I always say that there is more to fashion than meets the eye. There is a lot more in the critical path or the journey of a garment until it gets in the shopping bag. That means there are activities or tasks that are involved to get the garment on to the shopfloor or website. The skills and hands involved are numerous and it is important to analyse this critical path or journey in oder to identify and determine the careers and routes in the fashion industry.
When I entered the fashion industry, I had the very basic secondary school sewing education and what I thought was a passion for fashion. However, despite it all I still felt that I needed more out of fashion. I felt that something was lacking , I was thirsting for and wanted to know more about fashion. The inquisitive nature in me always wondered about the inputs into a dress when I bought it. I would read the labels and would wander about the processes involved from the knowledge of what the customer wants, decision of the design, to the manufacturing. Surely there was more than just the cutting and sewing I had learnt in secondary education. It is that inquisitiveness and imaginations that urged me to pursue studying fashion, making a radical change from a long career in finance and public service.
Studying fashion not only gave me credibility but opened my eyes to a whole different world and my perception of the industry. I was surprised with how in the entire course I had to learn how to use paint brushes and paints, screen prints, colour pencils, magazine cut outs, pencils,fabrics, sewing equipement, ruler, CAD software, cameras, etc. With the general perception that fashion is a frivolous subject to study, I had a rude awakening to discover the high level of academic aptitude required for the intense, high level researches, communication and writing. It turned out fashion is not as frivolous when I had to write a dissertation that has absolutely nothing to do with handiwork.
I discovered that it is through studying fashion that one discovers what fashion is all about and gets the knowledge of the journey of a garment. Through it all you get to understand exactly where your passion of fashion lies ,either in specific areas or better still where you can fit in the journey to apply your passion; and in accordance to what you mastered during training and/or where your strengths are. This is how the fashion careers come into being in this glamorous, unique industry. There are of course different skills, talents and attributes for different specialisms within the industry. All kinds of skills are required depending with the specialism. One word I hear a lot is creativity. Someone would say I’m creative so I could be a designer but that is not what creativity applies to only in fashion. There are many ways to be creative and it might be imagination, drawing, a sense of aesthetics, styling, colour , writing, research or good problem solving.
Fashion is not all about designers and it is important to identify your strengths and hence speciality. I find a lot of people who are of the perception I had before my training that because they can think to cut a the basic silhoutte from a piece of fabric and sew it up, they are designers? No, no in the real world you will need a researcher, the predictor, the imaginative person, the designer, illustrator, pattern drafter, cutter, machinist etc. Surely one cannot be a master of everything and that usually leads to a master of none or confusion.
I started a business in the prom night industry with a whole different approach. Instead of presenting myself as a designer who can design and make prom dresses, I instead go first into the class room and and talk about fashion and the careers. It is interesting how they get so surprised to realise that with a Maths, History or Law degree they can still work in fashion. I then turn their attention to the prom night itself and the careers and entrpreneurship routes that can be followed from everything that is required for the prom night. That range from the vehicle hire, photography, catering, hairdressing, beauty, event planning and management, hospitality etc. I have found this very rewarding as it opens up a whole different perception to fashion and I have had business teachers taking an interest in my workshops.
With my fashion experiences, training and qualification, I now know where my strengths lie , where they fit in the spectrum , who I am in the industry and what most imprtantly what I enjoy most and passionate about.
In the next blogs I will be looking into the diffErent careers and routes one by one so watch this space for the informative posts.