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 often provide the opportunity to work on projects with leading fashion designers.
There may also be opportunities to take a year out in industry, as part of a sandwich degree, or to work abroad as part of the Erasmus+ programme.
It may be possible to get 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.
Employers within the fashion industry 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 to this, you develop a range of transferable skills, including communication, presentation, problem solving, research, commercial awareness, and teamwork and collaboration.
Developing skills in self-promotion and portfolio presentation are also important. The portfolio that you will 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 but should also be continually developed.
In the case of designers, it should contain themed collections of garments. It is 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.
What do fashion graduates do?
Four of the top five jobs held by fashion graduates in employment in the UK six months after graduation are clothing designer, marketing associate professional, buyer and procurement officer, and merchandiser and window dresser.
|Working and studying||1.1|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Arts, design and media||28.2|
|Retail, catering and bar work||21.5|
|Marketing, PR and sales||20.2|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||7.1|
Find out what art and design 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.