Fashion careers explained: Top jobs in fashion

by Jade Rhode

There are many career opportunities in the fashion industry, each playing an integral role. What career do you think interests you?

The judges on Project Runway represent different careers in the fashion industry. Source:

The fashion industry is a fast-paced multi-billion Rand business that aims to provide clothing for society. Not only does it deal with the design and distribution of clothing, but it also deals with manufacturing, marketing, retailing, advertising and promotion.

The business also allows us to mix our knowledge of fashion with other skills and interests we possess. Let’s say you’re into fashion and entertainment. You might just see yourself being a personal stylist to the stars. Enjoy taking pictures too? This would be a perfect opportunity to become a fashion photographer.

Choosing a career in fashion can be quite daunting. To understand the different careers a bit more, here is a list of a few of the most popular fashion jobs in the industry.

Fashion merchandising

If you love shopping, this job is for you. Fashion merchandising literally combines fashion and merchandising. It requires individuals to have the skill of predicting the latest fashion trends to determine merchandising strategies for retail stores. This can be seen as the business side of the fashion industry. As a fashion merchandiser, it would be important for you to keep up with the latest fashion trends, attend fashion shows and always be in contact with designers. Essentially, you will need to know what the consumer wants before they even know it so that it is ready for them to buy in stores.

Textile design

If you enjoy designing your own prints and patterns on fabric (not to be confused with patterns used to make garments), then consider the option of becoming a textile designer. Textile designers constantly need to come up with creative and commercially appealing designs for a variety of fabrics, using either manmade or natural fibres. Examples of classic textile designs would be the Houndstooth pattern or African prints. Part of the job description may include working in research labs to develop advanced materials and creating fibres and fabrics.

Fashion journalism

Anna Wintour, world-renowned editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine, started her career in fashion journalism. Source:

Do you have a passion for storytelling? If your answer is yes, a career as a fashion journalist would be quite fitting. Fashion journalism not only includes writing but photojournalism and social media too. In today’s world, we are seeing little mention of print media. With that said, it is important to be tech-savvy as fashion journalism is moving into a digital direction. Turning the pages of a magazine is quickly becoming a thing of the past and transitioning into clicking a link in the bio. Fashion journalists play an important role in the industry as it is their job to inform the public of the latest trends and news in fashion.

Visual merchandising

Some people often think that visual merchandising is a fancy way of describing a store window dresser. This is not the case. There is a lot of thinking that needs to take place. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to enter a store that doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing, would you? Visual merchandisers need to use their creativity to help promote the goods and services of a retail business. Their displays need to encourage customers to enter the store and leave with a purchase. A few responsibilities of a visual merchandiser include contributing design ideas, deciding how to use lighting and space, setting up displays and reporting back to head office and buying teams. You not only have to think about next month’s display but plan for the entire year. Creativity is definitely key!

Fashion styling

If you have an eye for style and you are confident overseeing and creating looks, then styling is just for you. Fashion stylists, also known as wardrobe stylists, work for individuals and clothing brands. They are mostly known to provide fashion advice and choose outfits for their clients for photoshoots. It is important for fashion stylists to be up to date with the latest trends and select appropriate pieces for their clients. Even though you might get the opportunity to travel to various locations, keep in mind that you will be asked to work long and irregular hours. Famous fashion stylists include Roach Law (known for styling Zendaya), Brad Goreski and Marni Senofonte.

Fashion illustration

A fashion illustrator digitally illustrating the designs. Source:

When combining your love for fashion with your love for drawing and all things technology, you’ll certainly be able to have a career in fashion illustration. The job requires you to bring forth your artistic skills to illustrate fashion concepts, outfits or industry figures. This is done so that all parties involved can visualize the concept before it is produced. Illustrators have the luxury of choosing to use traditional tools such as markers and paper or going the digital route. You will find most illustrators choosing the latter as programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator are quite popular.

Fashion design

Fashion design can be considered as one of the most important careers in the industry. Influenced by culture and society, fashion designers are the creative minds that work on the design of clothing. Depending on your style, you have the option of choosing to design anything from ready-to-wear to haute couture. If you are thinking of showing the world your designs, it is important to constantly be aware of the current and future styles and trends. Such trends will include fashion, pop culture, textiles, technology, music and social and ethical issues.

Drawing skills are not the only skills you should have as a designer. Four other skills that will shoot you straight to the top include creative, technical, business and management skills. All are equally vital. If you apply these skills, you might find yourselves in the ranks of legendary brands such as Chanel, Moschino and Fenty.

Although the industry seems to be quite luxurious and exciting, it can also be quite intimidating and draining. So, when deciding on a career in fashion, be mindful of busy schedules that will be heading your way. And do not forget to always be up to date with trends!

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