Getting a job in fashion changes across the world. But in the UK according to Fashion United, more than half a million people work in fashion-related industries.
That’s a lot of competition in an attractive sector — so how do you stand out? Here, we’ll explore the avenues you can take to forge an amazing fashion-focused career in the UK, from useful university courses to invaluable work experience!
The fashion industry
Fashion is global, but the UK is one of its most dominant forces. In 2016, the UK exported $9.2 billion worth of clothing, which shows how interconnected British fashion is with the rest of the world. But how does the UK compare to other countries?
The UK labour force displays the greatest percentage of workers in fashion, with approximately 1.68%, according to Fashion United research — which also found that the rate in the US was a lower 1.12% and only 0.81% in Germany!
But is it truly a lucrative sector in the UK? The domestic market value (DMV) of the fashion industry in this country stands at £94.1 billion. Although this is dwarfed by the US and its DMV of $385.7 billion, it’s still a huge figure and suggests that from both a consumer and employee perspective, the sector is certainly worth considering when it comes to embarking on a fulfilling, rewarding and secure career.
So, how does the UK fashion industry like to recruit its employees? While internships are very popular in the US due to it being relatively simple for companies to hire interns, the UK is quite similar to France in the sense that fashion degrees offered by fashion schools consistently rank highly in popularity and for the student experience and course quality they provide.
There’s also scope in the UK to participate in international higher-education course or even gain employment in fashion companies around the world. In Japan, the clothing industry turns over around $96 billion USD a year, however, the country’s ageing population is forcing the fashion sector to recruit employees from other nations. Could this be a slowly opening door for UK students and those looking for a career in fashion?
Now, it’s time to explore how can you get your foot in the door in the UK…
Getting a job in UK fashion
We don’t need to tell you again how successful the UK fashion scene is — how do you get in on the action? Do you yearn to design practical but chic Christmas going out dress? Or be more involved in the textiles used to create such products? You have the chance in the UK, if you consider your options. The UK is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to fashion schools and recent rankings prove that studying here is a great way to get onto the career ladder.
Looking at the Global Fashion School Rankings by Business of Fashion, four of the top ten undergraduate fashion schools and three of the top ten graduate fashion schools are located in the UK. Clearly, this is a great place to learn fashion. Not only that, but the UK claimed the top spot in both lists, with Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design coming first in both the undergraduate and graduate categories. Also making the top five were London College of Fashion as an undergraduate school and Royal College of Art as a graduate establishment.
Firstly, you might consider enrolling on a university course or at a fashion school in the field of study you’d like to develop in. Due to the time you’ll receive to learn and hone your skills, this is a great option. Of course, this is not the only way into the industry in the UK. Institutions such as the Fashion Retail Academy and Fashion Enter offer a range of apprenticeship courses — like merchandising and garment technology — to thousands of students every year, while the UK government also promotes apprenticeship opportunities in this sector, if you’re aged 16 years or over.
What about a hands-on internship to get you immersed in the industry? There are an estimated 70,000 internships on offer every year in the UK and gaining hands-on, practical experience can help you develop and learn at a quicker rate than taking a more academic, school-structured path. Although, it should be noted that unpaid internships in the fashion industry are still common.
And if you hit a dead end, are unsure, or are waiting to start on your course, how about showing initiative with work experience? Researching fashion companies and requesting experience is tough, but key to creating a career in fashion. Even if you work in a clothing store, this is experience — plus, you can ask to try visual merchandising to develop your sills on the job.
Essentially, it’s all about getting ahead of other people who also crave the job you do. According to Alexandra Alberta Yeo of jewellery brand, Alexandra Alberta: “Fashion jobs include everything from photography and styling, to merchandising, buying and designing. Home in one area and then go from there.”
Once you’ve cracked the industry, you can start moving across different departments until you land your dream job!