No matter where you’re studying fashion design, you’ll probably find the importance is heavily put on becoming a designer after your graduate. This is brilliant for those who can’t imagine doing anything else, who love fabrics, sewing and are complete innovators. But maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’re sitting in fashion school thinking, I’m not good enough to be a designer, I can’t visualise in 3D and I think I’ve made a terrible mistake. If that’s you, don’t despair! Once upon a time, I was that girl. The thought of sewing made my toes curl, I broke more needles than I could count and I had little interest in “feeling” fabrics much to my tutor’s dismay. But guess what? Just because you studied fashion design, doesn’t mean that’s the only job you can do! Yes, it’s true! There are many jobs out there that can actually be much more desirable than being a fashion designer. Here are six non obvious fashion jobs I wish I’d known about when I was studying fashion so you don’t have to tear your hair out over the fact that you hate sewing!
Fashion Isn't Always Glamorous
First of all, fashion design is seen as this super glamourous job and sometimes it can be. But more often than not, fashion design in the real world (that is, outside of school) can be very average depending on the brand or client you work for. Your creations in school are often inspired by something you love and you have as much freedom as your skillset, resources and imagination allows. By the time you start working in industry, you’ll find that you have to stick to the brief rigidly, design garments you hate because that’s what the client wants or even find it difficult to design a new polo shirt that has to be the same classic silhouette as the previous twenty you’ve done. Fashion design isn’t all doom and gloom of course, it can be a very creative and rewarding job but what I’m here to tell you is that it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t become one. I won’t be mentioning the obvious fashion jobs such as a fashion buyer or a fashion marketer, you already know about those. Let’s delve into the lesser known fashion jobs that only people in the industry know exist. Unlike fashion design jobs, these are actually in lower demand meaning there’s less competition out there and can even pay up to double the amount of a design job!
Tech Pack Specialist
First on the list has got to be a tech pack specialist. It’s first on the list because it’s actually what I ended up building my freelance business on! A tech pack is basically a blue print for every fashion or apparel garment. It tells the factory, seamstress and pattern maker how to construct the garment and is actually a very technical job. You don’t have to be a whizz kid at math but you do have to have some basic number skills for this job. You won’t find haute couture ateliers using tech packs but pretty much every other fashion brand does. The best way to learn how to create tech packs is to learn on the job through an internship. You’ll learn how to create production sketches, tech specs, learn how different fabrics work on real bodies (not models!) and even about the production process and working with factories. If you’re more of a 2D person and have brilliant computer skills, this is a great job prospect to explore!
Next on the list is a fashion writer because my business also involves being a fashion writer! This is probably the most diverse fashion job on our list but by no means less important or dare I say it, cool. There are many different types of fashion writers from magazine article writers, columnists, product description writers, bloggers and historians and most writers will work between a few of these categories. Of course, you’ll have to actually enjoy and be good at expressing yourself through the written word but this job is ideal for someone who loves fashion but hates the practical, creative side of stitching and working with fabrics.
CAD stands for Computer Aided Design and is more often being taught in schools due to the demand for digital designs rather than hand drawn illustrations. As a CAD designer you’ll be responsible for drawing up the brand’s collection in an industry approved program such as Adobe Illustrator. Sometimes you’ll have the garment in front of you, other times you’ll just have inspiration images to work from. There is some overlap when it comes to a CAD designer and a tech pack specialist as CAD designs are included in a tech pack. You’ll have to create anything to do with graphics from zip pullers and buttons to hang tags, labels and of course graphics and text for garments. If you love to draw and still want to be involved in the design department but have no interest in sewing or manipulating fabric, being a CAD designer is the perfect balance of both.
A product developer’s work involves looking after all of the moving pieces when a garment goes into production. You’ll track the status of each garment and you’ll have to know at what stage exactly each garment is in at any given time. For example, has the pattern been drafted yet, has the factory sourced the fabric already, have the buttons been sewn on yet etc. You’ll need to be a very organized person for this job but if you’re good at looking after and managing lots of different things at once, you could be the perfect product developer a brand is looking for.
A visual merchandiser’s role is ultimately to sell the brand’s collection in a visually pleasing way. This means you’ll curate the boutique window displays, decide how the collection will be organized and presented in store as well as having the potential to style shoots for the latest campaigns. Visual merchandising varies greatly from brand to brand but some of the best jobs will allow you to design elaborate displays in order to convey the vision of the collection. Think about the ornate windows of Harrods in London or Galeries Lafayette in Paris and you’re on the right track.
Finally, there’s a sourcing specialist who’s job it is to find the right vendors for the collection. You’ll be responsible for sourcing vendors who carry the exact fabrics, trims or even machinery needed to produce the garments as well as sourcing factories with the right price point for the brand. This job is all about negotiating and keeping the vendors competitive. You’ll also need to source which factories can fulfill your orders as many have minimum order quantities and often a factory who can produce 200 units won’t be able to produce 2,000 units and vice versa.
So there you have it, six jobs (and there are many more!) that are crucial to the fashion industry, are just as exciting and you’ll never have to pick up a needle and thread again!
Article Commissioned by Mod'Art University of Shanghai