how do i make it in the fashion industry? you asked, we answered
As part of ASOS' Making It, we gave our readers the chance to ask the editors of i-D and the head honchos at ASOS HQ what they really want to know about working in the fashion industry. Here are their responses...
Holly Shackleton, Editor in Chief
"What are the first steps to starting your own label?" @alexpijut
As with launching anything nowadays - a magazine, clothing label, website, record label, band, shop - you have to be crystal clear on who you are, what you're trying to say and why people should care. What is your point of difference, and how will it stand out in an already over-crowded marketplace? If you can answer these questions with honesty and clarity then I think you're good to go!
"Do you think it is better to explore the fashion industry first and try different things and gain as much experience as you can, or go straight and focus on what you are really into?" @aisya27
There are so many wonderful, creative and rewarding jobs in fashion that if you're not 100% sure on what you want to do, then applying for internships in different fields is a great way to open your eyes to all the options out there. That said if you have your heart set on a particular career - be that journalist, photographer, stylist, designer -there's no point delaying get stuck straight in!
"What are some key ways to create good connections/relationships with established brands and creatives in the industry? Where do you begin?" @juliasarteschi
Again, internships are invaluable. Work hard, be polite and make yourself indispensable and people will remember you. Then when a job arises later at said magazine/fashion house/studio/ PR agency, you'll hopefully be their first port of call. Starting your own website or zine is another great way to not only find your voice but meet other young creatives starting out like yourself. It's also a great excuse to put a request in to interview/ photograph your fashion icons building relationships in the process!
"What is the best strategy for a designer to stay relevant?" @v.aura
As with any role in fashion, the best way to stay relevant - in my opinion - is to be flexible, move with the times and show an honesty and integrity in all you do.
Hattie Collins, Features Director
"How do I stay motivated?" @hanatralala
Don't be motivated by money, but do be motivated by success. Set yourself goals - impossible ones as well as attainable - and keep them in mind but don't be weighed down by your own expectations. Your journey can change at any point, so trust your instincts and learn what to say 'yes' to - but more importantly, what to say no to. Be aware of what your peers are doing but don't study anyone too closely - that can lead to disillusionment and disappointment. Worry about your own lane rather than distract yourself with what's happening to the left and right of you. Motivation in the short term can be more practical; allow yourself an episode of First Dates when you've sewn that pocket, written that news piece, or scanned in those images. We all need downtime and a lot of the time, doing too much can have a detrimental effect. Give yourself a break now and then and you'll be much more productive.
"How do you put yourself out there after university if you didn't have a placement, so that you get a job?" @shu_shumie
I worked in bars and shops while trying to make a name for myself. I didn't know a single person in the industry, but I set my sights on a couple of publications (very small ones) and emailed them pitches until one of them agreed to commission me. Once I had that commission, I went to another (small) magazine and told them I wrote for magazine x - magazine y offered me a work placement. I made £35 a week and continued to work in various bars until a year in when they offered me a full-time job. It was at a very low salary, but no one gets in this industry to make money. The first years were hard, I was broke, but i got to travel the world interviewing, and meeting, some incredible people.
Zeba Lowe, Head of Fashion at ASOS
"What's the best way to make your CV eye-catching to get jobs as a potential fashion photographer/assistant photographer and what do clients really look for in experience?" @josephineweatherley
When I'm looking at the book of a photographer we might want to work with, firstly I'll check to see if their work fits with our brand values. I'm interested in a varied portfolio but also something consistent throughout that reflects their style. I also look at the kind of models a photographer likes to use and the kind of stylists they've been working with. So I'd say it's important to get work experience with credible, experienced photographers and stylists, but also to have a strong personal voice that shines through in your work.
"What exactly does it take to keep you going in a fashion industry?" @mo_mudi
It sounds like a cliché, but never give up. As long as you're passionate about what you're doing, and really believe in it, then you'll always be inspired and people will always want to hire you. Have a good reputation and be known as someone who's a pleasure to work with. Be polite, creative and hardworking, think outside the box and bring a fresh aesthetic to what you do.
Lynette Nylander, Deputy Editor
"Any tips on where we can meet industry professionals and make long-lasting connections?" @na.zol
The great thing about social media is that it means you don't need to wait to meet industry professionals, you can get a direct line of contact by private messaging them on Instagram or tweeting them and I think you'd be surprised how receptive people in the industry can be. Also don't be shy if you see someone you admire from the industry in real life, go up to them and tell them why you like and respect what they do, everyone likes a compliment and it is great way to open up a dialogue into something more.
"What's a good path to take to become an editor for a fashion magazine and what does the position entail?" @quinnlittle
I can tell you from personal experience, there is no set path. I studied Fashion Design and Marketing but learnt quite early on that I wasn't the strongest at garment construction but I did find the Marketing part useful, in particular the cultural studies component of my course. I truly think my personal interests, an inquisitive mind and my natural love of magazines, arts and culture led me to where I am today. I would say studying English Literature, Fashion Journalism, Cultural Studies or Anthropology at university may help with being an editor but is in no way a prerequisite. Having an open mind, being interested in the world around you and having natural writing ability and the aptitude to sniff out a good story is the most important.
"Do you think it's more important to grow a strong local community around your brand or try to get international attention as soon as possible, which might not be as long-term?" @liliana.margarita
I think it is easier to grow a community in the area that you live, simply because you are able to speak to people face to face, connect and relate to them and get them to have more of an understanding of what you are trying to do with your brand. I also think something great doesn't stay a secret for long, things with local buzz usually blow up into something much more. Just look at Palace or Vetements.
"What do you suggest as a start-up project to gain relevance in the field of fashion journalism?" @_thisfriday
Don't wait for relevancy, shove yours in people's faces. Create your own magazine and tell the stories you would like to see or have a site that is completely your own unique perspective on the fashion industry. You could be the next Tim Blanks but no-one is going to know it if you don't shout it from the rooftops and have an outlet for people to see what you do.
John Mooney, Creative Director, Menswear and Production at ASOS
"What does it take to be a creative director?" @lifeinecru
This is dependent on where you work. Working at ASOS, and with the speed of growth of the business, it forced me to look at new things, with my role influencing more than just the product. It definitely requires a solid team behind you to be a 'good' creative director. With that team; the role becomes one of fostering talent, acknowledging good work and challenging people to think differently and be a touch more progressive. At the same time it's important to be developing creative directors of the future so it can't be about taking ownership; it has to be about giving them the exposure you had and changing the lens through which they view the business. At ASOS, it is very much a team effort; everyone has a voice.
"What's the best way to land a dream job?" @fiona_bmhr
I've always fostered and encouraged my friends and family to do what they enjoy, I think you'll always happy that way and that's key. There's no point dreaming of being something that doesn't naturally feel like it's part of your journey in life. Associate yourself with like minded people, foster creativity and work hard to get a foot in the door.
"What kind of jobs involving art, like drawing and painting, are in the fashion industry?" @mrn.krb
There's loads of opportunity: print, illustration, textile design through to set building and store visual merchandising. Generally, being skilled artistically isn't something that can be taught but it is something that can be honed, and there are lots of businesses out there these days who want raw talent.
"How do you become a successful fashion designer…?" @alicesharpey
It depends on what sort of 'fashion designer' you want to be. Do you want your own brand? Or do you want to work for someone else's? Do you want to work in retail? The routes to each are quite different and the skill-sets vary; all based on the infrastructure of the business that you work for or potentially own. If you're starting up your own business, there's going to be a lot of admin accounts and financial work that you have to get involved in, which not all creatives are the best at! At a brand, you're going to have to adapt to the brand identity, so initially it might be quite hard to show your own creativity and flair. In retail, the infrastructure is huge and the team behind the range very vast. The key thing is to apply yourself, appreciate that it's not all about creating clothes, it's about listening and knowing your customer. But thinking differently and preparing yourself for the new digital world that we now sell clothes in is a good place to start if you want to be a designer.
Felix Petty, Assistant Editor
"Can you do it without design or fashion related schooling?" @pizzamybrain
Yes, but it's harder. Nothing compares to experience, but education is incredibly important as well, even just for helping to form a professional network or finding like minded people, and even providing a place for you to experiment and find your identity. I learnt more in three years at art school that I could've ever hoped for.
"What's the best way for a photographer to break into the industry?" @michnoon
There's no correct way I think; take good pictures and build a portfolio, obviously, but find your niche, find your identity, find your aesthetic, capture something you think no one else is doing, and of course, be persistent, overnight success doesn't happen. We live in a society dominated more than ever by images, we're bombarded by images, it's easier than ever to be seen, but harder than ever to stand out.
"What qualities are most sought after when choosing employees in the fashion industry? @raejessehoward
Be hard-working, reliable, open-minded and talented.
"Will creating a social media presence and a blog help you to succeed within the fashion industry?"@journeyofmine__
It depends on how good your blog is.
"Is moving to a fashion capital essential?" @michaelseleski
Not at all, or at least not anymore. The infrastructure and history might be there, but we live in a global world now, there are thriving creative scenes in Japan, China, South America, Africa, Middle East… everywhere basically! If you're good enough people will take notice. Look at Guo Pei, she's lived and worked in China her whole life.
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