables the manufacturers to produce the same patterned piece of clothing in different sizes. Some of the main tasks of a pattern grader include; tracing the outline of a pattern with scanning equipment, quality checking to ensure that the final pattern is in-line with the original design and creating sample garments from the pattern to send to prospective buyers.
You’ll need to have a good grasp of mathematics, as well as an interest in design. You must be able to take accurate measurements and make calculations in order to scale the patterns correctly. It’s also important that you enjoy being part of a team, so to cooperate with others in the design process, and be able to confidently use IT to work with a digitising table.
A degree isn’t necessary for this role. Instead, you could take the apprenticeship route through college by studying subjects such as fashion or textiles. Or, work your way up from an assistant or pattern cutter to become a grader in a fashion company.
2. Garment technologist
You may not have even heard of a garment technologist, but they are in demand in the world of fashion. This role is largely about quality control and investigative work with regards to the materials that are used to create fashion pieces. The main role of these individuals is to work on design and development of new materials. Through testing new combinations of materials and fibres, people in this role look to find the best type of fabric for what’s to be made. These people work closely with designers, pattern graders and buying teams to find the right type of fabric for what’s to be made.
Another part of this job is to improve production techniques and help the company become more efficient.
Your job will also involve ensuring that production runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This might be to do with price, and would involve liaising with buyers and suppliers to negotiate a cost that’s within the budget of the project. Or, they might be looking to make the company more sustainable, and therefore the technologist would investigate the production of the fabrics. You’ll need to be aware of the textiles and manufacturing process and have an interest in the creative work that goes into clothing production. Employers may also expect you to have a degree in a related topic, such as garment technology and production, or you may complete a module around this as part of a wider subject. Or, look out for apprenticeship schemes and junior roles, where you can work your way up to this role.
3. Fashion journalist
Fashion journalism involves writing about a range of related topics, such as trends, accessories, and celebrity fashion. A fashion journalist is no longer limited to securing a job for a print publication — with a range of online magazines out there, there are more opportunities available. You could also go freelance, but work isn’t guaranteed here. As part of the job, you’ll likely be required to travel and meet new people to conduct interviews and get the latest on fashion stories.
The path to becoming a fashion journalist is quite straightforward. A creative flair, love for writing and an interest in fashion will put you in good stead to becoming a fashion journalist, but there are some educational choices that you can make to better your chances of getting a career in this field. Choosing A-levels such as English Language will further your creative writing skills, for example. There are specialty degrees out there too, such as the Fashion Communications course which will teach you more about the sector and increase your employability.
As well as this, it helps to have a portfolio of your previous work in writing. Start your own fashion blog to write about the latest news in the sector and approach editors for freelance opportunities. Networking is also a great way to get to know about future vacancies. Try to secure unpaid work in relevant positions to build your experience too.
4. Fashion accountant
If you’re a whizz with numbers and also have a flair for fashion, you could consider becoming a fashion accountant. There are a range of finance roles available in the fashion sector — from retail accountants to accountants in textiles who ensure that a budget is adhered to when buying materials. Roles like this allow you to be involved with designers and the garment-making process, whilst keeping finances under control.
Obviously, a maths background will put you at an advantage. Start by taking Maths at A-level and progress to studying a financial role at university. This might be Economics, Accounting or another form of Financial Studies. As part of your degree, take up the opportunity to undergo a year in industry — this can give you an insight into the field that you’re going into and give you some invaluable experience to put on your CV.
5. Fashion illustrators
As a fashion illustrator, your job will be to make the garment look appealing on paper. They work closely with designers to create conceptual sketches and illustrations of fashion products. In addition to this, they may produce advertising copy and images for promotional material for print and online coverage. To succeed in this role, you need to be able to use computer design, as well as drawing by hand and have an eye for fashion.
As for academic credentials, people working in this field typically have a graphic design degree. To get accepted onto a degree of this kind, you will need GCSEs and potentially A levels, or entry based on passing a foundation course. Alternatively, you can build up a strong portfolio and gain experience in relevant positions to impress prospective employees.
As shown here, there are many different ways into the fashion industry that you might not have thought of before. It’s all about being proactive and showing potential employers what you’re capable of. Good luck!