Make the most of your degree course and work experience opportunities to build up your portfolio and get yourself known in the fashion world
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Fashion designer
- Retail buyer
- Retail manager
- Retail merchandiser
- Textile designer
- Visual merchandiser
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Clothing/textile technologist
- Event manager
- Jewellery designer
- Magazine journalist
- Make-up artist
- Public relations officer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Getting work experience of any kind in a design studio is important. Experience in retail can also be useful. Contact fashion houses, designers, department and other retail stores and supermarket fashion labels to ask for work experience, and look for opportunities on the websites of fashion companies. You can also contact your university careers service for details of work placement opportunities.
Employment is often found through networking so try to build relationships with designers and companies. Courses are often structured to provide opportunities to work on projects with leading fashion designers, so you should take advantage of this.
There may also be opportunities to take a year out in industry, as part of a sandwich degree, work abroad as part of the Erasmus+ programme or to gain work experience in Europe or the USA before starting work in the UK.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Fashion industry employers range from top designers in well-established studios to high street retail outlets, supermarket clothing labels and manufacturing operations. Each one offers a range of employment opportunities in areas such as design work, creation, buying, marketing and PR.
Consider other less obvious areas, too, such as costume design within the television and film industry, the fashion media, and internet companies.
Recruiters may attend graduate shows at universities and snap up the most talented designers there. The biggest retail chains run graduate trainee schemes for buyers and merchandisers. Employers often fill junior posts by contacting tutors and university careers services. Recruitment may also be done through niche agencies and the press.
Skills for your CV
During your degree you develop a range of practical fashion design skills, including:
- illustration techniques
- technical drawing
- pattern cutting and draping techniques
- the use of digital technology in fashion.
You also gain an understanding of fashion trends, consumer lifestyle, brand and market awareness, marketing and enterprise, and ethical and ecological issues facing the fashion industry. In addition, you develop transferable skills including communication, presentation, problem solving, research, commercial awareness, and teamwork and collaboration.
Acquiring skills in self-promotion and portfolio presentation is also important. The portfolio that you'll have started during your degree is the most vital tool you have in your search for a job in fashion. Your book should contain your coursework as a starting point and be continually developed.
In the case of designers, your portfolio should contain themed collections of garments. It's your best chance to show your practical skills and impress upon a potential employer your natural creativity and flair.
The majority of fashion graduates go straight into employment after their studies, but a small percentage go on to study a Masters, perhaps specialising in areas such as childrenswear, embroidery, theatrical costume, textiles, millinery or shoe design.
Other Masters courses allow graduates to investigate the social, economic, ethical, environmental or cultural side of fashion in more detail. Some MAs in fashion are very practical and are assessed on that basis, for example, by requiring the student to deliver an innovative collection. Others involve essays and a dissertation.
For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in fashion and textile design.
What do fashion graduates do?
The most common occupations for fashion graduates include clothing designers, sales roles, marketing professionals, buyers and procurement officers and clothing advisers.
|Working and studying||1.9|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Arts, design and media||35|
|Retail, catering and bar work||20.4|
|Marketing, PR and sales||18.8|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||4.9|
Find out what fashion graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
Find out more
- Discover 5 ways to get into fashion design.