What are your career options for a role in fashion?

Could you see yourself working in the fashion industry after education? There are a wide range of options available aside from the ones you may expect, such as designers and models. From a career in fashion-related finance, to discovering a role in communications, the opportunities are varied.

Pattern graders

Pattern graders play an important part in the production of fashion garments. They focus on producing scaled-up and scaled-down versions of design patterns, which enables the manufacturers to produce the same patterned piece of clothing in different sizes.

A typical day for a pattern grader might entail; the outline of a pattern with scanning equipment, quality checking to ensure that the final pattern is in-line with the original design and creating sample garments from the pattern to send to prospective buyers.

As well as having an interest in design and textiles, you should also have some mathematical abilities. You must be able to take accurate measurements and make calculations in order to scale the patterns correctly. It’s also important that you enjoy being part of a team, so to cooperate with others in the design process, and be able to confidently use IT to work with a digitising table.

If you don’t want to go to university, a job as a pattern grader could be for you. Instead, you could take the apprenticeship route through college by studying subjects such as fashion or textiles. Or, work your way up from an assistant or pattern cutter to become a grader in a fashion company.

Garment technologist

Garment technologists have the responsibility of quality control and investigative work with regards to the materials that are used to create fashion pieces.

Technologists work to improve the design and development of new materials. Through testing new combinations of materials and fibres, people in this role look to find the best type of fabric for what’s to be made. These people work closely with designers, pattern graders and buying teams to find the right type of fabric for what’s to be made.

As part of this role, you might be asked to look into the efficiency of the company too. This might be to do with price, and would involve liaising with buyers and suppliers to negotiate a cost that’s within the budget of the project. Or, they might be looking to make the company more sustainable, and therefore the technologist would investigate the production of the fabrics.

It’s important that you’re aware of how the textiles and manufacturing process works before pursuing this career. Employers may also expect you to have a degree in a related topic, such as garment technology and production, or you may complete a module around this as part of a wider subject. Or, look out for apprenticeship schemes and junior roles, where you can work your way up to this role.

Fashion illustrators

When you see fashion drawings and diagrams in magazines or in the manufacturing and design process, these are often created by fashion illustrators. They work closely with designers to create conceptual sketches and illustrations of fashion products. In addition to this, they may produce advertising copy and images for promotional material for print and online coverage. To succeed in this role, you need to be able to use computer design, as well as drawing by hand and have an eye for fashion.

It’s true that many fashion illustrators have a degree in graphic design or something similar. To get accepted onto a degree of this kind, you will need GCSEs and potentially A levels, or entry based on passing a foundation course. Alternatively, you can build up a strong portfolio and gain experience in relevant positions to impress prospective employees.

Fashion accountant

Fashion and finance can come together to create an interesting role.

You might not have thought of it, but there are a range of finance roles available in the fashion sector — from retail accountants to accountants in textiles who ensure that a budget is adhered to when buying materials. Roles like this allow you to be involved with designers and the garment-making process, whilst keeping finances under control.

What sort of educational background do you need for this sort of role? Start by taking Maths at A-level and progress to studying a financial role at university. This might be Economics, Accounting or another form of Financial Studies. As part of your degree, take up the opportunity to undergo a year in industry — this can give you an insight into the field that you’re going into and give you some invaluable experience to put on your CV.

Fashion journalist

As a fashion journalist, you’ll be asked to report on fashion trends and events.

There are now a range of channels where this content is needed, both online and offline. You could also go freelance, but work isn’t guaranteed here. As part of the job, you’ll likely be required to travel and meet new people to conduct interviews and get the latest on fashion stories.

If you have a love for fashion and enjoy writing, you could be off to a good start. There are also some educational choices that you can make to better your chances of getting a career in this field. Choosing A-levels such as English Language will further your creative writing skills, for example. There are specialty degrees out there too, such as the Fashion Communications course which will teach you more about the sector and increase your employability.

Creating your own writing portfolio can also show employers what you’re capable of. Start your own fashion blog to write about the latest news in the sector and approach editors for freelance opportunities. Networking is also a great way to get to know about future vacancies. Try to secure unpaid work in relevant positions to build your experience too.

Which role in fashion will you pursue?

This article was created by CT Shirts, retailers of men’s dress shirts.