Career opportunities in Fashion Business Management
A handy guide to help you identify your future job title in the dynamic fashion industry
Looking from the outside the generic view towards studying fashion has always meant either training to become a fashion designer or it’s about modeling, hair and makeup. There isn’t much awareness about the vastness of the industry. Yet as any student of Fashion Business Management or Fashion Design would know the industry today offers a multitude of job opportunities to explore and choose from that help transition from passion to a strategic career path and financial growth.
“Fashion is about today and tomorrow. You’ve basically never made it,” says Paul Smith summing up the versatility of the fashion industry.
The plethora of jobs in the industry isn’t easily visible but here’s a glimpse of the age-old and new age careers options that you can access to carve out your niche in your personal journey of growth.
Fashion Design and Production Process
Fashion Designers are the creative minds behind clothes making and showcase their collections on the catwalk season after season. It requires them to work with a collective of people with different specialized skillsets. They either create their own labels or design for an established brand.
Pattern makers are skilled professionals who take the designer’s ideas and without diluting the core idea and design, translate them into a blueprint or template either by hand or software. They take into account seam types, interfacings, finishes, closures, sizing, etc. to develop a manufacturable product. They work for fashion designers, retail companies, textile companies, design studios and manufacturing facilities. Self-employed pattern makers also choose to work with multiple clients simultaneously or provide consultancy to emerging designers.
Sample makers are tasked with getting the design right thereby moving the creative idea from concept to completion. They’re integral to the garment construction and product development process and include the stages of first proto, fit sample, and sale sample, size run and pre-production. At every stage fine tuning and adjustment is required to fix the flaws. Multiple samples are created to help with pattern revisions, price quotes and sourcing by manufacturers, for the interested buyer to evaluate and for the website and photo shoot. They work for design studios, fashion houses, retail companies, apparel and manufacturing companies, textile companies, and independent designers.
Tech Designers form a bridge between the design process and garment production by putting a tech pack together. It includes various details for the production team, such as final sketch of garment or accessory, materials to be used, fabric shrinkage, thread color, stitch gauges, buttons, and zipper details, packaging instructions, label or hangtag placement, wash description, sewing details, and points of measurement. They work as part of a collaborative team of designers, merchandisers, and manufacturers.
Fashion Illustrators work for a fashion designer or design house to create clothing designs making them marketable and visually appealing. Depending on the requirement, designs are created by hand using artistic mediums like pencil, charcoal, pastels or paints, or through Photoshop. These drawings are used by stylists and buyers, and for advertising and sales purposes.
Costume designers have a deep understanding of fashion and clothing history, design and trends and are responsible for finding, creating or hiring the costumes for every character on film or TV show or theatre, music video etc. They play an important role to make the production believable and visually appealing.
Textile designers create design patterns for woven, knitted and printed fabrics. They have an in-depth understanding of textile construction and manufacturing along with technical outlook towards function, care and durability. Their creative vision covers textures and non-repeating designs, which simultaneously inspire collections, trends and styles. Traditionally, drawing of patterns was translated on to point papers which weavers used to set up their looms. Textile Print designers expand their repertoire by creating original artworks of patterns using computed aided design software. It improves productivity especially when creating repeat seasonal prints and patterns and colourations Apparel brands and designers hire in-house print designers or use the services of a print design agency.
Weavers work within the textiles industry to create woven fabrics. Many have now moved from using traditional handlooms to highly technical computerized weaving looms. The others who provide support and form part of the design team include Trim designers who design buttons, zippers, lace, trims, piping, fringe etc. Knitters and Crochet makers provide specialized support for small batches of products. Embellishment design and services include beading, embroidery, appliques, dye-houses, wash-houses (especially for denims), laser cutting, debossing and embossing.
Backend services are also provided by production pattern makers, grading, markers, cutters, sewers, finishers and even those who add button holes and press the garment by putting them into polybags or hanging them on hangers. Many overseas and domestic factories have vertical integrated systems or factories to do these things within a single facility. The opportunity here is to build one, work in one, or specialize in any particular category.
Production Managers work closely with retailers and suppliers to oversee the textile and clothing manufacturing process and provide quality assurance.
Fashion Merchandising and Retail
Amidst diverse shopping options available to consumers today and stiff price competition amongst retailers, merchandising has become a cornerstone of the industry. The intent of the retail and sales sector is to develop innovative strategies to build brand engagement and ensure that products reach consumers efficiently.
Fashion Merchandisers work closely with the design team to analyze consumer demands, increase brand growth by analyzing numbers, sales and production costs, key categorizations and price points. Their abilities lie in understanding what is commercially viable based on the past sales, fashion trends and consumer purchase trends. They negotiate prices and decide how much money to spend acquiring products and their quantities, match clothing items to the correct retail outlets and also what fashion items are displayed on the store’s website and their duration. Apart from clothing they also work with accessories, cosmetics, jewellery, and shoes.
Luxury Merchandisers promote aspirational value by creating an ambience of glamour, power and wealth for their products and brands.
Visual Merchandising focusses on the internal and external layout of a retail space, including displays, decorations and signs so as to maximise sales.
Buyers have an in-depth understanding of the customers, their needs and wants and buying patterns. They play a significant role in a brand’s growth, performance and expansion. They travel to production facilities, trade fairs and fashion shows to identify fashion and luxury products.
Retail buyers purchase retail goods for merchandisers to sell by tracking emerging fashion trends, maintain relationship with suppliers and negotiate purchasing contracts. When employed by large department stores or organizations, they may sub-specialize into men’s or women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. In smaller retail outlets, they procure items across multiple departments.
Personal Shoppers work exclusively with clients enhancing their shopping experience, guiding them to products and services that are particularly suited to their needs and desires.
Fashion Consultants armed with extensive knowledge about the fashion and retail industry enhance their client’s public image through their wardrobe and evaluating body type, personality, and career goals.
Other opportunities exist as sales representatives, showrooms, trade show reproductions, online shop management, graphic and web design.
Fashion Business Management
Managing the business of fashion calls for a completely different mindset and approach. The back office functions here are vital to keeping the industry afloat.
Creative or Fashion Director role expands from providing the vision of the lifestyle the label will be selling, shaping the marketing and advertising strategy, the retail environments, and format of the catwalk presentations. They work with buyers to assure that they’re representative of the current trends.
Fashion Manager is entrusted with traditional management duties and coordination of daily operations, while reaching sales goals and revenue targets.
Fashion Marketing is tasked with identifying the brand’s target audience, tracking sales data to ascertain their preferences and using appropriate mechanisms, both offline (PR, runway shows, ad agencies) and online (social media) to reach them thereby maximising on sales and profitability. Marketing operates at both the wholesale and retail levels using promotional activities to establish brand recognition and reputation.
Colour and Trend Forecasters travel widely looking at all sorts of cultural influences, sub-cultures, street fashion, retail, other areas like food, cars, music etc. as these things tend to influence the way people dress. They collect all this data and present it so as to understand how fashion will develop in the future.
Fashion shows allow designer’s to showcase their craftsmanship and ideas, brands to build their own identity and is the main source of selling. Fashion Producers are administratively responsible for every aspect of a show including coordinating with models, staff, lights, sound, seating and recording of the show.
Fashion Modeling refers to displaying trends in costume, beauty, and grooming using the human form. Models are required for fashion shows and advertising for offline and online avenues. Other associated options include becoming a Make-up Artist, Hairstylist and Tattoo Artist.
Fashion Installation Artists use their creativity to add novelty to runway and catwalk shows to differentiate between brands and provide aesthetic appeal.
Fashion Media and Communication
All kinds of media are essential for the marketing of fashion today.
Fashion Journalism offers various opportunities including being a fashion writer, editor, and critic and fashion blogger. Apart from magazines, newspapers, PR firms, trade publications and websites, the newer spaces include blogs, vlogs, and podcasts.
Fashion Editors are associated to either a particular publication or freelance and contribute to multiple different magazines, newspapers or websites. Based on the ethos of the publication, they provide the vision, and direct tone and viewpoint of the magazine.
Fashion Publicists work alongside fashion editors to publicize and create brand awareness and recognition. Using market research and trend analysis they develop retention strategies and networking initiatives to promote the brand.
Fashion Photography is a lucrative career option today. The intention is to capture the vision of the brand, convey the fashionable lifestyle and initiate the willingness amongst consumers to buy. Fashion Videographers documents and create films that help to soft sell a brand, connect strongly with niche clientele. Both of these areas help to reflect on and advance the changing direction of fashion.
Fashion Stylists use their creativity and vision to create the perfect look according to the latest trends by selecting the clothing and accessories, identifing props for published editorial features, print or digital advertising campaigns, music videos, concert performances, and public appearances by celebrities, models, and important public figures.
Social Media Managers working within the fashion and luxury industry create brand awareness, drive traffic, and promote targeted engagement with online communities. They develop the brand’s voice and create partnerships across the different marketing platforms.
Social Media Influencers is a new-age career opportunity that has changed the way the fashion industry advertises today. Instagram Influencers have revolutionized fashion by personalizing it and making it easily accessible to everyone. Designers and brands that dress them in their clothing and accessories to develop relatable and aspirational posts hire them. They can expand their reach by promoting outfit changes, fashion shows, attending dinners and after parties, collaborating on design and fashion photo-ops. The successful influencers also have their personal camera crews to photograph them as they move around daily. It allows for their subscribers to live vicariously through their Insta-stories.
YouTube Influencers fulfill the need for authenticity and unique personal style to engage with young consumers, who spend a lot of time watching videos. ‘YouTube is the second most influential digital platform in India and videos are a key way for brands to reach them across categories,’ said Prashant Puri, co-founder and chief executive of digital marketing agency AdLift.
Fashion Podcasters broadcast captivating ideas and real-life conversations via videos and audio files that are accessible at any time. Podcasts are becoming an extremely powerful to build brands today.
Fashion Bloggers have their unique way of presenting and documenting fashion based on their point of view either visually or in written format. It began as a disruptive fashion innovation, free from advertising funded journalism, an unfiltered and highly personal journalism. Today it’s an important means to disseminate fashion related information and brands use them regularly since they’ve become respected voices in the industry and influence how people experience changes in fashion.
Fashion Curators collect and present clothing and accessories to represent and experience a specific lifestyle that customers would most likely identify themselves with. It’s a marketing practice whereby brands communicate with consumers in an exciting way to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Fashion Lawyers advise on legal issues ranging from licensing, litigating trademark, copyright, merchandising, distribution, and franchising agreements to intellectual property, brand development and protection, employment, and labor relation issues.
Fashion Educators teach and guide students in different areas of the industry and it’s functioning. They also mentor them to develop their skillset and provide internship opportunities.
The fashion ecosystem encompasses the larger society and culture revolving around the business of fashion, the art and craft of fashion, the language and imagery used, production and consumption. The above exhaustive list of career options clearly indicate the flexibility one has to forge their own path by focusing on any one area based on their interest and liking.