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5 things you need to know if you want to work in the fashion industry

The soft skills that aren’t written in the job descriptions

5 things you need to know if you want to work in the fashion industry The soft skills that aren’t written in the job descriptions

Achieving success as a newcomer in the fashion industry can at times be somewhat of a puzzle. One has to find the perfect balance of creativity, intelligence and social skill in order to navigate through the system and come out triumphant. We all see the way the industry is portrayed in the media , either to the extreme of a brutal, unforgiving , merciless space or to the opposite extreme of a glamorous, alluring shiny environment, both of which at times can be very true, but the reality is that once you do get into the industry, there are a few things that are not on the job description which you’d need to know in order to make the best of one navigate through the system and come out triumphant.

These are little things that would likely have a huge impact on your individual success, which is why we’ve composed a brief list of five useful things to know in order to successfully work in the industry. 

1. The art of emails 

When it comes to the fashion industry and emails, wording is everything. Although the industry can often seem informal, this is not or ever the case with emails. It’s very important that your emails are worded correctly and professionally in a way that makes the reader respect the writer. Especially if this is a pitch email, where you are pitching an idea or a collaboration. It is even more important that it is worded in such a way where it is professional but it also gets to the point quickly. Oftentimes these editors, brands or clients have hundreds of emails going in and out each day so it’s important to keep it short and precise. 

These are pretty much basic things you learn in high school but starting an email with hi, or hello to someone you don’t know will almost guarantee you getting ignored. The email title is also important. If for example you are a graphic artist named Joe Miller pitching an email about working with nss magazine, if you subject your email with : “Joe Miller Collaboration,” it probably won’t even get opened. Think of your subject like click bait, so it has to be something like “Graphic Artist Proposal x nss magazine.” Sending an email with questionable or unprofessional wording could cost you an opportunity, and be the determining factor between getting a response and being ignored. P.S. When responding , be sure to use the “Reply All” button. 

2. Work after work a.k.a. Strategic Networking

Like any other industry, networking is one of the most important skills to have in fashion as getting to know new people widens the circle of people you know as someone who is just starting within the industry. Networking after work , on weekends, etc, in spots that are considered “fashionable,” if in Milan, that means Bar Basso , Apollo Club, Da Giacomo Ristorante, and even sneaking into fashion week events if you have to, to make sure you are in the right circles. It’s also pivotal that you network in a strategic manner, keeping in mind that the industry is really quite small and that most of the time everyone knows everyone.

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Which means if upon meeting someone who could potentially be your new boss, you begin to complain about the incompetencies of your current boss, it’s very likely that you could get fired the next day and eventually find out that although the two might be from competing magazines or brands, that they’re actually personally good friends. Although it might sound far-fetched this is actually the case with several people in the fashion industry, which is why it is fundamental when networking to keep in mind that what you say and do in small circles could potentially get around to the wrong people.  

3. Learn to Negotiate  

Money is a very taboo topic within the fashion industry , mainly because people barely like to give it. Very rarely will you find a brand or magazine that is willing to pay you for what you’re worth. Most times they’ll either initially try to offer less than you’re worth , or even suggest you work for free, not necessarily because you’re young, but mainly because the fashion industry just loves free work. Which is why it is important for you to learn when to negotiate, and how to negotiate.

Knowing what you’re worth is important, and developing the skill of assessing when a situation is equally beneficial , whether through exposure or compensation is indispensable. Sometimes things might be worth doing for free based on the benefits of the project, and sometimes it might not.  For example , a lot of magazines like to offer credits as a form of payment  but if the magazine itself has a lower number of following compared to other magazines, then it probably wouldn’t make sense to take that opportunity. So understanding the difference between the two and learning how to make sure you’re being offered a fair situation is something that you will need to be sure you know how to do before becoming a part of the industry. 

4. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee 

In fashion, great opportunities are about 1 in 10  , they don’t come very often, but when they do come, you have to cease them quickly. You have to learn to go by with months of doing nothing, waiting for that perfect moment to come by and catch it quickly. So if you happen to go by that one bar where you see the editor of that magazine every morning, but she’s always with someone, keep waiting because by the time she finally is alone she’ll probably be familiar with seeing your face which might heighten your chances of working with her. 

5. Have a back up plan or side hustle 

In the beginning things will undoubtedly be off to a rocky start financially as a result of how tight the system is with budgets. So it’s important that in the beginning of your journey, you start off with a side job that could potentially sustain you and in the worst case scenario, use that as a backup plan in the case what you are doing, or trying to do is no longer financially sustainable. For example, doing babysitting, teaching music lessons if you are able, or anything else that you would be able to easily fit into a flexible schedule.  Although it might seem difficult at first, don’t give up so easily, it’s a system that might take a while to break into, especially if you’re not privileged enough to have prior connections. Perseverance is key, your back up plan should be your absolute last option.