Everything you need to know to grow a career in fashion.
Over the holiday season, we’re taking a break too. Over this period, we’ll be resharing our favourite content of the year (and your favourite too – it’s our most well-read). This article was originally published on March 24.
Do you ever find yourself coming across job titles with no idea what they are? Or find yourself stalking people on LinkedIn and trying to decipher what it is they actually do? Well, same.
If you haven’t already noticed, the diversity of jobs available in the fashion industry is rapidly expanding, opening up a whole new world of occupations to consider. It’s brilliant we have so many options but it can be extremely difficult to unpack what each of them entails – let alone thinking about salary, experience and where to find them.
Looking for jobs in the fashion industry? Head to our Careers section to see who’s hiring.
So, to help you with your job seeking we have created a guide for job titles in the fashion industry – including all the ones you didn’t know plus the ones you need to know.
Imagine being the one who decides whether it will be cheetah or zebra print this year. As a trend forecaster, you don’t quite get the power to decide but you are responsible for identifying new trends and predicting how those trends will shape consumer purchases. But it’s not all fun and games. The majority of the job revolves around data, statistics and researching socio-economic factors.
Potential salary range: $70,000-$120,0000+
Experience: You will need ample experience in the fashion industry. Experience with product development, marketing, merchandising, retail or designing would all serve you well in this job. An impressive portfolio is a must, too. Like many fashion jobs, a good place to start is retail, where you can hone your understanding of how trends play out on the shop floor. Having a sound understanding of fashion history will serve you well, too, so keep flicking through magazines, reading biographies and poring over old fashion shows, as well as keeping across industry updates.
Where to apply: If your future involves relocating to the big cities (New York City, Dubai or London) and you’re up-to-date with industry movements, then this could be the role for you. Unfortunately, most roles for trend forecasters are located overseas – have a look at WGSN (the top company for fashion forecasting) if you’d like to learn more.
A creative director is responsible for leading the conception, design and execution of everything creative a brand puts out. You’ve got to be a natural leader and an ideas machine, as you’re responsible for inspiring and directing the rest of the team as well as being innovative and, obviously, creative.
Potential salary range: $60,000-$130,000+
Experience: You will need a lot of experience in design directing or working in a design studio, excellent managerial skills and an extensive portfolio. In the meantime, undertaking a fashion design degree and working on your own creative side-projects to beef up your portfolio would be smart. Or, if you’re a real go-getter, you could always start your own label.
Where to apply: As there is usually only one per company (and you’re basically the brain behind the brand’s aesthetics), these roles don’t often pop up. Networking and immersing yourself in your local fashion scene will be a good way to keep tabs on any roles that are going.
An acronym for Customer Relationship Manager, a CRM is charged with knowing a brand’s customers’ needs, wishes and dreams, often before they do. Working in all the consumer-centric fields, you’ll dip a toe into marketing, campaigns, customer service and PR to ensure the brand is well received by customers.
Potential salary range:$60,000-$100,000+
Experience: You will need at least three to four years of management and customer service experience, and a relevant degree (such as in marketing or communications) is always helpful. If you’re just starting out, getting a job in retail and working your way up – from retail assistant to store manager to working in the head office – is a great idea. Plus, the customer service skills you’ll hone while in retail will be highly regarded in a CRM role.
Where to apply: There are quite a few of these roles floating around, especially in Australia. You’re likely to find them in bigger companies and businesses with a strong online presence.
As the name suggests, buyers are in charge of sourcing and purchasing stock before the next fashion season begins. This includes negotiating with suppliers on prices and delivery, so having strong peopls skills is a plus. You have to be across upcoming consumer trends and have an intuitive understanding of the classic pieces which always sell for your particular brand or company. The only other requirement is you must be a passionate shopper and a good decision-maker, though I’m still not sure how these two go together.
Potential salary range: $50,000-$110,000+
Experience: You will need a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising and/or two to five years of related merchandising experience, depending on the level of the role. Having sound knowledge of the newest brands and trends would also be a plus. Starting out in fashion retail is also a great idea, particularly if it’s for a company or brand you’d like to eventually be a buyer for. The more in-tune you are with what customers are buying, the better.
Where to apply: Every big fashion house has one but in Australia, you’ll find most of these jobs in department stores like David Jones and Myer, or boutiques stocking multiple brands.
This role tightens the lens on a more technical side of textiles and testing – think Lululemon Luxtreme and UNIQLO HeatTech. You’ll be responsible for fabric design and development, including researching new textile concepts (like this fabric made from mushrooms) and reviewing proposals for production. A fabric researcher works closely alongside the design team, so you’ll need to know your materials and adapt quickly to any major production faults and sudden design changes.
Potential salary range: $70,000-$100,000+
Experience: You will need a fashion design or textile design degree, or four to five years of hands-on experience in the textile industry. Experience with printing, finishing and washing techniques and extensive material knowledge is also a must. Don’t be afraid of heading to Spotlight and purchase a bunch of fabrics to conduct your own experiments at home – this will give you an idea of whether this kind of work piques your interest, and is a good way to start understanding the differences between textiles and how they wear.
Where to apply: This job is more common across the industry than you might think, but keep an open mind. Local brands that call on fabric researchers include Sheridan and Bonds, which I guess is unsurprising, bedding and underwear fabrics are perhaps the most important at all.
A merchandise planner or merchandise allocator is responsible for buying merchandise based on a brand’s sales history and current stock levels. You’ll be chaarged with planning the long-term buying strategy and negotiating price structures, as well as delivery dates, specific merchandise requirements and contracts. You’ll also be responsible for ensuring that products appear in the right stores in the right quantities at the right time (it’s all about organisation and structure). This job requires a lot of forecasting and monitoring of sales. You’ll be a wizard with numbers and a fast thinker as deadlines and turnarounds are tight.
Potential salary range: $60,000-$90,000+
Experience: Hiring managers tend to look for a degree in marketing, business or fashion, or at least two years of retail experience with merchandising. Strong analytical and tech skills are also expected. If you’re just starting out, getting retail management and visual merchandising experience is a great idea.
Where to apply: In Australia, these jobs pop up fairly frequently and can be found at high-end independent retailers or big brand umbrellas such as the Just Group and Country Road.
As we all grow increasingly wary of the harm the fashion industry is causing to our environment, the role of a sustainability officer has emerged. In this role, you will be responsible for the development, implementation, promotion and monitoring of environmental strategies within the company, and need to make recommendations to avoid or lessen negative environmental impacts. Yep, you’ll be calling the shots and making the important decisions that could change the future of the industry. Working at the top of the company, you will be expected to write reports, pitch ideas and identify opportunities for change.
Potential salary range: $60,000-$130,000+
Experience: You must have a degree in either sustainability, environmental science or environmental management, plus industry knowledge of market developments. Company-specific knowledge is also necessary, and most likely prior experience in the sustainable fashion sector. It is a highly specialised role, so keep learning and gaining experience in the sustainable fashion space if you’re intrigued by this job.
Where to apply: You can expect to see more and more of these roles popping up over the next few years. Big Australian retailers like David Jones, Country Road Group and The Iconic – whose sustainability officer we interviewed here – all have them. Of course, there are far more of these roles available in Europe and the US.
The rise of second-hand designer fashion websites has opened up new career opportunities for luxury lovers. Imagine ordering (plus spending a fortune on) a vintage Chanel bag only to receive a fake – I can’t think about this kind of devastation and neither should you. Thankfully, most resale sites now retain authenticity experts who are trained to ensure any claimed designer products are the real deal. Luxury brands in particular plant brand identifiers (holograms, date codes, authenticity cards and hallmarks) that these experts know to look for, plus they have a sharp eye for evaluating quality of materials and construction.
Potential salary range: $50,000-$70,000+
Experience: There are currently no formal qualification out there, with many experts having worked and trained in-house at high end labels. To get hired, it’s a minimum requirement to know your Gucci from your Goochi, and that you can spot a fake Louis V from a mile away. For those interested, there are a lot of resources online to help you out, and you can take online courses run by authenticity experts. Start out by working at an IRL vintage or consignment store and learning all about fashion labels, pricing and authenticity.
Where to apply: These jobs are very rare at the moment and again, are mainly based overseas where the big consignment platforms are based (think The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective). But with the rise of the circular economy, authenticity experts are going to be in huge demand over the next few years. If you’re interested, start learning the ropes now.
Now, I know what you’re thinking and no. This is not a therapist dedicated to treating shopping addiction (though I can think of a few people would benefit) but instead a psychological scientist for consumer behaviour. The job involves getting inside the mind of potential customers, mainly through study, research into consumer habits and surveying the impact of fashion (clothing, cosmetics, accessories) on wellbeing and mindset. Working through a variety of research channels, you’ll need a critical and creative mind.
Potential salary range: $70,000-$100,000+
Experience: Candidates could have a degree in fields spanning business, law, marketing, psychology, sociology or statistics. Two to three years working in market research is also desirable. Studying psychology is perhaps the most obvious starting point though, and an increasing number of universities are offering fashion-specific papers or programs in their psychology degrees.
Where to apply: This role can be found globally in the top umbrella companies such as L’Oréal, Condé Nast and big-name department stores. In Australia, these jobs often come and go, with many experts retained through temporary contracts.
A print designer, as the name suggests, visualises and produces visual designs to be used for textiles, artwork, materials or graphics – think Gorman and Marimekko. You’ll be involved in coming up with innovative ideas and developing commercially-appealing designs and prints. You are expected to be a master of all crafts producing hand-drawn, painted and digital artwork. This also includes producing design ideas, sketches and samples for presentations.
Potential salary range: $45,000-$90,000+
Experience: There are a few different routes to enter this field, some begin as a cutter or machinist and progress into the role, but most complete a graphic design or textile design degree. Expert knowledge of Adobe Suite, specifically Photoshop and Illustrator, is also necessary. Plus, you’ll need incredible drawing skills and a creative eye. Start out by creating your own artwork and familiarising yourself with the relevant programs. This will help you refine your skills and give you material to build a portfolio.
Where to apply: This job is actually quite common, but spans across multiple design disciplines and can be quite niche. Other than fashion, you will also find jobs in interior design, manchester and graphics. They can also be offered as freelance positions or as a commission for one-off work. Put a search alert on for Seek to see all the different roles that pop up.
Similar to a trend forecaster, a data analyst stays on top of trends and consumer behaviour. This is done by collecting and analysing all visitor data from the brand’s channels (Instagram, Facebook, websites, and so on). You’ll need to be well equipped with the knowledge to help make future decisions for the brand, and will be required to communicate and pitch this information to potential investors.
Potential salary range: $70,000-$90,000+
Experience: You’ll need a commerce degree for this one. You’ll also need to know the ins and outs of web analytics and e-Commerce tracking systems. If you’re interested in a role like this but are just at the beginning of your career, familiarising yourself with understanding data and analytics could be a good starting point.
Where to apply: Our dependence on digital behaviour has made these jobs in high demand, especially in Australia at the moment. Most major companies will now have this role and they’re often advertised on LinkedIn.
As a product developer, your role is to coordinate the development process of new styles, ensuring the highest level of quality for each garment. This job is all about sketching, tech packs, sourcing, analysing – the list is endless. You’ll be there from the start to finish of the design process, ensuring the product is the highest quality possible before it hits the shop floor.
Potential salary range: $53,000-$110,000+
Experience: A qualification in design and a full understanding of Adobe Suite is a must. Impeccable time management and creative, outside-the-box thinking are also desired traits. If you have an interest in this field but no idea where to start, working on your own projects and building something yourself is a great way to get practice. Take photos of your creations and share them online, and work towards building an impressive portfolio you can show potential employers.
Where to find: Think specifics – lingerie, swimwear, activewear, shoes. These jobs are quite common and often listed on Seek and LinkedIn, so make sure your profile is up to date.
For more advice on how to break into the fashion industry, head here.