As a naive eighteen year old girl and a student at the LSE, I have found that society tends to paint a very narrow picture of success. All my life, starting from parental influences, to highschool events, and now university, I have come to realize that everyone is chasing the same thing. Money. And this comes as no surprise, as we all need it, which is why I have since been following the same, sometimes uninspiring path to get to that comfortable place we all long for so much, whatever that might be. But, through these rather unforgiving times with a novel virus living amongst us, I have had no other choice but to prioritize self-reflection. I have found myself having an almost existential debate with my thoughts on a daily basis, asking myself things like, “What does my degree even mean? Does anything I do actually matter? Why have I not found my niche?” and the list goes on. I began to fall down this rabbit hole of confusion where I started to question my worth, came to terms with how I am not particularly good at anything, and that I am simply following the mundane steps of life that seem to work for everyone else, so why not me?
If you’ve stumbled upon this article, it is highly likely that you are interested in some realm of the fashion world. I too, am like you. With there being such a grand fixation on entertaining a future that lies in finance, or the tech world, it is very easy to believe that creative networks are a dead end, and that taking the road less taken with your career becomes less of an indie and hip decision, but one of wasted potential. I won’t be the one to reassure you about the plans you have with your future, but I do want to generate a platform for careers in the fashion industry that can open your mind to the endless opportunity that exists beyond the confined spaces of the more “technical” paths. Now more than ever, especially through the incessant lockdowns and quarantines, it is impossible to deny the importance of the arts, whether that’d be film, fashion and everything in between. It is what has brought the majority of the world out of touch with a rather grim reality. Who knows? Maybe making the decision to contribute to those industries, and choosing to pursue the passion that you deem pathetic because society tells you to, will one day be your true calling.
Entry Level Positions:
Although I believe it is important to never say never, I do, unfortunately, feel that it is quite impossible to graduate with some form of education and immediately land the position of editor in chief at Vogue. That being said, there are many entry level positions that are the foundation for more grandiose titles in the fashion industry. As many films romanticize, the most entry of entry level positions is being an assistant. As the fashion industry has many faces to it, these positions include being a fashion assistant, publicity assistant, junior designer, social media coordinator and so on. Assistants are definitely the “women/men behind the curtain” for much of what goes on in the fashion industry. They do tend to do the work that no one else wants to do, however, it helps you observe the different aspects of the industry as a person on the inside, instead of just an outsider looking in. As a fashion assistant to a designer, potential duties include assisting major fashion shoots/campaigns, sourcing various looks for different brands or PR agencies, working backstage during shows, and maybe even running a coffee order or two. It may not have the glitz and glamour you’re looking for as you are hired to essentially be at one’s beck and call on a 24 hour basis, therefore being reliable and punctual is the main task. Although the pay may not be the most idyllic, everyone has to start somewhere.
Marketing and Social Media:
Diving a little deeper, past the first bench mark in the fashion industry, here are some positions that you can make quite the decent living out of depending on the fashion house you’re working for and their level of consciousness about the need for online presence. Strong marketing is what makes a brand timeless, it is how to keep the public engaged and talking about your brand to gain an iconic brand status. In the techno-crazy world that we live in, people are being hired to manage a brand’s social media presence, and reaching out to influencers to promote the brand in order to develop greater returns. Marketing can be done through an agency or in-house, however, if you’re passionate about graphic design or are interested in creative direction of any kind, marketing for a brand is a very eye-opening position. You may begin as a junior graphic designer for a brand, however, in marketing, your work will speak for itself, therefore, depending on the passion you exude, climbing the corporate ladder is very possible. This will require a lot of initiative and thick skin regarding your work as it will be critiqued by the masses, however, if your work is received well by the public, and there are numbers and sales to back it up, you may begin to make a name for yourself.
Personally, if I could have any career in the world that I could still make a comfortable living off of, I would choose to be a stylist. If we’re being frank, who doesn’t want their job to be playing dress up all day long? I personally admire Hailey Baldwin’s stylist, Maeve Reilly. She has several celebrity clients, with Baldwin being her most recognized. I’ll be the first to admit, I am a shopaholic. Although I do not have the funds, many of my tabs consist of online stores with items sitting in my shopping cart, never to be purchased, just to be admired. I assume many of you can relate to this (at least I’m hoping). I also often find myself shopping and looking through pieces and saying, “OMG! This would look amazing on Bella Hadid!” or even seeing mens pieces and saying, “OMG! If guys at my school wore this top with some baggy jeans, they would just look so much better. Because sometimes an LSE hoodie several times a week is so boring!”. With styling, there is no regular path to get there. Much of it lies on connections you have in the industry, and the networking you do that can have you recognized and hired by A-list clients. For example, Reilly, being an FIT graduate, began her career in TV production. She was in the industry for 8 years or so and then landed a gig as a stylist for background dancers in music videos. With one foot already in the door as she was involved in media, her work and name eventually caught the attention of the insanely talented Janelle Monae, who she styled for the BET awards. This is what launched her career as a stylist. Therefore, there is no one one way of doing things, however, the connections you make in the industry play a big role.
From one confused fashion addict to another, there are a plethora of careers available in the industry that surpass everything showcased above. But from one anxious student to another, it is important to remember that knowing what you want to do and having it all figured out is bullshit! I mean, if you do, glory and godspeed to you, but especially if you’re an indecisive, wannabe creative, as I like to think we all are, that is simply an unrealistic reality. If you want to work in the supply chain fashion industry, something a little more business oriented, those options are available to you as well. What I’ve learned from many successful creatives in the industry is to never settle, and to never stop exploring what’s out there to truly find where your star power shines the brightest. As a little affirmation, there is no need to rush your career search process. As a first year university student with no job experience, I may not be the most trustworthy source, but I do know that we are not built to be ticking time bombs.