Welcome to The Fashion Careers Clinic Blog!

Our blog aims to answer your questions on searching for a role in fashion/textiles/accessory design, marketing, promotion and PR. The Fashion Careers Clinic is a specialist careers advice service based in London. For more information on what we can do to assist you in your fashion job search, please visit our main site: www.fashioncareersclinic.com

If there is a subject you would like us to cover on this blog which is related to fashion job searching, please email: steph@fashioncareersclinic.com with your query, and we'll do our best to answer it here.

Friday, 27 February 2009


So, the big question is - are companies still recruiting for fashion designers right now?

The answer is yes....however there are quite a few roles out there that have been open for a while (we're talking since October last year!) - and have had lots of exposure.
3 reasons why some roles have been around for what seems like forever:
- The role is for a niche area of design, eg lingerie, outdoor footwear, or denim design (therefore there aren't so many good designers around who are trained in these areas);
- The role is based outside London or a major city, which is not so attractive to the majority of candidates.
- The client is a bit picky (and let's face it, who isn't right now? If a client has a role to fill, they HAVE to get it right in terms of who they take on - no-one wants to waste precious time and more importantly for some, money, in this climate). Therefore the client might have seen the world and his wife, and no-one is hitting the mark!

If you have been job searching for a while, and you aren't getting anywhere fast, it might be time to revisit some of those roles you first discounted- the ones that are still being advertised on every job board and every agency site. 
As long as you're qualified and have some experience within fashion design, you can do the following:

- Consider relocation. If up until now you have only considered roles near to you, now is the time to be flexible. It's much better to be in a job that's not 100% right, rather than be without a job at all (as a short term option to get through the downturn); The most successful candidates are those who will be flexible. Don't just think that it's people who have no ties who can do this - if you need, you can find a way. I heard of a designer who was made redundant in the same week as her husband (also in the fashion industry) and it was clear they needed to get something fast. It turned out that a role came up in the town her parents live in, so she went for an interview, got offered a 6 month contract, and now lives at her parents house and works there during the week, and commutes back home to see her husband and children at the weekend.  It's not an ideal situation, but she's earning money, and now has a great brand on her CV from this 6 month contract.

- Make yourself a niche market designer! Ok, so it might take a while to become fully trained in a new sector, however you can improve your chances by taking a short course in a subject that would complement your existing skills base. For instance, you might be a print and graphics designer who uses Photoshop & Illustrator, but by training on a relatively new package called Kaledo, you will set yourself apart from the rest of the designers in your sector.
Or you might have experience designing sleepwear, loungewear and camisoles - why not do a short course in technical lingerie design, so you have the added benefit of being able to attempt more structured pieces?
Short courses may not be for everyone due to time and money, but it's something to consider - in an overcrowded market, you have to find something different about what you can offer.

- Redo your portfolio!
As mentioned above, most employers are being very choosy about who they even interview, never mind who they actually take on in the end. Improve your chances of getting an interview by keeping your portfolio up to date and creating some great new projects for it (no matter what level of experience you are - this goes for senior designers as well as juniors).  When an employer receives an application for a design role, the most common reason you are likely to get turned down is because the images you send aren't amazing.  The same goes for applications to recruitment agencies - send them s0-so images, and they may not take you on, even if you have solid experience.  Companies and agencies only want the best of the best.
Now is not the time to have an average portfolio.

If you feel your drawing skills are lacking, or your portfolio presentation isn't the best - practice, practice, practice! It's a bit like going back to uni, and trying to perfect an important project, and it does take determination and a lot of input. But it's worth it in the end.
Lock yourself away over the weekend and really focus on your work - try to create at least 4 pages of work you would be confident to send out, then begin to send out new applications as soon as you can.  

A designer I worked with a while ago spent ages trying to find a job with high street retailers - she was adamant that she didn't want to stay at supplier level. However she was the first to admit that her portfolio wasn't up to scratch, and she kept being rejected for roles she went for.  The great thing about her was that she didn't get down about it, she simply accepted that she had to do more on her portfolio to get where she wanted to be, and she spent most evenings trying to make it better.  A role came up for a major high street company, and she REALLY wanted it, therefore she did a special project for them when she actually applied (instead of just sending images from her old work) - this ensured that everything she emailed over was relevant for their consumer, on trend, and presented immaculately. Not surprisingly, she landed an interview, then another, then a third. It was an intense process, and she ended up doing 2 more special projects for them - but she got the job! I really don't think it would have happened if she hadn't made that extra effort from the outset to impress the client from the very first point of contact.

Morale of the story - go that extra mile, put in more effort, make your application different to the hundred of others an employer will receive.  

It might just make the difference between a role being around for another 6 months, or your application being the one they go, and the role gets filled!


  1. Just found your blog - it's great. I'm a new lecturer to fashion and will be sending link to my students. And good to keep up to date and have also sent links to friends in industry here in ireland. Have checked out some of the websites you have suggested too and found them very helpful.will definitely be a regular visitor.

  2. Thanks for your comments Tricia. Just let me know if there are any particular subjects your students would like some advice on. How are they are all doing with their final projects?

  3. One area i am interested in is feedback on the skills that are necessary for fashion graduates or the lack of skills they possess, from people in the industry! We're only in second year of a newly established fashion course so no graduates until next year. Although we are holding a fashion show this year showcasing 1st and 2nd year work - but next year will be the big one for them. I will get some feedback from students too on areas that they want advice on and let you know - thank you for that.

  4. Hi there,
    One particular area the majority of students are ill prepared in is lack of computer skills, in terms of Photoshop, etc. In fact, I will post a thread on this topic now!


GFW 2010

GFW 2010
River Island Poster

Blog Archive