Fearing the Fashion Industry

The fashion industry has never been more exciting and more difficult to access.

Having watched documentaries such as 'The September Issue' or 'The First Monday in May', the fast-paced, glamorous world of publishing and editorial entices us all. And yet, entering this business still seems to be a classic case of who you know. Anna Wintour, the fashion mogul herself, was the daughter of Charles Wintour, the editor of the Evening Standard. Although she has had a huge influence on the structure of Vogue and the fashion world, it hardly seems like the story of an underdog. For those who have not lived and breathed fashion their entire life, the passion to enter the industry is easily crushed.

With careers and potential internships flooding our inboxes, the pressure to find a foot in the door come fast and furious. Unfortunately, so many opportunities that come through via university are rarely outside sectors like science and banking, let alone relating to fashion. In my fleeting relationship with fashion writing, the idea of fashion editorials, production and creativity is both enticing and daunting.

For those who have not lived and breathed fashion their entire life, the passion to enter the industry is easily crushed.

When you research the career paths of the most successful players in the fashion world, it seems to come down to either sheer talent or moving sideways. Grace Coddington originally started as a model, having won the modelling competition at Vogue in 1959, and later became creative director at the magazine. Clare Waight Keller was the artistic director of Chloe and in 2017 moved to become artistic director of Givenchy. It makes us question whether the same jobs are just being passed around the same people? Of course, these are the top people in the game, and the turnover is fast.

The next anxiety we face is whether we should have done a degree in fashion production or design; Waight Keller herself completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree in fashion. But after university, it’s hard to commit to a much narrower field, with fees for Masters courses being extortionate. Nonetheless, at university, creative opportunities are numerous, with multiple student publications, just like PHASER, open to student talent and personal motivation. It would not go amiss to write and explore your passions in these three years.

The first step to overcome these anxieties is to start looking. Whether that’s contacting companies directly, contacting the company that owns another company, or following what makes sense. There’s more than just Condé Nast and bigger names out there. Try searching through your favourite brand’s careers’ section and see what their policy is on interns or work, try contacting a regular paper and work for their style section. Even just working as a receptionist, or administrator in the industry you want can boost your CV and skills. Keeping up some kind of interaction with fashion as a hobby is going to help your chances of being employed.

At the end of the day, it is a case of following what you love. When you decide you want to enter fashion, you sign up for a life of pro-activeness and self-motivation. It’s tough breaking the expectations of an Oxford degree and going out to a notoriously competitive industry. The information is out there, as well as the opportunities, but it is a matter of seizing the day and working hard.


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