Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Want That Job! by Ruth Harrison Roberts

5 days, 62 catwalk shows, 20 presentations, 110 designers at Exhibition & 200,000 Twitter followers! That’s what London Fashion Week had to offer its designers. So just how do you get over to the UK and get yourself noticed as a designer? Here are some essentials to help you get started:
Brush Up Your Skills:  Grab a pad of paper and some pencils (Karl Lagerfeld famously only uses Shu Uemura eye pencils to sketch his designs although a simple 2B and 4B pencil will do to begin with). Sketch some designs that you would want to actually create. Don’t copy somebody else’s designs because they are trendy, create a portfolio of designs. Find your style – there is no point trying to create something that you don’t really like. Be one step ahead and think to next season, don’t forget to be adventurous; Future employers will love to see that you have used your imagination.

Start Sewing:  You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive fabrics to make your designs come to life. Charity shops are a goldmine when it comes to spare pieces of material. Even grab and some old and customise them yourself – that’s the current trend. You also don’t have to have an industrial sewing machine to reel off your designs.  Lookout for second-hand ones from charity shops, online auction sites or even ask to borrow one.

Be A Jack Of All Trades:  It will help if you know a little about a lot. Learn about CAD (Computer Aided Design) you can buy older versions of this fairly cheaply if you shop around online (it doesn’t have to be the latest version, just something to get you started) different techniques and different areas of fashion design. This will help future employers see that you are taking the business seriously. It will also help if you have a head for business. Obviously they aren’t looking for somebody who can project company profit for the next five years or set up the business on a global ecommerce network but to show that you can work cost effectively and produce striking results, within a budget, will only shine favourably on you.  

Make The Right Connections: Get networking! This is vital in most careers today you’ve heard the saying, ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’, well there is an element of truth in that. Offer your skills in an internship or a free work-placement, there are a number of good networking sites like Fashion Capital and The Fashion Network who offer advice and members’ forums as well as jobs and internship boards. These sites are invaluable when it comes to making solid connections.

Choose The Right Course:  Should you wish to travel down the Further or Higher Education route take a look at what courses are on offer and most importantly, choose the right course for you. If you are interested in millinery, don’t take a design course. Be brave with your choices and think about finding a niche, for example in the UK, there are hundreds of budding designers for women swear but there aren’t many sportswear or menswear designers. It doesn’t have to be as intensive as a degree course, do something as simple as an evening course at the local community hall; it looks good on your C.V. if you can show a willingness to learn. Be warned though, some companies will require you to hold a degree or the equivalent skills and experience for certain posts. If you are interested in a certain area, it is worth checking out what you will need.

Be Realistic: Flashlights, front row celebrities and life in the luxury lane. That’s what it means to be a fashion designer right? Wrong! The British Fashion Council predicts that a young designer just starting out can expect to earn between £14,000 and £16,000. It takes time, skill and hard work to graduate up to designer level in a business. Many start out as studio assistants, or get a permanent job from an internship. Don’t be big headed, nobody likes a show-off! Show you are willing to learn and show initiative as well as bags of passion and you will be well on your way!
And Finally: All there is to do now is to  get that portfolio up and running and never forget the power that sites like Twitter Facebook, Pinterest and Etsy can have for your designs. If you do create some stunning clothing, why not have a go at selling them on sites like ebay or ASOSmarketplace?
The most important thing of all is to have fun!
Ruth Harrison Roberts is a writer for online clothing store She always supports new design talent and will blog about them ‘til the cows come home!

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