5 Tips for Breaking into the Fashion Industry at Any Age was originally published on Vault.
A career in the fashion industry, to recent grads or career-switchers, can seem like an elusive dream—only for the privileged, polished, experienced elite. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. With the right attitude and work ethic, anyone at any age can break into the fashion industry. And here are some tips that will help.
1. Consider a degree within your budget.
A career in fashion means you need to be equipped with the right knowledge and skill set. If you’re not going into business for yourself, take note that many employers will still look to your degree along with your experience, which is why getting at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree related to art or fashion is still important for those who don’t have direct associations with big fashion companies. Also note that the cost of getting a fashion degree varies widely, depending on the school you want to get into. So it’s wise to consider your budget and ability to handle student loans after graduation.
2. Think about your niche.
Whether you’re planning to run your own business or work for a big fashion company, it’s important that you stand out as a professional. This means you have to know your niche and build on that identity. In fashion, it’s better to be a master of a single niche than to be a jack of all trades. That is, you’ll be better recognized if you do a single thing well, rather than try to please all audiences by designing or creating many products. For example, if your focus is bridal wear, don’t try to delve right away into swimsuis. If your passion is women’s handbags and shoes, don’t include non-related items in your line like babywear. Focus on your niche, and attempt to be recognized in this area first before expanding.
3. Don’t forget to network.
These days, networking can be done easily through digital means, not just through in-person meetups. Boris Hokadel, CEO of online marketplace Sewport, recommends that fashion newbies take advantage of the digital sphere to create networks with fashion companies, suppliers, and designers to get their brand names to be more recognized. This can be done by creating your own fashion website or blog, while also boosting your social media accounts. It’s also essential to attend fashion exhibits, expos, or other events where you can meet and network with others. And don’t be intimidated by big names. Be confident in who you are and be prepared to exchange business cards when needed. These small steps can help you generate leads and important partnerships that will further your fashion career.
4. Understand the trends.
People who are passionate about their craft continuously improve by understanding the recent trends in which their audience is interested. You can do this by subscribing to fashion magazines, looking up influencers on social media, and reading articles on websites about fashion. The formula of successful fashion design or product is a mix of going with the trends, while still keeping it unique for your audience. While researching on trends, be sure to also consider the core values that you and/or your company represent. Do you value style, functionality, elegance, or comfort? Be sure to always stay in line with these core values so you can incorporate it with the recent trends.
5. Be yourself.
Although fashion is an industry, it’s also an art—it’s an expression of who you are. Trends can come and go, but true fashion experts don’t only rely on them for profits; they can set trends themselves as well. When trying to work with clients or serving consumers, it also helps to allow your creativity to shine. This means searching for inspiration in things around you—nature, people you read about or watch, other people’s art, etc. Also find inspiration with what’s inside you: what things do you consider beautiful and inspiring? These combinations of ideas will help you build something creative that could be a way to help you build an identity for yourself.
Tomas Smith is a production process specialist at Sewport—an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers—and former advisor to various clothing manufacturing businesses. He is passionate about process optimization and all things related to garment manufacturing, writing, and sharing his knowledge with the world.