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Characteristics Needed for a Fashion Career

Updated on July 9, 2012

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You think you've got what it takes to excel in the fashion industry? There's a great number of fashion jobs available on the hiring market. With proper education, a tremendous love of fashion and enthusiasm to follow trends in the fashion world, it wouldn't be too hard to enter this field of occupation. Whether you can survive in the industry is another story, though. Many people associate high-end fashion careers with glamor, attractive income and perhaps opportunities to chum with celebrities. The reality, however, is usually not quite as rosy for the majority of fashion industry workers. Many have entered the industry with high hopes and big smiles on their faces, but only some can actually succeed and keep on smiling. Before taking your passion for fashion to the next step, take a look at the following list of traits needed for a fashion career. If you don't possess at least three of these characteristics, your chance of excelling in this fast-paced industry could be pretty slim.

A Busy Fashion Crew
A Busy Fashion Crew | Source


Never assume that creativity is only important for those who want to become a designer. If that's what you think, you don't have a good grasp of this industry at all. This characteristic is actually much needed for most fashion jobs. Fashion designers, of course, have to be very creative with their designs. Folks in fashion PR must come up with tons of ideas to promote brands and products. Fashion models, no matter how voluptuously gorgeous they are, wouldn't go very far if they can only strike a few boring poses. Fashion show producers need to have a great sense of visual aesthetics and a vivid imagination, while fashion journalists must be very crafty with their words. Even in retail business, creativity also plays a crucial role in merchandise display design, sales strategies as well as problem solving.


Meticulous Attention to Detail

This trait is a must for everyone in the designing and production fields. A misstep in the production process, no matter how big or small, always leads to a waste of time and budget. Precision in every detail is something the production crew must take to heart. In fashion shoot production and runway business, this characteristic is also very helpful. Sometimes, backstage crew members literally have just a few seconds to get the models ready for their next walk. Their routine duties usually include preparing the outfits, providing the right accessories, and making sure the hair and makeup are good to go. Since time is limited, the pressure is heightened, so those who are not very detail-oriented are more prone to blunders. And surely, no designers would be happy to see their models on the catwalk with mismatched earrings or a big gash in their skirt.


To succeed in a fashion career, you must be extremely self-motivated. There are various aspects in this industry that have made a lot of people lose their courage and decide to quit. Some fashion jobs have unpredictable hours and could make you feel as though your work is taking over your life. If you're a new designer, you can never be sure whether your designs will ever be successful. Seeing that something you have worked on for months turn out to be a big failure can really crush your spirit. Plus, since the industry can be awfully hard to break into, so many fashion designers, photographers and stylists simply have to become freelancers. This usually results in a lack of financial security and high stress. Some fashion freelancers may have to accept every job that comes their way even if they have to sacrifice their holiday plans or compromise their creativity to suit their customers' expectations. That's why self-motivation isn't just a good trait to have but a must. On the other side of the industry, some fashion careers, such as retail salesperson and fashion educator, can be pretty repetitive and mundane. Without a constant drive to come up with great sales strategies or fascinating lesson plans, working in these jobs could make a person very, very miserable.

Strong Communication Skills

The fashion industry is not a one-man show. The process of creating one single dress, for example, can involve a large group of people, including a designer, textile specialist, fabric technician, production manager, print designer, pattern maker, material supplier and several tailors. All these crew members must be able to communicate and coordinate with one another effectively, or else endless mistakes may occur during the production process. Likewise, runway shows, fashion magazines, fashion photo shoots, clothing stores and PR campaigns are all essentially dependent on good teamwork. Even if you want to go solo as a freelance designer or personal stylist, you still have to be able to communicate with your clients, thoroughly understand what they want, and articulate your ideas to them in a professional and convincing manner.

Thick Skin

Working in the fashion industry is not like participating in a bake sale at your church. At a bake sale, you could bring a bunch of overbaked muffins, and most people would just make no comments at all or only do so behind your back, so that they wouldn't hurt your feelings. Or some sweet old ladies might say something like: "These are so delicious, dear. But well, they're just a tiny bit dry." In the fashion industry, it is quite the opposite. People are quick to criticize but not so inclined to praise. The typical work atmosphere, especially in high-end companies, can be very cut-throat; oftentimes your collegues are also your competitors. If you work for a runway production team, PR company or retail business, you may have to deal with difficult clients who have absurdly unrealistic expectations. No matter how hard you try to accommodate their needs, they might still petulantly compare your work to a pile of excrement! If you don't think you can handle harsh criticisms and finicky people, you may want to consider a different field of careers.

List of Fashion Careers

Communication and Runway Show
Costume Designer
Fabric Technician
Fashion Buyer
Art / Creative Director
Fashion Curator
Bag Designer
Garment Stitcher / Dyer
Store Manager
Fashion PR
Fashion Museum Education Officer
Footwear Designer
Fabric / Yarn Supplier
Sales Assistant
Fashion Journalist
Jewelry Designer
Pattern Maker
Fashion Magazine Editor
Lingerie Designer
Textile Technician
Store Administrative Assistant
Print Designer
Fashion Photographer
Embroidery Designer
Production Manager
Fashion Show Producer
Haute Couture Designer
Photographer's Assistant
Ready-to-Wear Designer
Hair and Makeup Artist
Mass Market Designer
Model Agent
Wardrobe Assistant


Submit a Comment
  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    6 years ago

    hehehehe :)

  • krsharp05 profile image

    Kristi Sharp 

    6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

    Om, consider yourself on the payroll :)

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    6 years ago

    @meloncauli - Yep, that is a very true and very sad fact! It does happen. Some people could be treated pretty unfairly in the hiring process. That's why they need self-motivation to keep them going.

    @leahlefler - Absolutely! Some fashion jobs require you to be very flexible with working hours. If you can't come in when they need you or aren't willing to stay late, they'll just hire someone else.

    @krsharp - Thanks! Well, maybe you can hire me as your personal stylist and interior designer. hehehe

    @Simone - Awesome industry indeed! I'd be so happy to work as a fashion journalist or photographer.

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    6 years ago from San Francisco

    Hahaa, the first thing I thought when I saw your Hub's title was "THICK SKIN!!!"

    I'm glad you included that in your Hub. So much of making it in the fashion industry involves being touch and being persistent and aggressive.

    Totally love your advice and tips- and the cool table, too! The communication / runway show jobs look like the most fun to me, personally. Ugh, what an awesome industry!

  • krsharp05 profile image

    Kristi Sharp 

    6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

    I love your hub! I hate to say that I can barely pair pants and a t-shirt, but it's true. You must be very creative Om, I admire that quality! I really enjoy looking at fashion and watching the industry. -K

  • leahlefler profile image

    Leah Lefler 

    6 years ago from Western New York

    This is a fantastic hub, Om. I am not geared for the fashion industry, but my aunt is a makeup artist and has many of the traits you discuss. Willingness to work long hours might be added to the roster of traits - she works long days when on a photo shoot!

  • meloncauli profile image


    6 years ago from UK

    Excellent hub covering a wealth of information. I read recently how some fashion students, having spent a long time at college, were being turned over for jobs by friends and relatives of famous people. In other words, not what you know but who you know. It's a tough old business as with many other artistic or creative jobs.


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