Fashion Careers

Careers in the Fashion Industry - The Different Roles

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16th September 2022

Worth over £1.2 trillion, fashion is a global industry. Whilst there are many different roles and opportunities, it can still feel like a difficult industry to break into. 

You may have always dreamed of working in the fashion industry, but aren’t sure which role would suit you. We’ve broken down some of the many different careers available to help you get started in the fashion industry!

Careers in the Fashion Industry

When people say a ‘career in fashion’, many people immediately think of fashion designers and models. There are actually hundreds of different roles out there to suit a range of skills, qualifications and interests. Whilst some roles are more specific to the fashion industry, there are more general roles in which you can specialise in fashion. 

Browse our list of 18 careers for a brief overview of the role, key skills and qualifications you need to succeed.

Fashion Designer

One of the most famous and sought-after fashion careers, fashion designers are responsible for creating new garment and accessory designs. Often employed by luxury fashion houses and high street retailers, the role of a fashion designer is highly creative. Fashion designers must understand past and present trends, whilst being able to identify, predict and even create future trends.


Fashion designers should have an in-depth knowledge of references, other designers and the entire industry. As a designer, you'll have to collaborate with marketing and forecasting teams to create collections. You'll have the option to specialise in a range of areas including womenswear, menswear, suiting and lingerie. You could work for a high street brand, ready-to-wear design houses or in haute couture. You could even start your own fashion business.

In order to become a fashion designer, you'll usually need a degree. Prepare yourself for an undergraduate course in fashion design with our Level 3 Fashion Design diploma.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity and idea generation
  • Technical skills (pattern cutting, sewing etc.)
  • An understanding of fabric and colour theory

Find out more about fashion design careers

Fashion Buyer

Fashion retail buyers are responsible for selecting items to sell in-store and online. As a retail buyer for fashion stores or departments, you'll be in charge of choosing clothes and accessories that match current and upcoming trends. You'll work with fashion forecasters, marketers and visual merchandisers and would most likely be employed by a retail brand or eCommerce site.

As part of the role, you'll visit manufacturers to select pieces. You may also need to attend fashion shows and work with fashion influencers to identify new and emerging trends. In addition to selecting aesthetically pleasing pieces, you will need to consider factors such as price, quantities, quality and demand.

Qualifications such as our undergraduate BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising degree, our Level 4 Buying diploma and online Buying and Merchandising course are a great place to start your fashion buying career.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Numerical and analysis skills
  • Negotiation
  • Attention to detail and a good eye for trends

Find out more about careers in fashion buying

Retail Manager

Retail managers are responsible for the management of physical stores, working on the shop floor and overseeing the day-to-day running of a store. One of their key responsibilities is to make sure customers are provided with a good in-store experience in order to maximise sales. Retail managers are tasked with improving the efficiency of their staff and making sure their store meets brand standards. 

Whilst some people may work their way up to retail management, our Level 3 Fashion Retail diploma can help you to develop the key skills you need to land your dream career.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Leadership
  • Customer service
  • Prioritisation and the ability to work under pressure

Fashion Merchandiser

Fashion merchandisers work closely with buyers to make sure the correct items and quantities of products are sent to the right locations. Customer demand for certain styles or products may be different depending on the location or store medium (physical stores vs online). It's a fashion merchandiser's job to forecast and monitor sales in order to keep up with demand.

Fashion merchandisers are also involved with planning sales and promotions. Usually employed directly by retailers, some brands combine buying and merchandising roles. For those looking to specialise in merchandising only, our Level 4 Fashion Merchandising course is the ideal choice.

We also offer a BA (Hons) Buying & Merchandising degree, a Level 4 Buying diploma and an online Buying & Merchandising course for those who may want to study both roles.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Analytical and numerical skills
  • Decision making
  • Commercial and business acumen

Find out more about careers in fashion merchandising

Visual Merchandiser

Not to be confused with Fashion Merchandising, a visual merchandiser is responsible for creating visual concepts to promote a brand. In the fashion industry, this may include designing store layouts, window displays, mannequin styling and more. The role of visual merchandising is to encourage customers into stores and maximise sales.

Visual merchandisers collaborate closely with marketing departments and may also work alongside trend forecasters to inform upcoming displays. They're usually employed by retailers, but some visual merchandisers work on a consultancy or freelance basis. 

You won't need specific qualifications for most visual merchandising roles, but experience is key. Our Level 4 Visual Merchandising for Fashion course can help you to gain the fundamental knowledge and experience you need to stand out to hiring managers.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Eye for detail
  • Keen interest in current and future trends

Find out more about careers in visual merchandising

Fashion Marketer

Fashion marketers are responsible for maximising sales, building brand awareness and positioning brands in customers' minds. As a fashion marketer, you'd plan and implement marketing campaigns. This could take the form of planning events and shows, writing email campaigns, designing store points of sale or creating social media content. You'll also constantly analyse your campaigns while they're live and once they've finished, assessing their effectiveness and refining future campaigns.

You'll work with many different departments and roles to make sure your brand messaging is consistent across the business. You may work directly for a brand or you could be employed by an external agency. 

To become a fashion marketer, you'll need a degree in marketing or a related area. Our BA (Hons) Marketing & Communications for Fashion degree is the ideal choice to prepare you for a career in fashion marketing. We also offer Level 4 Diplomas in Digital Marketing for Fashion and Fashion Retail (with Marketing)

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Data analysis
  • Communication

Find out more about careers in fashion marketing

PR & Communications Officer

PR & Communications Officers are entrusted with crafting the public image surrounding brands. They work to boost positive marketing messages whilst minimising negative press to build a good brand reputation. PR & Communications Officers often work within the marketing department, working closely with external sources to gain third-party endorsements.

Many of those working in PR for fashion will have a relevant degree in public relations, fashion communication and/or marketing.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • The ability to cope under pressure

Find out more about fashion PR careers

Social Media Manager

Whilst social media may be part of a general marketing manager's job, dedicated social media management roles are becoming increasingly common in larger brands. Social media is one of the key ways that fashion brands promote collections and build brand awareness. 

As a social media manager, you'll plan social media strategies for platforms, including Instagram and TikTok. You'll work with influencers to engage users, carrying out analysis to determine which kinds of content and social platforms work best for your brand. Most commonly, social media managers work in-house for retailers and fashion houses. 

Qualifications for the role are not essential, however, courses such as our Level 4 Digital Marketing diploma can help you to learn the fundamental skills you need. The ability to showcase your skills by building your personal brand through social media could be a great way to stand out!

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • An eye for social media and fashion trends

Event Manager

Events are a significant part of the fashion industry, from runway shows and afterparties to product launches and press events. As a fashion event manager, you'll be responsible for the planning, execution and smooth running of these events. Responsibilities may include finding appropriate venues, arranging catering and entertainment, planning guest lists and publicising the event. 

Although specific qualifications are not required for fashion event management, experience in hospitality and event management would be beneficial.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Organisation
  • Negotiation
  • Problem-solving

Trend Forecaster

Trend forecasters identify new and emerging trends. From colours and patterns to silhouettes and brands, trend forecasters are always on the lookout for the next big thing. 

Fashion retailers depend on trend forecasters to plan upcoming collections to ensure they meet demand. As a trend forecaster, you'll know how to understand and interpret consumer behaviours and wants. You'll need to look at external factors and determine how these could influence current and future trends.

Trend forecasters don’t only look for future trends. They also identify which trends are likely to fall out of fashion and which markets certain trends will appeal to. As a trend forecaster, you'll usually be based at a retailer or with an agency. A qualification in data analysis could help you stand out from the crowd; our online course in Data Analytics for Retail could be the perfect first step.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Analytical and numerical skills
  • In-depth knowledge of trends and the industry as a whole
  • Strong observation skills

Stylist

Stylists put together visually appealing outfits for photoshoots, fashion shows, magazine spreads and events. Fashion stylists put together outfits with the purpose of increasing brand awareness and maximising sales; they're usually employed by retailers, fashion houses and agencies. Alternatively, personal stylists are usually responsible for dressing individuals for events.

To become a stylist, experience is usually preferred. Qualifications in design and fashion-related degrees can also be useful, like our Level 3 Visual Communications & Styling diploma.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Design knowledge
  • Attention to detail

Find out more about fashion styling careers

Textile Designer

Textile designers create 2D designs to be used on fabrics, often repeat patterns. Textile designers should have an in-depth knowledge of the production of textiles including embroidery, weaving, dyeing and printing methods. Textile designers will also need a strong understanding of the different kinds of fabrics used in garment creation to understand how textile designs will interact with the features of the fabric. 

Many textile designers work on a freelance basis whilst others are employed in-house for fashion brands. Many fashion houses will want bespoke prints for their garments. In order to become a textile designer, you will need qualifications in fashion, textiles or design.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Eye for colour and detail
  • An understanding of fabrics and trends

Garment Technologist

Garment technologists play a crucial role in the fashion industry. They choose and test fabrics to make sure their suitability for clothing. They also make sure fabrics fit a brand's set budget, oversee construction methods, identify faults and carry out quality control checks.

Employed by manufacturers and textile producers, garment technologists work closely with designers to help bring their ideas to life. You'll need a qualification in a relevant subject: our Level 4 Garment Technology diploma course is the ideal starting point.

Key skills you'll need:

  • In-depth knowledge of textiles and construction methods
  • Methodical working approach
  • Attention to detail

Find out more about garment technology careers

Fashion Illustrator

Fashion illustrators create conceptual sketches and illustrations of designs. These illustrations are used in a variety of ways from conceptualising new designs, for print and media and to promote new styles or collections.

They work closely with designers and may hand draw, paint or use Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs. They are often self-employed or employed by external design studios. In order to become a fashion illustrator, you'll mostly likely need a qualification in graphic design or illustration. 

Key skills you'll need:

  • Artistic and creative
  • Attention to detail
  • Technical skills (CAD etc.)

Pattern Cutter

When creating a garment, patterns are used to ensure accuracy and consistency. Pattern cutters create patterns for garments based on drawings, working closely with designers and garment technologists to replicate shapes and silhouettes. 

Pattern cutters use mannequins to create and refine patterns, often creating multiple iterations until perfection is achieved. This is an essential role in the fashion industry as it allows samples to be created, as well as allowing designs to be duplicated and created in numerous sizes.

Pattern cutters predominantly work in-house at fashion brands. Although a specific degree is not required, employers usually prefer candidates with qualifications in fashion design or pattern cutting. 

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Design knowledge and practical skills
  • Attention to detail

Fashion Writer

Fashion is one of the world’s leading industries. With such a global reach, fashion writers cover everything from new and fading trends to fashion shows, new collections and celebrity fashion moments. Writing for newspapers, magazines, websites and even social media, as a fashion writer, you could be employed by glossy magazines such as Vogue, daily newspapers and even retail magazines.

To become a fashion writer, experience is generally more important than qualifications, however, a degree in fashion communications or journalism would be beneficial. To gain experience, you could apply for internships or even create your own fashion blog!

Key skills you'll need:

  • Writing
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Research skills

Graphic Designer

Whilst graphic design is not unique to the fashion industry, the fashion industry does heavily rely on graphic designers to create brand assets and imagery. Working for a fashion brand, either in-house or through an external agency, you'll create content such as lookbooks, packaging, magazine spreads, marketing materials, social media graphics and websites.

Graphic designers work closely with marketing teams to make sure graphics meet brand guidelines and communicate the right message to consumers. To become a graphic designer, you'll likely need a graphic design degree, as well as a portfolio of work to display your talents.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Creativity
  • Technical skills (usually Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop)
  • Attention to detail

ECommerce Manager

Every day, more and more people are shopping online. Increasing numbers of fashion brands choose to only sell online, and their online stores are an extension of their brand. As an eCommerce manager, you'll be responsible for the customer’s online shopping experience, putting together strategies to help attract and convert customers.

Working closely with marketing, PR, SEO and merchandising teams, you'll identify and capitalise on new opportunities to maximise sales and profit. Employers generally prefer qualifications in digital marketing, such as our Level 4 Digital Marketing for Fashion diploma.

Key skills you'll need:

  • Data analysis
  • Decision making
  • Interpersonal skills

Tips for Pursuing a Career in the Fashion Industry

With so many different roles on offer, there's no set route into the fashion industry. However, there're a few things you can do to improve your chances and land your dream job in fashion!

Work Experience

For an employer, there's nothing more valuable than hands-on, real-world experience. Completing work experience in a fashion-related role will expose you to the inner workings of the industry, allowing you to build fundamental skills. Not only does work experience help you to appeal to potential employers, but it can allow you to test out different roles and decide which area of fashion is right for you! 

To find work experience in the fashion industry, you need to be proactive. Even work experience placements can be competitive. Contact fashion brands, retailers and design studios directly to discuss opportunities. 

You could also complete work experience as part of your course. We offer three-week work placements on many of our fashion courses, allowing you to put your knowledge and skills into practice, preparing you for further study or an entry-level role in fashion.

Study a Fashion-Related Course

One of the best ways you can prepare for a career in the fashion industry is to study it!

There are many fashion courses out there in subjects from fashion design to fashion marketing. If you’re not sure what role you want to go into, choose a more general course that offers transferable skills like our Level 4 Fashion Retail (with Marketing) diploma. If you know exactly which area of fashion you’d like to specialise in, study a course that covers your particular area of interest.

Studying a fashion course develops your knowledge and skills in an area, but it often gives you the opportunity to build connections within the industry. Many of our fashion courses include a three-week work placement opportunity, as well as industry projects from live clients, allowing you to build your network before joining the fashion industry.

Do Your Research

Before applying for a role or course, do your research! Look at the different aspects of each job and decide what suits you. Whittle down your options and target only the opportunities that really interest you.

Not only is it important to learn about the role you want to apply for, but it’s important to research the industry and the company itself. Employers will always be impressed if you have a good understanding of the environment in which they operate. 

Fashion can be an extremely competitive industry so showcasing your knowledge can help you to stand out.

Typical Employers

When you imagine yourself working in the fashion industry, you may think about famous institutions such as Vogue and Prada. The truth is, there are thousands of businesses working in the fashion industry, some well-known and others behind the scenes. 

Finding a role in the fashion industry means you could be working at:

Fashion Houses

Working at a fashion house is one of the more traditional but most competitive routes into the fashion industry. Roles will be in-house, usually working for luxury brands. Large fashion houses will have many different departments from design and creation to marketing, PR and finance. 

Roles within a fashion house are some of the most sought after in the world. Many brands often offer internships that can help you to gain valuable experience to help you land that dream role!

High Street Brands

High street brands make up a huge portion of the fashion industry. They take inspiration from fashion houses to create ready-to-wear lines at more affordable prices. Many high street brands will have their own team of designers, as well as marketing departments, buyers, merchandisers and more.

Supermarket Clothing Labels

One of the more overlooked areas of the fashion industry, but most supermarkets have their own clothing ranges. This can be a great route into the fashion industry allowing you to gain experience in the design, marketing and retail process. Supermarket brands tend to be huge organisations with whole areas of the businesses dedicated to their clothing lines. 

Agencies

You don’t necessarily have to work in-house in order to work in the fashion industry. Many fashion brands heavily rely on agencies for a range of services including illustration, marketing, trend forecasting and even design work. Whilst general agencies may work with some fashion brands, there are dedicated agencies that specialise in the fashion and lifestyle sector. 

Working at an agency can have many advantages. You'll gain experience across a wide range of projects and briefs, working with different brands to build your knowledge base and develop your skills.

Manufacturers

Whilst luxury fashion brands may have their own ateliers, most fashion brands work with external manufacturers to mass produce designs. Working on the manufacturer side, you'll work closely with a range of different brands helping to bring their designs to life. Manufacturers often employ textile designers, garment technologists and even designers to aid the production process.

At the Fashion Retail Academy, you can take your first step to a career in fashion! 

We'll give you the experience and skills you need to stand out in a competitive job market. Working with over 140 brands and retail partners, you can work on real-life projects whilst building your professional network.

Browse our courses or apply today!

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