Make the most of your degree 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:
- Arts administrator
- Clothing/textile technologist
- Event manager
- Higher education lecturer
- Jewellery designer
- Magazine journalist
- Make-up artist
- Market researcher
- Public relations officer
- Talent agent
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
It is crucial that you build up your portfolio while at university so that you can showcase your design talent to potential employers. As well as using projects within your degree to do this, you should aim to get external work experience to extend your skills.
These experiences can be varied including any kind of work in a design studio or in retail. Contact fashion houses, design departments 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.
Networking is crucial and you can often find employment by establishing relationships with designers and companies. Many courses are 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 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.
Other employers include universities and colleges for teaching positions, and PR and marketing agencies where it may be possible to specialise in fashion and design. It’s also possible to be a self-employed fashion designer, marketing your work through agents or directly with buyers from large businesses and clothing outlets.
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.
Plus, you develop a range of 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 with work experience and projects that you subsequently complete.
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.
You could also choose further study that will take you in a different career direction but that is still connected to fashion, such as teaching on a fashion course, marketing fashion collections or journalism for fashion magazines.
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 sales, marketing and related associate professionals, design occupations, other administrative occupations, sales and retail assistants, media professionals, admin, artistic, literary and media occupations and teaching professionals.
|Working and studying||6.9|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Marketing, PR and sales||34.9|
|Retail, catering and customer service||16.7|
|Clerical, secretarial and administrative||15.1|
|Arts, design and media||13.7|
Find out what other fashion graduates are doing 15 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.