Getting into fashion — what are your choices?

Are you done with education and eager to start a career in the fashion sector? There are a wide range of options available aside from the ones you may expect, such as designers and models. From a career in fashion-related finance, to discovering a role in communications, the opportunities are varied.

Leading retailer of men’s white shirts, CT Shirts, explores your routes into the fashion industry…  

Pattern graders

This job is essential in the industry. Pattern graders focus on producing scaled-up and scaled-down versions of design patterns, which enables the manufacturers to produce the same patterned piece of clothing in different sizes.

Major tasks of a pattern grader include: checking to ensure that the final pattern matches the original design, tracing the outline of a pattern with scanning equipment and creating sample garments to send to prospective buyers.

Maths skills are also essential. You must be able to take accurate measurements and make calculations in order to scale the patterns correctly. It’s also important that you enjoy being part of a team, so to cooperate with others in the design process, and be able to confidently use IT to work with a digitising table.

No degrees are necessary if you want this role. Instead, you could take the apprenticeship route through college by studying subjects such as fashion or textiles. Or, work your way up from an assistant or pattern cutter to become a grader in a fashion company.

Fashion illustrators

When you see fashion drawings and diagrams displaying potential garment designs, these are the products of fashion illustrators. They work closely with designers to create conceptual sketches and illustrations of fashion products. In addition to this, they may produce advertising copy and images for promotional material for print and online coverage. To succeed in this role, you need to be able to use computer design, as well as drawing by hand and have an eye for fashion.

Many fashion illustrators have qualifications in graphic design. To get accepted onto a degree of this kind, you will need GCSEs and potentially A-levels, or entry based on passing a foundation course. Alternatively, you can build up a strong portfolio and gain experience in relevant positions to impress prospective employees.

Garment technologist

If you have done a costume design course, you may have grown an interest in being a garment technologist. This role is largely about quality control and investigative work with regards to the materials that are used to create fashion pieces.

Developing new materials is the main point of this position. Through testing new combinations of materials and fibres, people in this role look to find the best type of fabric for what’s to be made. These people work closely with designers, pattern graders and buying teams to find the right type of fabric for what’s to be made.

Enhance production techniques is also a part of this job. This might be to do with price and would involve liaising with buyers and suppliers to negotiate a cost that’s within the budget of the project. Or, they might be looking to make the company more sustainable, and therefore the technologist would investigate the production of the fabrics.

For this role, an interest in the production of clothing is vital. Employers may also expect you to have a degree in a related topic, such as garment technology and production, or you may complete a module around this as part of a wider subject. Or, look out for apprenticeship schemes and junior roles, where you can work your way up to this role.


Fashion journalism is available in print and online — plenty of chances to succeed. You could also be a freelancer, but work isn’t guaranteed here. As part of the job, you’ll likely be required to travel and meet new people to conduct interviews and get the latest on fashion stories.

Being creative and getting your work published is essential if you want to be successful as a fashion journalist. Choosing A-levels, such as English Language, will further your creative writing skills, for example. There are specialty degrees out there too, such as a Fashion Communications course, which will teach you more about the sector and increase your employability.

Put together a portfolio of your written work to show prospective employers. Start your own fashion blog to write about the latest news in the sector and approach editors for freelance opportunities. Networking is also a great way to get to know about future vacancies. Try to secure unpaid work in relevant positions to build your experience too.


There are many finance-related roles in fashion, too. Roles like retail accountants allow you to be involved with designers and the garment-making process, while keeping finances under control.

Maths is a must if you want to get a job in this part of the sector. Start by taking maths at A-level and progress to studying a financial role at university. This might be Economics, Accounting or another form of Financial Studies. As part of your degree, take up the opportunity to undergo a year in industry — this can give you an insight into the field that you’re going into and give you some invaluable experience to put on your CV.

Clearly, the industry offers many routes to a rewarding career. It’s all about being proactive and showing potential employers what you’re capable of. Good luck!


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