This is a follow up on yesterday’s post about students accumulating scarily high amounts of debt to study fashion. So many people think they want to work in fashion, but it isn’t for everyone. Here are a few things to consider if you think you want to be the next star designer, stylist, or magazine editor.
1. Prospects. Ok, let’s think about job prospects here, as fashion is not an art, it is an industry. Even if you want to start your own company, you will have to work to get experience. So where can you get a job? Is there a fashion indsutry in your city? Are you willing to move abroad? Can you legally work abroad? What jobs are out there? Do you stand a chance to get them? What does the job entail? Is this something you want to do every day?
2. Education. Ok, you’ve decided there’s a job out there for you, so you need to learn the skills to get employed. What schools do you want to go to? What do they require for entry? Will you be in debt for 50 years after you get your degree? Does the school have a good reputation? Never trust the school or their sales people, do the research on your own. What will you learn on the course? Is it what you want to do? (I’ll write more about choosing a fashion design school soon.)
3. Are you connected? The fashion industry is about who you know, so if you don’t know anyone, how will you find them? Will you meet the right poeple through school? Your rock star father? An internship? Working in a bar where all the fashion people hang out? You’ll need to meet the right people, so think about how you are going to do this.
4. Do you have a passion for it? Being passionate about fashion is not about reading Vogue and owning a Gucci bag. It’s not about watching every single episode of Rachel Zoe’s stupid show, or being able to name nearly all the models who walked the last Prada show. Its not about starving yourself to fit into a dress, or forgoing food to buy shoes. Having a passion means suffering abuse from your psychotic boss during fifteen hour workdays and always having to cancel on your date. It means sleeping on your friend’s sofas for two years because you spend your money on fabric instead of rent while you try and make a name for yourself as a designer. It means working for free for three years before finally landing a job that pays marginally more than minimum wage, but you are expected to dress like a million bucks. How much are you willing to suffer for fashion?
5. What if you don’t make it big? Ok, so you’ve got your heart set on being the next Marc Jacobs, and you went to the right school, met the right poeple, and are in a really good job which will help propel you to the next step. But chances are, you won’t be the next Marc Jacobs. Not many people will. You may be a great designer, working quietly for a big brand and making a good salary but never seeing your name in lights. You may end up being a senior account manager at a great PR firm, but never becoming Kelly Cutrone. You may end up being the head pattern cutter at a french fashion house, but no one outside of the company knows who you are. Can you deal with this? There is only a bit of room at the top, and I’d suggest you be prepared to make it halfway up the ladder. You’ll need some serious luck and talent to get higher than that.