How to Break Into Fashion Industry – Fashion Career Tips and Advice – HarpersBAZAAR.com
Fishing for Answers is a weekly advice column on BAZAAR.com. From fashion conundrums (what in the world does one wear to a ‘business casual’ event?) to relationship struggles (how do I get one of those?), to getting ahead in your career and beyond, I’ll tackle your most burning questions with the truthful (and loving) sarcasm you won’t get from your therapist or mom.
Up this week: landing your first fashion job, finding your purpose, and explaining gaps in your resume.
“I’ve wanted to work in fashion ever since I saw The Devil Wears Prada, but how do I get my foot in the door if I have no connections?” —Hire Me, Miranda
First of all, that’s the thing that made you want to work in fashion? Did we see the same movie? I mean the Chanel boots were good but phew, I think you may have missed some of the plot lines and mental breakdowns in there. But okay, one girl’s toxic work environment is another’s treasure, I suppose. Let’s continue…
Breaking into the fashion industry can seem daunting, especially since it’s still a world where nepotism largely rules (unfortunately). But it’s still possible to succeed even if your parents don’t own a major fashion house or small country (I’m proof of this).
The trick is to make your own connections. Make a list of the people and companies you admire within the industry. Do diligent research, make sure your resume is up to date, and start reaching out to a few key people for informational interviews (not to ask for jobs, just to learn more about their career!). Reach out via email or LinkedIn (or a social media platform if appropriate), tell them you admire their work, and politely ask for 15 minutes of their time over a quick coffee to discuss their own career path and how they got to where they are. Most people are happy to help (any excuse to talk about themselves is always good). You never know what you’ll learn or what opportunities these quick coffees can lead to, the fashion industry is a very small place!
It takes a lot of time, patience, and applying to many, many jobs, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. In the meantime, read the below books by fashion veterans who’ve done it themselves.
The Must-Read Books for Breaking Into Fashion
The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be
Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry
“What’s the best way to explain gaps in a resume or multiple short term jobs?” —Michael
That entirely depends. Were you off volunteering to save the world, taking time to raise your children, or exploring other career trajectories? Or were you laying on your parent’s couch suffocating underneath a pile of Doritos packets while scrolling Instagram? If the answer is the latter, LIE!!
But in most cases, it’s best to just be honest in your cover letter and interviews. Without drawing too much attention to any gaps in your previous experience, tell the truth if asked instead of concocting some wild, intricate story. Before any interviews, be prepared with how you’re going to explain any gaps or short-term jobs so you don’t appear flustered when asked. Be confident in what your journey (short-term jobs or not) has taught you—and how it has prepared you for whatever job you’re applying for. It’s best to be well-versed in the job description, as well, so you can tailor your previous work experiences or resume gaps as learning opportunities for the job ahead.
“I’m stuck in a career rut. How do you find your *true* purpose and what type of job you’re meant to do?” —Ness
I really wish there was some magical formula I could give you that would reveal the answer, but sadly I think the process and journey is different for everyone. Some people know their purpose the minute they start talking; others probably never really take the time to discover it (sorry, this isn’t a motivational TedTalk, I’m just telling you the facts).
The most important thing for you to do is connect with yourself: What makes you feel fulfilled and happy? Don’t think about the job that’s going to make you the most money, clout, or seem most impressive at your high school reunion. What actually brings you joy and fulfillment? It might be helping people, or it might be basking in solitude while avoiding the entire human race. But either way, the next step is to find a job that supports this purpose and joy in some capacity. This is something that will likely take some time (and trial and error) to find the real answer to.
How do you actually connect with yourself in the Year of Our Lord 2019? It’s not with sheet masks or CBD bath salts, but with actually taking real time for yourself. Keep a journal, write daily to-do lists and weekly goals to stay focused. No matter what your current job is, don’t let it fully consume your entire life. If your job title is the only thing that defines you, you’re probably not going to feel like you have a real, balanced purpose in life. Get some hobbies, connections, and joy outside of your workplace, too. Go towards whatever makes you feel happiest and inspired, the rest will eventually fall into place in a way that aligns with all areas of your life. While trying to find your own purpose, I highly recommend reading the You Are a Badass book series (it’s not as corny as it sounds, I swear) to better learn the art of connecting with yourself.
Need some advice? Submit all your questions to [email protected] or DM me on Instagram @LaurenAlexisNYC. Read more Fishing for Answers here.
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