What Will You Do With A Fashion Degree?

“You can’t get a job with a fashion degree!”

Said every fear-mongering naysayer who knew NOTHING about the industry.

If I had a penny for every time my parents told me that, I’d have paid off tuition for Parsons in a go!

Isn’t it annoying how some people would rather squash your dreams without even giving them a valid chance?

Well for anyone who has been burying their head in the sand, here are a few quick facts about what you can do with a fashion degree…

  • Many administrative jobs will take candidates with any kind of a degree to their name, including fashion
  • Of the job titles that are directly related to a fashion degree, we have counted at least 21
  • The fashion industry is a $2.5 trillion industry. It stands to reason that preparing yourself to work in this market is a pretty good bet
  • There’s more to fashion jobs – and fashion degrees – than just design
  • There’s more to being a fashion designer than just frolicking around in fabric all day.

But if your parents are anything like mine, you’re dealing with some hardcore resistance.

And worse! Their negativity may have begun to rub off on you…

So to help reassure your parents - and silence any budding doubts – let’s divide careers you can get into with a fashion degree into 2 camps...

What Types Of Jobs Can You Get With A Fashion Degree?

First things first.

The 2 commandments fashion jobs are...

  1. There is more to working in fashion than just being a fashion designer.
  2. There is more to being a fashion designer than just making pretty sketches.

If you read my article on the 21+ careers in fashion, you’d know there’s loads of opportunity for work in fashion.

The careers we discussed in that article are predominantly creative/technical roles.

But many Administrative/leadership roles exist in fashion as well.

Yes, we all want to be a fashion designer. Me included.

But that’s probably because design was our first introduction to the world of fashion.

All the industry insiders I’ve talked to do agree on these 2 points

  • Creative roles will be guided by the administrative roles. Which means you still have to work within certain parameters. That’s the unique challenge of designers in and of itself. And…
  • Though administrative roles may not seem as colorful on the surface, you still definitely need a love and knowledge of the more creative side of fashion because you’ll be collaborating with people carrying out creative/technical roles.

So, what am I saying?

If you’ve read any of the interviews I’ve done on this website, you’ll know that every working professional talks about how you need a well-rounded knowledge of the industry and the different aspects of it.

Fashion is one of the most collaborative industries I can think of.

Gone are the days when you’d sit isolated with your sketch pad and be lost in a world all on your own.

To bring your designs to life will require a village of talented professionals all working together. Getting feedback. The push and pull.

That’s why I have such respect for the people that work in this industry at all levels.

Types Of Fashion Degree

Now that we know what we can do in the fashion industry, now you need to know what you can study.

The rule of thumb of fashion degrees

Not all fashion degrees have the word fashion in them.

Life changing. I know!

I let this hold me back many times, when really I did not understand that the degree I was looking at did have everything to do with fashion.

Other words used to describe fashion degrees include

  • Apparel
  • Dressmaking
  • Textiles

Those words might not sound as sexy as fashion, but they are to do with it all the same.

But don’t take my word for it.

Let’s talk to a real-life fashion grad and see what she did with her fashion degree…

Interview With A Fashion Graduate

Mariah Billadeau
Fashion degree: Apparel, Retail Merchandising, & Design
Fashion School: North Dakota State University
Class of ‘19
Fashion Job:Assistant Product Manager at Emin + Paul

What fashion degree do you have?

I took the Apparel, Retail Merchandising, Design (ARMD) program from North Dakota State University.

Why did you pick it?

Because I’ve been designing and creating some of my own clothes since I was five years old. I literally turned my hobby into my career path, and I’ve been thankful ever since.

How did your family feel about that?

My family didn’t feel like I could make a career out of fashion. They were also skeptical that a girl from North Dakota could make it in the fashion capitals of the world. But once they saw I could hold my own in the internships I’ve had around the globe like in Sydney, Madrid, etc. they warmed up to the idea.

You now hold a position at Emin & Paul. How did you end up with them?

I started out as an intern with the company, which I was hoping for a full-time position with them after my internship was finished. During the final weeks of my internship I discussed with my boss about my work ethic with the company and how I would love for them to consider hiring me as a full-time employee.

A few days before my internship was going to finish my boss took me to get coffee and offered me a position with the company. Yay!

How is work different from school or internships so far?

Emin & Paul London Ltd. is a small fashion brand, so it feels more like a family. Your options and ideas are heard, which really sparks a lot more creativity within the company. There’s a lot more freedom and personal connection within the company and working as a full-time employee compared to as an intern.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

My days are never really the same because this is a small company. Every employee does multiple tasks that are technically not part of their duties. My job mainly focuses on material knowledge and quality.

Looking back, what had you planned your career to be and where do you see it going?

I’ve always had an open mind about my career. So I was never set on one specific role or path. I love to challenge myself and if I don’t feel challenged at my job then I know that maybe it isn’t the right path for me. I see myself working with material engineering and function. That is the most interesting to me.

How do you feel about the fashion industry now that you’re actually in it?

I feel like many people have this perception about the fashion industry. That it’s “just clothes” or “anyone could do it”. But the reality is that it’s so much more than that.

When you work in the fashion industry on the business side, you’re a logical business(wo)man who needs to have a business mindset, but also a creative, artistic side means fashion is about expression and art.

When you work on the design side of the fashion industry then you need to have the talent to predict trends before anyone else so you can design clothes on time that are in-style and modern, but also fits your brand’s identity.

Working in fashion carries the juxtaposition of these 2 sides.

Final Thoughts On Getting A Fashion Degree

Some people are lucky enough to have people supporting and cheering on their dreams.

Some people are not.

If you have the ambition to get your degree in fashion, I honestly don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t.

All you need is to do your research so that from the word go, you’re building yourself the best possible career from the ground up.

Apart from that, shut out the negative comments and join the ranks of thousands of professional, gainfully employed within the fashion industry.