Got Design & Sales Skills? Here Are 5 Roles You Can Do in the Fashion World

Ever wanted to work in fashion? You probably imagine starting off as a stylist, working as the right-hand person of an eccentric designer and learning all the fundamentals.

Or you imagine getting out your favourite Sharpie felt tips, scribbling figures in your sketchbook every spare minute, getting ideas, being inspired and pinning material around a glamourous model before seeing your creation on the catwalk.

Well, it’s not exactly like that for most people who work in fashion – it’s a very competitive industry and it takes a lot of hard work and determination to join the lofty heights of catwalk designers. But the good news is, if you play your cards right, you can definitely find work in the fashion sector – and you may even see your handiwork on the high street.

Here at Dobson Welch, we recruit for companies that manufacture for high street retailers. It’s easy to contribute to household names if you’ve got the right trade.

But how do you know what the right trade is if you don’t know something exists?

Here we break down five roles that help you get into the clothing industry if fashion is your passion.

Fashion Role 1: Garment Technologist

It’s not all manual craft in fashion. Technology is essential for meeting demand, and so a garment technologist is a crucial player in the field. A garment technologist will attend best fit meetings with high street retailers, liaise with designers, buyers and factories, and all the while working to a critical path.

You’ll also make recommendations on fabric and patterns, investigate faults, carry out quality control and ensure that the production meets budgetary requirements.

To work in this area, you can study garment technology or fashion design at university.

You can earn anywhere from £20,000 to £55,000 a year depending on your level of experience.

Fashion Role 2: Pattern Cutter

If you’re very hands-on and enjoy craft, this could be the job for you. A pattern cutter creates manual patterns for a clothing range based on the instructions given by the high street retailer. They’ll drape the fabric over a mannequin to ensure they’ve got the measurements right and develop the pattern. They’ll then liaise with the machinists to put together product samples.

They make amends to these patterns until the high street client is happy. It’s also their job to keep designers abreast of new production methods and improvements.

It’s not all manual work, however. You can definitely show off your drawing flair, but you’ll also need to be comfortable using computer-aided design.

To work in this field requires good people skills, attention to detail and the ability to work to deadlines.

If you want to get started, you can learn to become a pattern cutter by studying fashion design at university.

Earnings range from £18,000 to £45,000 dependent on experience.

Fashion Role 3: Wholesale Merchandiser

So, you love fashion, but you’re not very good at the creative side – that doesn’t mean you can’t still get involved. There are lots of roles needed in the fashion world.

As a wholesale merchandiser, you’re the first point of contact from all the retail buyers. You will work closely with the sales teams regarding prices and delivery details of potential orders. You’ll be the one to update customers on garment deliveries. You have to liaise with the fabric mill to find the best prices for your company. Finally, you’ll keep the team up-to-date on orders and chase any order confirmations.

Besides a degree in fashion design, you need to be great at project delivery and be able to work to deadlines. You’ll also need to negotiate and communicate well with people from all areas of yours and your client’s business.

Merchandisers can earn up to £45,000.

Fashion Role 4: Sales / Account Manager

The sales/account manager manages the clients, ensuring they are happy and looks out for new opportunities that will benefit them. Resting on your laurels is not enough. You have to be great at selling and upselling. You need to set and keep to targets. You’ll create strategies and help train other members of your team. It’s your job to know the products inside out, as well as the pricing structure. Finally, you’ll help with the delivery critical path, liaising with other members of the team such as the merchandising department and production.

In sales and account management, you have enormous opportunities to earn on top of your basic salary, so if you’re a natural people person with excellent skills in persuasion and negotiation, then you can do a lot worse than to get a job in sales. This is another way you can be part of the fashion fraternity without depending on your creative skills.

Earnings range from £30,000 to £50,000.

Fashion Role 5: Fashion Designer

Now we get to the coveted position of designer. You’ll be the one at the cutting edge, creating beautiful garments for the high street. You may specialise in one area, such as menswear, childrenswear, or footwear, for example. You’ll liaise with the buyers to find out what people are looking for in their clothing purchases. You’ll have up-to-the-minute knowledge of what’s on the catwalk as you get to attend fashion shows for inspiration. Of course, your designs will be more practical for the average punter. Once you have your range in mind, you have your technical team including garment technologists and pattern cutters to help you get the designs off the drawing board and into the world.

So, what does the day-to-day look like for the fashion designer? You get to sketch out your ideas, create concepts, devise mood boards and design patterns using CAD. Great presentation skills are a must as you’ll need to communicate your vision to other departments and get their buy-in.

It’s important your fashion degree is practical as well as theoretical so you can enter the industry with the necessary skillset.

Fashion designers can earn up to £55,000.

If you’re aspiring to work in the fashion industry and you don’t mind what role you start off with, then we hope the above ideas have given you some inspiration.

If you’re ready to continue your journey up the fashion career ladder, then have a look at the available roles listed on our website.

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