Is Apparel a Good Career Path?
Academy Award winner and Hollywood costume designer Edith Head once said: You can have anything you want in life, if you dress up for it. It may be an exaggeration, but her statement spoke of the importance and power of dressing up.
We all have to thank someone from the apparel industry for our favorite dress, tuxedo, or just plain shirt. And every year, more people flock to stores, or these days, their favorite e-commerce platforms, to buy clothes not just for necessity, but for fun.
As of the end of 2022, the revenue of the global apparel industry has grown to $1.5 trillion, easily the size of one small economy. The allure then of joining the industry is strong, that one may want to ask: is apparel a good career path?
Below we share some of the most common jobs in apparel.
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What Are the Best Apparel Jobs
The fashion designer determines almost everything about a piece of clothing. He or she first conceptualizes a garment by drawing it, and then eventually sewing it himself or herself. In this case, the designer also conceptualizes even the type of fabric, threads, and colors used for the item.
A bachelor’s degree is usually necessary to be a fashion designer, but is not always necessary. However, for companies that hire fashion designers for mass production, for example, a degree would be helpful to be employed by the company.
Securing an internship in a reputable fashion brand could also accelerate one’s career in the industry. This way, an aspiring fashion designer can collate a portfolio of work that he or she can use as a springboard to be a ready-to-wear or haute couture fashion designer.
As fashion is very influenced by trends, a fashion designer must always be open to learning new techniques and tricks to incorporate something new into his or her designs. Securing certificate courses, or enrolling in specialized courses could certainly be helpful for a fashion designer’s career.
A merchandiser ensures fashion items like clothes and footwear get delivered to big stores like department stores and e-commerce platforms’ warehouses, on time.
The job requires the merchandiser to work closely with fashion brands to track production cycles, and supply chain issues to guarantee that stores are fully stocked with inventories. At times, a fashion merchandiser also works with a fashion brand to set pricing to ensure both the retailer and the brand get returns for the item sold.
To provide the retailer with the best selection of items, a merchandiser is also expected to research market trends. This way, the retailer stays relevant for their customers.
To be a merchandiser, a bachelor’s degree is often required. A business-related degree is often helpful, as the job requires one to be strategic and have the business acumen to handle operations.
However, a degree in fashion merchandising is often preferred as on top of business operations, the job requires one to have an eye for fashion.
A retail buyer chooses the fashion items like clothes and footwear, that get on the shelves of big stores like department stores and among the selection of e-commerce platforms.
To become a successful retail buyer, one must have both the creative and business chops to handle the overall operations of a fashion business. The work demands that he or she become strategic enough to choose the correct items to be placed in stores, for both creative and economic reasons.
The job also usually includes marketing work, as a retail buyer usually sets prices with designers, and also crafts campaigns and promotions to help their items sell.
As the retail buyer determines what items get sold, he or she can make or break a brand.
The work provides one with a certain authority and could be exciting for anyone who wants to be a trendsetter in fashion. To become one, an aspiring retail buyer would usually have taken a Bachelor’s Degree, particularly in fashion.
Eventually, a retail buyer could increase his or her salary once substantial experience is gained. As there are now also e-commerce platforms focused on fashion alone, up-to-date training on the subject could also be helpful for a merchandiser’s career. According to the National Careers Service of the United Kingdom, specialized diplomas in fashion retail and procurement and supply operations could also be useful to advance one’s career.
A fashion marketer crafts ad and marketing campaigns to promote clothing, accessories, and footwear to targeted groups of people. They usually work with fashion designers to ensure the campaigns stay true to the style and identity of the brand.
While it is not always required, a degree in Fashion Marketing could certainly be helpful for anyone who aspires to be a fashion marketer. Getting an internship in a fashion company could also get one’s feet in the industry, especially for those who just graduated.
Since marketing fashion these days requires the usage of social media platforms to implement campaigns, a fashion marketer must always be up-to-date with the new features of such. Some platforms, such as Google Ads, which many use to implement digital campaigns offer certificate courses. Acquiring one could be helpful for a fashion marketer these days, as fashion campaigns usually use online platforms to target intended audiences.
A textile technologist develops the textile manufacturing process of companies that produce fashion items, such as clothing. They study the properties of fabrics to ensure the manufactured clothing is comfortable, or at least follows the demands of the company that ordered the item.
A bachelor’s degree is often required to become a textile technologist. Since the job is highly technical, a degree that is relevant to the job is often demanded by employers.
Why You Should Get a Job in Apparel
To have even a little influence on how someone dresses themselves, could be a fulfilling career. And with the myriad of ways apparel is sold these days, the industry is set for an exciting trajectory.
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, about 92,000 people are employed by the apparel industry on a monthly basis. The number encompasses all roles that contribute to the manufacture of apparel, from hand sewers to executives.
Like most industries, there is certainly a huge difference in how much workers are paid in apparel. Data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics show the average annual mean wage of workers in the industry range from $28,640 to as much as $385,150. If the wage for executives would be omitted, the highest-paid worker in the industry could be paid $180,580.
The demand for workers in the industry is still expected to grow, as revenue for global apparel is set to hit US$1.7 trillion by the end of 2023. Companies would also have to be more strategic, as competition is fierce in the industry.
This means, anyone from fashion designers to marketers, must be willing to study and upskill themselves at different points of their careers to remain employable and ultimately, to advance in the industry.
Pursuing higher education, or acquiring certificate degrees could certainly help anyone in the industry who is looking for a better payout. After all, fashion is ever-changing, and anyone who works in its industry must be willing to embrace new trends and try new techniques and strategies to craft innovative products and campaigns.
In 2022, for example, Google and Vogue Business revealed consumers prefer “extraordinary” techniques employed in the way apparel items are sold or made when making fashion purchases. In a study, the firms revealed 7 out of 10 luxury buyers consider brands that are “innovative and experiment with out-of-the-ordinary technologies” to be a factor in their fashion shopping choices.
That workers in the fashion industry could adapt to fast-changing environments is an attitude that could be helpful in case they face roadblocks, and would have to be forced to change careers. A fashion marketer, for example, could definitely pursue working for another industry as the job demands one to be adept in handling brand campaigns.
A Job in Apparel Remains Fashionable
With how the industry is responding to the constantly evolving shopping habits of consumers for apparel, it’s apparent that it is on its way to exciting changes. It would be daunting, for sure. But anyone who wishes to have even a slight touch on how people will dress themselves would be up to the task and would want to have a good career path in apparel.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.