The fashion industry boasts a trillion-dollar worth globally, and its influence permeates nearly every aspect of daily life. From the world of high fashion to commercial retail, the industry provides wardrobes for everyday consumers, serves as a platform for expressing individual style, and launches worldwide trends.
Over the last decade, the explosion of digital technology and the global use of social media has drastically changed the fashion industry. Now, merchandise can be shared and bought across the world in a matter of seconds. It’s not just about what apparel looks like and how it fits — it’s also about the customer’s brand experience.
With the growth and global scale of the fashion industry comes a host of potential business careers. There are opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded individuals to launch their own brands, public relations experts to be the communications arm of brand and product storytelling, and careers as stylists, creative directors, and designers to scratch that creative itch.
Pursuing a degree in fashion merchandising will set you on a path to having a dream career that is creative, innovative, and highly rewarding. Careers in the fashion industry are wide-ranging, dynamic, and limitless, allowing for a mix of creativity and business savvy in your career.
Explore the opportunities to work in the fashion industry and discover what potential career path is the right fit for your skills, interests, and goals.
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Careers in Fashion
A fashion merchandiser is responsible for forecasting popular fashion trends before they’re in style in order to target a specific demographic or customer base. Whether by monitoring influencer culture, listening and engaging with those around them, or keeping abreast of current events, fashion merchandisers have their fingers on the pulse of what’s popular.
It’s not just about being trendy, either. In addition, if a merchandiser works for a fashion designer or brand, they are responsible for estimating appropriate sizes, quantity, and price points for each clothing piece prior to manufacturing and selling.
“It’s essentially the science of making sure that you have the right goods available at the right price, time, and amount, in exactly the right places,” according to The Art Institute.
“While fashion merchandising encompasses a variety of responsibilities, in any fashion merchandising position, it will be key that you know how to understand, predict, and respond to consumer wants and behaviors to maximize business sales and revenue.”
Merchandisers can also work on behalf of retail stores that sell hundreds of designer brands, like Nordstrom. Retail buyers, as they’re also called, develop buying plans, negotiate with vendors, and order merchandise for the store to sell to customers.
Similar careers in fashion-related to merchandising and buying include:
- Account management, overseeing relationships between clothing manufacturers and retail stores
- Store management, monitoring day-to-day sales and operations of a clothing store
- Visual merchandising of storefront displays and layouts of stores for optimal customer experience
- Marketing specialists promote brands and products to target audiences using various methods such as digital marketing and social media engagement
- Merchandise consultants assist fashion brands in hitting their business goals and offer strategic marketing and management consulting
Like entrepreneurs in any other industry, fashion entrepreneurs mix their love of fashion and business savviness to create and collaborate with brands and designers that reflect their own personal brand.
Entrepreneurs are flexible by nature and able to adapt to the changing demands of the fashion industry, their brand, business decisions, and trends. Entrepreneurs usually have several streams of revenue that make up their income.
Two prominent examples of modern-day fashion entrepreneurs are social media influencers and bloggers. Influencers and bloggers alike create and curate their own personal style and grow their following through credibility and relatability among their fans. Influencers primarily share products, brands, and their lifestyle on social media, whereas bloggers are writers, editors, and stylists for their own personal brand, only using social media to help drive engagement to their blog website.
Influencers and bloggers have become hugely influential in partnerships with brands and designers, particularly brands that have lost popularity among younger audiences. Fashion entrepreneurs can also be designers themselves, have a side hustle as a brand’s social media manager, or even balance a full-time job in public relations while blogging on the side!
Fashion entrepreneurship is ideal for those who want to explore various aspects of the fashion industry while scaling their marketable skills and increasing income through multiple streams. Many fashion entrepreneurs end up starting their own business to make finances and taxes simpler and to be recognized in their career as a single brand.
Branding and marketing are essential in every industry, but the rise of digital marketing, social media, and innovative technologies has brought the fashion industry to an entirely new level.
No longer can designers and brands just highlight their latest collection in a mail catalog. Seasonal collections have become full-fledged brands unto themselves with customer personas, lifestyles, price points, and color schemes.
Loyal and potential customers alike must be absorbed into the experience of the brand or designer both digitally and in person. Clothing stores have carefully curated scents and music to create an atmosphere for the customer. Advertising must feature models that represent the customer base. Brands are also expected now to take stands on social, economic, and political current events. Experiential marketing such as launch events and installations are on the rise in the fashion industry. One wrong marketing or branding decision can destroy a brand’s reputation.
Professionals responsible for marketing and branding often hold roles in the marketing or creative departments in fashion houses or for brands, coordinating and strategizing all marketing, advertising, and branding efforts. Marketing and branding can also be outsourced to marketing agencies, where the agency manages and consults with several clients in the fashion or adjacent industries.
For those looking to flex their creative muscles, a career in fashion design is the direction to take. Arguably the most creative of all roles in the fashion industry, designers are on the ground floor of the latest trends.
Not only are fashion designers responsible for designing individual pieces and collections of clothing every season, but they also serve as creative directors of branding initiatives and coordinators of runway fashion shows. They must have strong visual art and sewing skills.
“Fashion is not an art, fashion is the art of living,” said designer Marc Jacobs in a Masterclass video.
Unlike other fashion careers, fashion designers create the trends, choose the lifestyle of the customer, and pick colors that reflect the season or inspiration behind the designs.
Designers don’t have to just design clothes. Illustrators help designers visualize collections before the pieces are created, and textile designers create original textiles used by designers and brands.
Collaborations between textile designers and manufacturers and fashion brands have increased significantly over the past decade. The popular rise of social media and the online shop Etsy has boosted small and self-made textile designers and illustrators to national and international popularity.
For example, British textile designer Liberty London is frequently used by brands in clothing and accessories collaborations during the spring and summer months. And Sara Fitz, a watercolor illustrator based in New England, has her own brick and mortar store and has collaborated with large brands like L.L. Bean, One Kings Lane, and Chappy Wrap using her designs.
The rise in digital and social media begs for an increase in visual content for customers to obsess over and engage with. Photography and videography is a critical career in the fashion industry, taking photos and editing videos of runway shows, fashion events, and for advertising campaigns.
Arguably one of the most famous fashion photographers is Annie Leibovitz, who frequently has her photography featured in the biggest fashion magazines in the world. She’s responsible for capturing some of the biggest celebrities in high-fashion designs. Her inspiration comes from telling the story of the individual in the portrait and how to best showcase the clothing on their body.
Social media allows for images and videos to be shared in real-time and instantly. Social media managers are oftentimes responsible for capturing, editing, and posting content showcasing behind the scenes inspiration for photo shoots and branding events.
“Fashion’s not about looking back. It’s always about looking forward,” said Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine.
Fashion magazines, while declining along with other print media, still hold enormous weight over what designs and brands will be popular each month. Several fashion magazines, such as Vogue, have shifted much of their content to the digital space for readers. For example, Vogue’s popular 73 Questions interviews with celebrities reach nontraditional readers and younger fans of the historic fashion publication in a viral way.
– [Interviewer] Karlie Kloss.
– Hi, how you doing Joe?
– [Interviewer] We finally did it.
– I mean, I’ve only been waiting for my 73 questions for years.
– [Interviewer] And it’s finally happened. What are you working on right now?
– It’s the last day of summer camp here at Kode with Klossy.
– [Interviewer] Okay. That is why we’re here. Is this what’s keeping you most busy in life right now?
– Yes. Kode with Klossy, and traveling the world, and you know, world domination.
– [Interviewer] What’s the first thing you thought of this morning?
– Whether I should take the subway or a cab. Traffic.
– [Interviewer] What are you most excited about in life right now?
– My Kode with Klossy scholars and all the ways they’re going to change the world.
– [Interviewer] Okay. What’s your typical workout regimen?
– Cardio, abs, and booty.
– [Interviewer] Now, I just gotta get this out of the way ’cause the world deserves to know, is everything cool with you and Taylor?
– The world needs to know. Well Jennifer Lawrence was interested. Jen don’t worry. Taylor and I are still really good friends.
– [Interviewer] Well that’s good to hear.
– You want some coffee?
– [Interviewer] I would love some coffee.
– Come on.
– [Interviewer] Okay. Favorite brunch spot in New York City?
– I love the Egg Shop. After I ran the marathon last year, I went there and ordered one of everything on the menu.
– [Interviewer] Okay. Favorite place to visit in New York City.
– My office in SoHo.
– [Interviewer] Now as a native Missourian, how would you describe the Midwest to the rest of the world?
– Us Midwesterners are the nicest people on earth and we know a thing or two about fried food.
– [Interviewer] Alright. How did you get discovered as a model?
– I was walking in a mall when I was 13 years old.
– [Interviewer] What’s the first show that you ever walked?
– (Whispers) Calvin Klein. (louder) Calvin Klein.
– [Interviewer] What show stands out and why?
– The first Dior show I ever opened.
– [Interviewer] And congratulations on your engagement! Let me see that ring! Can I see the ring?
– Thank you.
– [Interviewer] Oh wow. Now where did you guys get engaged?
– In upstate New York.
– Thank you.
– [Interviewer] How did it go down?
– It was a romantic weekend just the two of us.
– [Interviewer] Karlie, what’s the most incredible location you’ve ever shot a cover?
– Oh, I did a shoot at the SpaceX factory. Super cool.
– [Interviewer] What’s the most difficult and challenging shoot that you’ve ever had to do in all of your career?
– I did an Annie Leibovitz shoot in a blizzard wearing a swimsuit.
– [Interviewer] Would you change anything about your career?
– Not a thing.
– [Interviewer] So, no regrets.
– I feel like I’ve learned a lot.
– [Destiny] Oh hey, Karlie.
– Hi, how you doing, Destiny?
– Just coding.
– [Interviewer] Who was that?
– That’s my girl Destiny. One of my Kode with Klossy scholars.
– [Interviewer]Ah, let’s go see ’em.
– You wanna meet the rest?
– [Interviewer] Yes.
– [Interviewer] Who’s the most stylish person alive?
– Annette de la Renta.
– [Interviewer] Best thing you’ve ever worn?
– A Dior couture gown.
– [Interviewer] Something you wish you hadn’t worn.
– Oh my gosh. There is a lot of paparazzi evidence of things that I wish I would not have worn but you live and you learn.
– [Interviewer] True words, Karlie.
– Hi ladies!
– [All] Hi, Karlie!
– [Interviewer] Hi, scholars.
– [Woman] Hi guy from 73 Questions.
– [Interviewer] So I’ve arrived at Kode with Klossy camp. How many years has this been going on?
– This is our third summer that we’ve run camps across the country.
– [Interviewer] Alright and how many scholars were there at Kode with Klossy camps this summer?
– We had a thousand brilliant young women in our classrooms.
– [Interviewer] Can you tell me a cool project that’s going on right now?
– A web app connecting young girls to programs and internships.
– There you go.
– [Interviewer] Impressive. Karlie, why coding? What drew you to coding in the first place?
– I was really curious about this mysterious language that was building the technology that touches my life.
– [Interviewer] Can you provide a layman’s definition of coding?
– At its core, it’s a language that builds that technology.
– [Interviewer] What does all that coding mean behind you?
– It is a problem waiting to be solved.
– [Interviewer] Can you solve it?
– Reina, want to help?
– [Interviewer] Karlie, how do you describe yourself?
– I’m a six-foot-two giraffe from the Lou.
– [Interviewer] And how do you think your scholars would describe you?
– [All] A boss.
– [Interviewer] A boss.
– Thank you. I’ll take it. Thanks guys.
– Oh, nice.
Perfect. Good job, Regina.
– [Interviewer] Karlie, you’ve been doing this for a while – great things are happening… what have some of your scholars gone on to achieve?
– Our girls are amazing and they’ve gone to win $50,000 hack-a-thon prizes and scholarships to study computer science at colleges all across the country. They’re building web apps, and apps that are helping change their communities and change the world.
– [Interviewer] Amazing. And this program is girls only?
– [Interviewer] Why girls only?
– Because there aren’t enough young women with access to learn these skills.
– [Interviewer] What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
– Work hard. Be humble. And always bring cookies.
– [Interviewer] What advice do you give all your scholars behind you right now?
– If you can dream it, you can build it.
– [Interviewer] Do you collect anything?
– Oh my gosh. I’m a bit of a hoarder, I kinda save everything in my life, but Anna Laura from my team collects sugar packets from every city we go to, which is a lot of cities.
– [Interviewer] Most prized possession. Go.
– Oh. My gram’s scarf she gave me that every time I wear it makes me think of her.
– [Interviewer] What’s something few people know about you?
– I am hyper-competitive, especially when it comes to board games.
– [Interviewer] When have you been most starstruck?
– When I met Michelle Obama.
– [Interviewer] What do people say when they’re star-struck by you?
– By me?
– [Interviewer] Uh-huh.
– They usually say, “Wow, you’re taller in real life.”
– [Interviewer] Now if you hadn’t picked up modeling, what would you have done with your life?
– I would have and still might become a doctor, I love kids. Or a kindergarten teacher.
– [Interviewer] Now who can you say is our role model from within the modeling world and beyond?
– Christy Turlington within the modeling world and Gloria Steinem.
– [Casey] Karlie!
– Just… she’s amazing.
– [Casey] Karlie, what are you doing?
– [Karlie] Hi, Casey!
– [Interviewer] Casey Neistat on a skateboard- classic.
– Casey’s here. Bye ladies.
– [Scholars] Bye Karlie.
– [Interviewer] What’s your first concert?
– Red Hot Chili Peppers.
– [Interviewer] Favorite book?
– The Alchemist.
– [Interviewer] Podcast that you’re currently into.
– How I Built This
– [Casey] Karlie, are you–
– 73 questions.
– Doin’ it, huh?
– [Interviewer] Hey Casey.
– [Karlie] You want to ask me a question?
– [Casey] Well, I’ve got kinda a personal question for you. About the wedding, I know you’re still early
in the planning and stuff. But the guest list, I want to know if I could bring all three kids? ’cause then I would need to bring a nanny.
– I’ll call you later.
– She’s gonna need to sit at the… maybe at the reception. She doesn’t need a dinner or anything.
– I’ll call you later. Give Candace my love.
– [Casey] Okay. Bye Kar.
– [Interviewer] How did you guys meet anyway?
– Casey opened my eyes to the world of YouTube and really helped me start my own YouTube channel.
– [Interviewer] But between you and Casey, how many videos do you think you’ve created?
– Oh my gosh. Too many to count.
– [Interviewer] By the way, I’m a big fan of your YouTube channel.
– Thank you.
– [Interviewer] Why did you start the Klossy channel anyway?
– I wanted to create videos and tell my story straight from me to the audience. Without any filters.
– [Interviewer] That’s how you do it these days. Karlie, how do you stay energized?
– Oh my gosh. A lot of coffee.
– [Interviewer] What’s a supermodel beauty secret that you’d be willing to share with me?
– Okay every supermodel knows that you need good light especially good natural light to take a good selfie, do your makeup, the works.
– [Interviewer] How has the modeling industry changed since you started?
– Oh my gosh, so many ways, but especially the rise of social media has really kind of democratized power within fashion.
– [Interviewer] What is social media’s effect on all of it?
– Social media really has kind of given everyone an opportunity to have a voice.
– [Interviewer] What’s the most positive aspect of modeling and fashion that you think is rarely acknowledged?
– I don’t think people realize how collaborative and creative the process really is.
– [Interviewer] If you had the ability to change something in this world, what would it be?
– I would wanna give equal access to education and opportunities to all girls and women around the world.
– [Interviewer] What does feminism mean to you?
– All of that and women really supporting one another.
– [Interviewer] Favorite thing you love to do with your friends?
– Go out and dance.
– [Interviewer] Best gals trip you’ve ever taken?
– My three sisters and I went to Europe for a month and had an epic adventure.
– [Interviewer] Who’s the fiercest and fearless of all your friends?
– My girl, Ashley Graham. No doubt.
– [Interviewer] Her 73 questions was amazing.
– Her 73 questions was amazing. Let me FaceTime her now.
– [Interviewer] Right now?
– [Interviewer] Alright. Cooking or baking?
– What are we talking about? Baking of course!
– [Interviewer] Salty or sweet?
– Oh don’t make me. Don’t make me choose.
– [Interviewer] If you could make a cameo on anything, what would it be?
– Mmm, James Bond. I love Money Penny.
– [Interviewer] Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Ashley Graham.
– Hi Ash.
– Hey, Karlie.
– This is my 73 questions. Do you wanna ask me a question?
– Of course I do!
What’s your favorite cocktail?
– Mint mojito.
– Love a mint mojito!
– Thanks, Ash. I’ll call you later.
– [Interviewer] Karlie, what is your must-have beauty product?
– Oh, Estee Lauder advance night repair serum. It’s the best.
– [Interviewer] What’s your favorite lip color?
– Any shade of red.
– [Interviewer] Now you grew up doing ballet. How often are you dancing these days?
– Not as often as I like, but I love ballet and feel like it never leaves you.
– [Interviewer] Okay, show how me a move.
– Oh, sure.
– Rondue, plié, relevé,
Du, du, du, du, da, da, da.
– [Interviewer] Not bad.
– Da, da.
– Still got those moves. Now Karlie, you have a crystal ball- where are you in ten years?
– I want to be surrounded by loved ones and working hard and being challenged and fulfilled by whatever it is I’m doing.
– [Interviewer] And the last question I have for you
Karlie – before you go – hey, um, that scholar, with that idea like uh, is she gonna take an investor for that idea? Is she gonna take an early round of funding?
– How much money are you willing to invest?
– [Interviewer] 50 grand.
– How much equity you want?
– [Interviewer] 20%.
– Five percent.
– [Interviewer] 10%.
– Five percent.
– [Interviewer] Seven percent.
– Five percent.
– [Interviewer] You drive a hard bargain, Kloss.
– I’ll have her people call your people.
– [Interviewer] Deal.
Thanks, bye-bye! – Bye Joe!
Fashion editors and stylists serve as curators for the styling of a photoshoot, highlighting the best pieces and trends of each season, as well as trendsetters, highlighting the latest trends to be showcased in each issue.
In addition to selecting and styling clothing, editors must be excellent writers and artistic, responsible for organizing the layout, colors, and page count of a magazine before print.
Traditional public relations such as press releases, interviews, and press events can still create buzz and value for a designer or brand. But social media has dramatically changed the way information and news spread.
Public relations incorporates earned, owned, social, and paid media, all four of which are critical for fashion brands and designer houses to utilize to establish their brand and showcase clothing. Whereas owned and social are created organically by the brand, earned is generated from third-party sources such as news outlets and journalists. Paid media is sponsored advertising on digital mediums to direct consumers to the brand to make a purchase.
Public relations professionals in the fashion industry pitch news about a brand to reporters, organize media interviews and appearances for fashion designers, and track when merchandise is featured in magazines and on fashion blogs. Public relations support can also be outsourced to public relations agencies, where the agency manages and consults with several clients in the fashion and similar industries.
Designer Donna Karan New York had an anonymous Twitter account created called “DKNY PR Girl”. Run by a communications employee, the DKNY PR Girl became synonymous with the famous New York brand known for bold colors and prints.
The Twitter account added to the already sassy and mysterious brand established by DKNY, providing free publicity in the era of emerging social media use among the fashion industry. The Twitter account boasted having the “inside look” into the brand and industry, which was a much faster and easier way to share news and information than a press release.
User-generated content (UGC) through the popularity of social media has allowed brands to leverage organically created photos and videos of brand fans and regular consumers. Influencers create styling videos showcasing pieces of a brand, mixing a look with other pieces to reflect their personal style. UGC is often promoted and shared by fashion houses and brands.
Social impact and purpose have also been woven into the fabric of many fashion brands. For example, Abercrombie & Fitch, the classic preppy brand of the early 2000s, rebranded itself as an inclusive and diverse fashion brand for all types of consumers and body types. The company also commits itself to supporting and facilitating important conversations around issues of diversity, equity, human, and LGBTQIA+ rights.
Begin Your Fashion Career Today
Breaking into the fashion industry can be challenging without the right experience and higher education.
Enter the fashion industry with Lindenwood University’s online Bachelor of Science in Fashion Business and Entrepreneurship and Master of Science in Fashion Business programs. Both programs teach you principles and concepts in fashion design and business, allowing you to develop the skills to own your own business in the industry.
Lindenwood is ranked No. 29 by Intelligent.com‘s Best Online Colleges and Universities Nationally and ranked No. 17 on the Best Value Colleges in Missouri list by Niche.com. The online MS in Fashion Business and Entrepreneurship is considered one of the Best Online Masters in Business Degrees by onlineschoolsreport.com.
When you earn your fashion business degree online, you will gain practical, real-world knowledge that will help you thrive as an entrepreneur. Explore topics that include fashion marketing, fashion design, the history of costume, and pricing strategy.
Our online fashion entrepreneurship degree program also offers opportunities to visit fashion capitals around the world. You will also be able to participate in Lindenwood’s Fashion Design and Business Advisory Council, which is an opportunity to do mock interviews, network, and gain industry insight with regional fashion-related businesses and professionals.
- Understand the history of the fashion industry and how it applies to fashion businesses and careers.
- Effectively develop a business plan and marketing strategy for a fashion business using industry trends and research.
- Demonstrate knowledge in the commercial and professional aspects of fashion, such as the analysis of merchandising and marketing.
Named one of the most affordable online colleges in 2019, learn more about how you can make a statement and an impact in the ever-changing fashion industry at Lindenwood University.