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How To Get Into Fashion Retail

Mark King Fashion & Retail, graduates...

How To Get Into Fashion Retail


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Fashion retail offers graduates a diverse range of career paths, from roles in management to jobs in purchasing, merchandising and supply/logistics. Many retailers offer graduate training programmes, and career progression can be swift, with managerial positions often handed to graduates with three-to-five years' experience.

Retailers offer positions to graduates from many backgrounds but the most desired experience tends to be in business, economics and management, as well as creative arts and design. Preferred skills are relationship management, a strong customer service ethic and previous retail experience.

Getting in

Dr Neri Karra, dean and director, School of Fashion and Design (SFD), London

"Institutions have to be prepared to offer not just a degree, but a career prospect. Students are looking for shortcuts to put their foot on the career ladder and schools have to meet such needs. At SFD London, we have strong industry links and aim to give students an insight through field trips, internships and placements.

"The fashion market is traditionally based on individual creativity, but graduates who have a full understanding of the business side of this industry have better opportunities to succeed. You have to be flexible and dynamic and it's crucial to understand how each step and stage of the business works. That's what we try to provide with courses such as our fashion marketing degree, which we deliver in partnership with the University of Northampton. The course is recognised by employers and they know our graduates will be creative professionals with a global vision."

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Getting on

Brendon O'Sullivan, fashion and retail director, Handle Recruitment

"You need to have a clear understanding of what role or career direction you wish to take so decide early on whether your chosen route is high street, online or luxury; it will determine how fast you can get promoted.

"Learn how the market works – so if you are interested in fashion, for example, you need to know which fashion houses recruit from others – one wrong move here and you could find yourself on completely the wrong career track. Additionally, job titles can vary from organisation to organisation, particularly at a more senior level, so ensure that you fully understand what you are applying for.

"You need to have a passion for what you do – networking and making contacts is a crucial part of moving through the industry so be aware it's not just a job; it's a way of life."

View from the inside

Katie Griffiths, 22, trainee with TK Maxx

"I had always been interested in fashion retail but having done a geography degree I didn't think I had the experience to get into the industry.

Then I found a buying and merchandising course at West Cheshire College. In just one year I learnt so much: my tutor set up placements for me at JD Williams and Cotton Traders. I was offered jobs with both but I wanted to get into a large national company. The interview process at TK Maxx was intensive and involved online tests, an interview and an assessment day but with all the knowledge I had gained from the course I was fully prepared.

"The training I have gone through has been fantastic. I even got to spend two weeks in Brussels learning the technical side of the business. I am enjoying the job and hope I can work my way up to become a buyer for the company."

​Written by: Mark King

Original source: The Guardian