Graduate Advice

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Fashion Design Graduates – Next steps

Top tips and advice from our experienced consultant Ruth Crook.

So, you have just handed in your portfolio and final collection and you’ve finally got a minute to start thinking “What next?”.  With hand-ins happening all across the country, now is the time to start putting the time in to your job search without CADS and technical drawings clouding your thoughts, or dreaming of leaving your final portfolio on the bus!

Looking for a design role in the fashion industry can seem daunting with many falling into the trap of sending out a tonne of applications and getting frustrated or down about not hearing back. However, here at Fashion Personnel, we have put together your job hunting check list to help land that dream job!

1. First of all, start with the end in mind.  Where do you want to work and what level of the market? If McQueen and Burberry got a pound for every application they got, they’d be rich. Oh wait…

If you are very commercial and prolific, have you looked at suppliers? There are suppliers across the country and you could end up in your dream job in Nottingham. Brands will routinely show at Trade Shows, like Pure London, and are great places to get a foot hold in design. 

Do you want to get the first plane out after graduation? If so, start to look at other fashion and textile hubs around the world. America, the Far East and Australia will all have design teams that target the UK market, so you will still have relevant experience upon returning to the UK.

2. Now that you have established the market you’re targeting, you need to make sure your portfolio and CV are telling the same story. Make sure your portfolio is at the same taste level that you are applying for.

Portfolios should follow the same format:

  • Cover
  • Mood
  • Trend
  • Colour
  • Fabric/Yarns/Colourways (garment/knit/print designers delete as appropriate)
  • Research/Comp shops
  • Initial Design Development
  • CADS  and Tech Packs
  • Final Line Up and Photo Shoots (graduate collections).

If you have industry experience already make sure you have this in your portfolio. This includes all CADS and Tech Packs you have done.  Most businesses use Photoshop so showing a great use of Photoshop in your portfolio is ideal.

You may be asked to submit a project after interview for some businesses.  I would advise Mood Board > Trend > Colour > Comp Shops > Initial Design Development > 5 key shapes > CADS, for a punchy submittal.  Make sure this is under 5MB but saved in the best resolution possible.

CV’s should be linear, typed on a word document with all experience in bullet points. Adobe doesn’t spell check and overly decorative CVs can detract from the key information.

3. Once you have your CV and portfolio ready, then you can start approaching businesses. Remember, do not spam the same business as you are most likely emailing the same person every time and no one likes to be harassed. Don’t be afraid to call and speak with businesses. Call agencies and send your CV to the best person to aid your job search.  For designers, it may be that you do another internship or placement.  The government is getting tougher on unpaid internships but this is still the norm in Fashion. If you intern, make sure you are doing design tasks and make the most of the opportunity!

Have realistic expectations. An average starting salary is £16,000 - £20,000 dependent on the business and location. You’re not in fashion for the money (I’m afraid).

4. Keep a log of applications. When did you apply? When did you hear back or interview? If you are working with more than one agency, make sure you don’t let any wires cross. This is good housekeeping and we would advise to do this throughout your career.

5. Network! Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile, business cards, an online portfolio with a password (unless you have a great lawyer…).  The industry is super small and you want to always leave a great lasting impression. 

Now that you are on your way, make sure you take a look at our current vacancy lists here.We look forward to hearing from you soon!