Cracking Couture: How to Break Into the Fashion Industry
So what if you didn’t go to FIDM or FIT? These days it doesn’t matter if you even went to college. Just like any highly competitive, creativity-driven career path, the fashion industry is not about what you know, but who you know — and even more importantly, who knows you.
With the emergence of technology at the forefront of the fashion game, anyone who wants to break into the industry can instantly communicate with fashion’s heavy hitters with a simple tweet or direct message. Even though opportunities are everywhere, you have to have a game plan to get noticed. Here’s your guide for breaking into the fashion industry with no experience, no friends and no fear:
Social Is as Social Does
Social media has changed every industry in the world. Fashion is not just another example, but the epitome of how powerful social media is. Blogs, message boards and Pinterest pins influence how billions of dollars are spent each year, according to Social Media Link. Not to mention that many industry heavy hitters and superstars are well known for replying personally to tweets from their fans.
Don’t Get Lost in the Shuffle
It’s all too easy to spin your wheels posting away to a dozen different social media sites and getting nowhere. So which ones work? How can you leverage your time, content and energy to get noticed in one of the most competitive industries in the world? Two words: Get specific.
First, select the industry leaders who are most valuable to you. These are not necessarily the biggest names in the industry, but rather are the influencers that speak to you, your passion and your ethos. They are the people that, in an ideal world, would be your colleagues and friends. Choose five to 10 of these incredible people and get to work!
Now is the time to be an incredible Internet sleuth. Figure out everything there is to know about your industry leaders. Find which social media outlets they have, and follow them. Then, look for the social media outlet they use the most. For example, if all their tweets are automatic reposts from Instagram, then you know the best place to interact with them is not on Twitter, it’s on Insta. Like, comment and DM, but don’t go overboard. This method of building a business relationship is much like a romantic one: Show them that you’re interested but not desperate. Let your interactions evolve over time, and don’t try to force it.
Understand Your Stepping Stones
The best skill you can have going into this job market is experience. Want to be a big name designer? Start your own small business. Sell your designs on Etsy. Or find a part-time gig that teaches you new skills — even if it’s something simple like developing your salesmanship with Amway or seeing what sells by working a retail job in a boutique. Learning to work with or manage other people, keeping your cash flow up and motivating yourself to work at it every day gives you invaluable skills and sets you up to be a networking guru.
While this position doesn’t have to be something you love or will do forever, think of it as a stepping stone. We all have to pay our dues. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old. In an industry that revolves around narcissism and appearances, humility and hard work will get you everywhere. Remember: Vera Wang didn’t start her brand until she was 40 years old!