For men and women, a career in fashion can be one of the most rewarding, exciting, and creatively challenging paths anyone could ever embark upon. Those who have climbed to the top of the field are rewarded with a jet-set lifestyle on the Paris-New York-London-Milan circuit, designing clothes for some of the most fabulous people on Earth and receiving commissions from the most respected names in fashion.
Of course, getting to those dizzy heights is no easy feat. Fashion design is, by all accounts, a mercilessly competitive and cutthroat industry. However, it is also one where talent is encouraged to rise to the top, and where a person’s background and circumstances matter less than a person’s ability to work hard and be fearless. If you’re hoping to embark upon a successful career as a fashion designer, here are the four essential tips for getting there.
- Be Bold and Knock On Doors
This is the first rule of fashion, one that plucky go-getters that climbed to the top like Alexander McQueen and Betsey Johnson knew all about. Talent is important, but it won’t get you anywhere if no-one knows about it. The fashion world is an incredibly tight-knit, face-to-face one, meaning that you will need to put yourself out there and make sure people are hearing your name. Get yourself into those local fashion shows and design expos. Any event which is likely to attract members of the fashion industry, make sure you have an invite and start hustling.
- Constantly Soak Up the World of Design
One of the keys to becoming a successful designer is being able to live, eat, and breathe the world of fashion. That means incorporating fashion design into your daily routine in creative ways. This could be as simple as sketching out some creations during your morning commute, instead of scrolling through Twitter. If you play video games in your downtime, switch out Fortnite for games that allow you to engage with your craft. There are countless examples of this; the Fashion Slot , a free-to-play game that allows players to spin the slot reels to create original and eye-catching designs. Simple steps such as these will keep your design senses and your passions sharp.
- Don’t Be a Snob
While many people are drawn to the idea of living it up during Paris Fashion Week, it is important to check your snobbery at the door if you want to get ahead in this business. Some of the most exciting design opportunities will be happening beyond the orbit of the major fashion capitals, in design studios that most people have never heard of. Your early years in the business are a crucial time to experiment and connect with industry players who think outside the box, and many of those players are not living in Tribeca or Shoreditch. Looking beyond the big names and the glamorous places will take you to places where there are less competition and more opportunities to truly get your foot in the door of this industry, so take your blinders off.
- Crunch Those Numbers
Far too many budding designers make the fatal mistake of forgetting about the business side of fashion. As a successful designer, an ability to budget effectively and survive on razor-thin margins is absolutely crucial. Even saving a few cents per square inch of fabric can be the difference between surviving the season and closing the doors of your atelier forever. The fashion industry is fuelled by creativity and talent, but it would not survive without business acumen, solid accounting, complex supply chains, and brutal negotiation. Before you begin pitching your work to others, do everything you can to ensure you have an airtight and fully costed business plan in place. Make sure you will be able to absorb the short-term costs of relocating, or that you have the capacity to take on a massive order for a prestigious client.
If you follow these essential tips, you will be able to make it as a successful fashion designer. It’s not an easy journey, but few people would disagree that the view from the top is worth it.