The Alternative Route into…Fashion

Fashion Week Interns - Source: NYTimes
Fashion Week Interns – Source: NYTimes

Global Fashion Weeks are in full swing – and for those who didn’t find a way to work there or experience it, don’t feel deflated. You may feel as though you’ll never get into the fashion industry without a fashion internship, and it’s almost impossible to find a way to stand out amongst a crowd of stand-out people and to be unique in an industry that is built upon the principles of ‘out of the ordinary’…but this is not the case. There are multiple ways you could foray into fashion without selling your soul for a Fashion Week after-party guest list invite in the hopes of ‘networking’. The fierce competition and inner structure of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ means you need to find other routes, side paths and tunnels to gain the experience you need and to pop up into the industry you so covet. So what alternative routes could you take with these professions…

If you’re interested in:

PR and Marketing

Almost all companies need PR and marketing assistance, but most fashion PR roles require previous experience that may be very hard to get, given the sheer volume of candidates seeking the same thing. The skills you gain in a PR role in any industry will be applicable to Fashion, and an employer would be foolish not to consider an applicant with great PR experience in a different field, and a demonstrable knowledge and interest in fashion. You can jump right into the fashion industry at a better role than if you tried to make your way in fresh from your studies. Get in to any established company and learn the ins and outs of how to manage markets. All experience will be invaluable, and will prove to yourself and potential employers that you are adaptable to all industries. Have a look at these great paid internships at PR and Everything In Between, Inspired Labs, and BOC.

Journalism/Column Writing/Magazine Editing

News – Any and every type of newsroom experience is worth gold and highly valued, whether it is at a local paper or reporting live from the Met Gala. Find a publication to gain experience from, observe and partake in the scrambled flurry of a newsroom environment and do your own fashion reporting – your portfolio will be very impressive as you switch from hard news to style updates with ease. Sub-editing, copy-writing, layout and news reporting will be skills that can be transferred to all journalistic careers.

Features – An important thing to remember, is that you don’t need to write about ‘fashion’ to be published in its pages. The wonderful thing about fashion magazines, stories and features is that they don’t have to be about fashion. Magazines are highly diverse periodicals in their content, from world news and food critiques to travel features and investigations into diet fads. There are no boundaries, so don’t surround yourself with imaginary ones! Have a blog to try out content with, see what people respond to. You never know what attention you could garner from it, either. Lisa Armstrong, contributor to the Telegraph and British Vogue, studied English and French Literature before pursuing Journalism, showing that prolific fashion writers come from broader disciplines.

Magazine Editing – Your dream may be to one day become the editor of a fashion magazine, and the ones you admire may not have taken the route you expected. Editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman studied Social Anthropology, worked as an assistant at a record label and a secretary at a magazine, and is now the longest-running editor of British Vogue.

The Mondelez Graduate Scheme encapsulates many disciplines into a brilliant training opportunity.

Stylist – General and Administration

This highly sought-after position still holds much mystery – how do you get into styling? Searching the internet for these answers returns vague information about ‘getting contacts’, and stylist biographies seem to miss out a chunk of details on what happened between leaving school and booking Gemma Arterton’s BAFTA wardrobe selections. The main skills to build in the run-up to a stylist career are; organisation, time management, contact relations, and organisation again. General admin positions will prepare you for much of this, as will ‘runner’ roles and vacancies. Rather than sweating it out for free as is expected backstage or on set as a styling assistant, seek a paid internship and build up a styling portfolio of your own. This internship at luxury concierge Savoir Management could be just the start you were looking for!


A notoriously difficult profession, pursuing a career in fashion design takes a lot of work, but you do not need to to push yourself straight into fashion designing – you can start anywhere! Fine Art, Sculpture, Textiles, Ceramics, Metalwork, Graphics and more can forge careers in pattern cutting, spatial interiors, accessories and jewellery design. This Independent article states that, “it’s also incredibly competitive finding a job in fashion. A 2003 survey completed by the Higher Education Statistics Agency highlighted that fewer than one in three fashion and textiles graduates who were in employment six months after graduation were employed in a design role. It is likely that the 10,000 students currently studying fashion and textiles-related courses at higher education level will have employment problems.” Give yourself a better chance of getting into the fashion industry if you are unable to find fashion-related experience straight away. Look into any artistic discipline; apprenticeships and internships are vital, and upping your digital or animation skills will only serve you well in this technological era – why not apply for an Animations and Design internship with The Like Minded?

…Or if you don’t really know (or care about) what you want to do, but you just want to be in the Fashion Industry…you just need to explore what you are good at and what you enjoy. You can do absolutely anything and still be involved in fashion – the industry needs the same professionals as any other – so be free with your creativity, whether you’re a writer or an economics graduate. Start off in any position that will give you solid training and experience, then find your own route into fashion once you know what you’re doing. It’s an incredibly fast-paced industry which is not all glamour and is a lot of hard work, so if you’re really passionate about it but are struggling to get your foot in that polished mahogany door, remember that these fashion legends came from varied beginnings:

  • Vivienne Westwood – Teacher
  • Thierry Mugler – Dancer
  • Christian Dior – Art dealer
  • Miuccia Prada – PhD, political science

Breathe easy and enjoy yourself – don’t become so stressed with the desire to work in fashion that you forget what fashion is all about; freedom to be and express yourself! Build your training with relevant internships and forge your own avenue, and Intern Avenue is a great start.

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