Fashion jobs: finding the perfect fit

Strut your stuff

If you have an eye for style, a passion for design and enjoy pushing the boundaries of your creativity, you might want to apply to one of the many fashion jobs, on and off the runway.

The next wave of fashion professionals are surfacing all across the country — you could be among them.

The opportunities in fashion are multi-faceted, with a number of routes a fashion design career can take. The range is impressive. There’s:

  • Pattern making.
  • Business and marketing.
  • Graphic design and branding.
  • Fashion buying.
  • Retail management.
  • Costume research for theatre and film.
  • Costume production.
  • Visual merchandising.
  • Fashion design.

Fashion up-and-comers are working for some of Canada’s biggest companies, such as the Hudson’s Bay Company, Roots, Lululemon, Aritzia, Canada Goose, Herschel Supply Co. and MATT & NAT.

Designers like Sid Neigum, Christopher Bates and Malorie Urbanovitch are shaping the industry now.

It doesn’t matter which area of fashion you’re considering, there’s always room for fresh talent. The nation’s largest cultural hubs — Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto — are waiting with open arms.

Related: How to build a portfolio website in 7 steps

4 fashion jobs (and what it takes to land them)

The fashion industry can seem remote from real life. But even Hayley Elsaesser started by selling her work on eBay. Here are four ways into this exciting industry.

  1. Fashion designer.
  2. Retail buyer.
  3. Fashion stylist.
  4. Marketing specialist.

Let’s find out more about each of these fashion industry jobs — including the skills you’ll need and where to learn them.

Your fashion career starts here

Fashion Jobs Mannequins in Store Window
The fashion industry needs everything from designers to window dressers.

Here’s a look at four fashion jobs, the skills employers are looking for and the postsecondary programs that will help set you up for success.

1. Fashion designer

One of the many skills fashion designers have is seeing the big picture. They identify trends and are always innovating. This is why the walls of their workspaces are often inspirational mood boards.

Designers are always thinking about what’s next.

 

Proactive problem solvers, they also know their materials and can visualize what fabric will work best for a particular design or garment.

Attributes

  • Vision
  • Strong communication skills
  • Leadership
  • A competitive streak

Technology skills

  • Get friendly with Adobe Creative Suite. From PhotoShop to Illustrator, you’ll use it all. There’s also CorelDRAW.
  • Become proficient in computer-aided design (CAD).

Where to study

Material Art & Design, OCAD University
Bachelor of Design (BDes) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

  • The first year of this four-year program incorporates art and design history with 3D design, fabrication and digital modeling, as well as colour and 2D design. Students can branch into textile, jewelry or metalsmithing specializations.
  • Academic requirements.
  • Tuition and fees.

Sustainable design

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact fashion can have, you might want to consider the Fashion Design and Sustainable Production program at Lethbridge College. This two-year diploma integrates sustainability with business, while narrowing in on niche markets. It also prepares students for fashion design careers as:

  • Trend and colour specialists.
  • Sample room technicians.
  • Visual merchandisers.

George Brown College’s Sustainable Fashion Production post-graduate certificate program weaves sustainability into the pre-production and manufacturing processes.

2. Retail buyer

Fashion Jobs Retail Floor
Buyers determine what products get to store shelves, in catalogues and online.

When you’re walking through a large department store, do you look around and wonder how every piece of clothing found its way into the store? The answer is retail buyers. They work through the buying cycle, create computerized spreadsheets and manage key processes.

Attributes

  • A keen eye
  • Forward-thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Strong negotiator

Where to study

Retail Buying Certificate, George Brown College
Certificate, Continuing Education

  • This certificate is comprised of five online compulsory courses such as retail buying, fashion importing and fashion product development.
  • Per-course fees

3. Fashion stylist

It’s not uncommon to find the words “go-getter” or “self-motivated” associated with fashion industry jobs. It’s a highly competitive industry that’s always transitioning.

Every fashion magazine you pick up, be it Glow, Flare or Elle Canada, displays the work of a stylist.

For a behind-the-scenes job, it’s extremely intimate and personal. Fashion stylists curate the look for their clients — often a model or a celebrity. They stay true to the client’s tastes, preferences and sensibilities, all while making a memorable statement that will draw positive attention.

Attributes

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Organization
  • A wide range of knowledge – from fashion design history to trend spotting

Where to study

Fashion Coordination and Styling, Ryerson University
Certificate, The Chang School of Continuing Education

  • This certificate program is comprised of eight courses, which teach students how to create an image, as well as design fundamentals in fashion, styling and coordination.
  • Ryerson offers an intensive version of this program, where students can complete it in 13 weeks.
  • Academic requirements
  • Course fees

Stylists, along with costumers, designers and pattern makers typically use digital portfolios to show off their skills. With an easy tool like GoDaddy Website Builder you simply upload high-resolution photos of your work, then add relevant details about your training and experience.

4. Marketing specialist

Fashion Jobs Marketer
Marketers create ad campaigns for clothing companies, boutiques and outlets.

Creating a design is one challenge. Bringing awareness to the company and championing the brand is another.

When you see a Canada Goose jacket, you know it’s a Canada Goose jacket. It’s instantly identifiable. Chances are, you might even feel something for the company because you have a deeper connection to it. That’s solid marketing and branding.

Attributes

  • Confident
  • Flexible
  • Creative
  • Strategic and responsive

Where to study

Marketing and Merchandising for Fashion, Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver
Diploma

  • This program can be completed in five 12-week terms.
  • Areas of focus include target marketing, understanding the buyer’s journey, market segmentation, effective sales strategies, meeting ROI and cost management.
  • Related fashion careers consist of event promotions, fashion writer, publicist and digital content specialist.
  • Admission requirements
  • Contact the school for tuition fees

Each area of fashion expertise is rich with potential and the post-secondary programs listed above will give you a strong foundation for success.

One of the perks of attending a university or college is the networking opportunities.

You never know who you’ll meet in a class or what lecturer will expand your line of thinking. All of a sudden, you’re wondering how you can create low-impact, sustainable tech apparel. Or, you’re working in marketing for a big corporation that’s looking to shrink its environmental footprint through biodegradable packaging.

Set your sights on the fashion industry

Fashion is an industry that challenges norms and solves problems. Design, in general, shapes the way we think, experience and understand the world around us. With a fashion job, you have the ability to change the world. What will your contribution be?