Fashion is a great industry to work in – whether you aim for a job as a designer, stylist, editor, buyer, photographer or publicist. However, a job behind the scenes of What We Will Wear Next Season might seem nearly impossible to enter. Here is how it’s done.
Step 1: Find your people
A lot of people say they want to ‘work in fashion’. You need to be a little more precise here. Do you want to be a style editor? Do you want to be a designer? And if so, what kind of clothes do you want to make? It’s very important to know what direction you want to go, what your contribution will be to the fashion world. The final plan might change along the way, but the most significant habit you need to cultivate is to work on yourself and grow the talent you already have. Once you’ve got that straight – you need to start applying for every job and internship that might get you a step further in your career. Your current “job” is being the perfect candidate.
“If you want to be the one to select the next Harper’s Bazaar cover in the long run, you might find yourself making invoices or running for coffee first.”
Step 2: All experience is good experience
It’s not crazy to apply for 10 – 20 internships if necessary. This is a great exercise. When you start your first internship, it may occur to you that a lot of tasks are very mundane. If you want to be the one to select the next Harper’s Bazaar cover in the long run, you might find yourself making invoices or (a classic!) running for coffee first. It might not be your dream job, but you obtain vital experience and connections that will get you to the next big thing, so always remain positive. You’ll be surprised how small the industry can be.
Have you seen September Issue (documentary about Anna Wintour)? Anna gets major jobs for young and aspiring designer Thakoon at Mango and The Gap – he impressed her a long time ago. Oh, and by the way – The Great Jobs with capital letters are not always so glamorous either, your internship is a good indication of what you’re in for.
Step 3: Work your PR muscle
Dare to be persistent. You only need one person to see your potential and take a chance on you. Nowadays, you have the advantage of social media to stand out. Follow and interact with brands and insiders that are related to the segment you want to work in. Follow them on twitter and instagram, drop them a couple of likes every now and then, and learn more about their work. Make sure you don’t follow or comment on any private accounts (definitely off limits)!
Also make sure your own account is that of someone who would fit their company. Your profile is your online portfolio after all. And speaking of portfolio – people will notice if you laboured over the typography in your resume or made sure all of your imagery is color corrected and crisp. So definitely make sure your real life portfolio stands out as well.
P.S.: Don’t forget to strategically be present on all the possible fashion events (or even the coffee house where your Boss To Be gets their cappuccino). Remain social, avoid being clingy – and mind your Champagne intake.
“You have to show them that you are willing to bite off more than you can chew. Jobs in fashion are never limited to the task list.”
Step 4: Do your homework
When applying for a job, you need to do your research (what did we say about social media?). Getting your outfit and resume right is one thing, but you really need to know a thing or two about the company you want to work for. Show up bright and early, prepare the answers for possible questions and make sure you are familiar with the last work, collection, magazine,… of the brand. It never hurts to Google your interviewer and learn more about their body of work. Impressing someone is often simply taking the time to genuinely appreciate what they do. If you need advice on clothes – don’t just simply go for the safe black blazer. You want to work in fashion, darling! I’m not saying you should show up in a last season’s Galliano gown, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.
Step 5: Think big and… pick up the phone
Submit through Human Resources, but don’t be afraid to send a personal e-mail to the editor with your resume expressing your interest as well. It’s polite to email them asking for 15 minutes of their time, followed up once if necessary (otherwise you’re just stalking them). Your phone is your best friend, you would be surprised how many e-mails get stuck in the SPAM folder (and stay there because no one ever calls in addition). Another common mistake people make is that they only apply when a company has a job posting. Show your spontaneous effort and you might get hired for something even better. The bottom line is that you have to show that you are willing to bite off more than you can chew. Jobs in fashion are never limited to the task list on the HR’s job description – you need to prove them your ambition and willingness to grow.