Every year I see wide eyed graduates looking for guidance. I think it is an amazing time in history to be a young creative. It is a time when all the rules in the fashion industry are being rewritten. Although you might not have the job you initially thought you would walk into after graduation.
The entire fashion industry had already been questioning its motives, social messages and environmental impact. Suddenly, with the global pandemic arriving, everyone has been forced to stop, look and evaluate. There is no point waiting for a better time to undertake finding solutions. That “better time” is now and young voices need to get involved and speak up for what they want. Making yourselves heard on the topics that matter to you is really important. You will be the leaders of the fashion industry in the future. Help shape it now.
The knock-on effects of the pandemic have unravelled some parts of the industry. Companies have to learn new ways of working. Pivoting to digital presentations instead of catwalk shows. Analysing supply chain. How to present our product to customers so we don't sound patronising or get scrolled past as another struggling brand on Instagram. This process is not a step back. It is a long-awaited evolution well past its due date.
Everyone suddenly had to adapt working in teams remotely. If digital presentations take over from catwalk collections, it may even change the way collections are designed. In the same way, when e-commerce became a "thing", companies I worked at were considering what garments could be stored, shipped and presented well to a customer when they arrived, instead of in a screwed-up heap. Will the current presentation techniques - video streaming and photography - adequately recreate the buzz of a show and personal contact of a presentation? It may seem like a leap, but will A.I. become part of the digital revolution in fashion? Will we be able to see presentations streamed to us with models of our own gender, size or race selection? As a young creative, how could you adapt your process?
We are all talking about diversity and equality in all their forms. Does your portfolio reflect your values? From the thousands of portfolios, I have seen in my career “the woman” is usually white and slim. It’s startling to think that from the starting point of creativity there is something at such a discord with the current climate.
If your inspiration and images in your portfolio delve into cultures other than your own, have you conducted meaningful research and thought about the underlying messages and ensured you are showing respect to those cultures, rather than appropriation.
Environmentally, corporate greenwashing just can't happen anymore. We have all wised up to it. I speak to so many students who will have now graduated and the impact the fashion industry has on the environment is one of the biggest concerns on their mind. And it is so exciting to see how many students are passionate about it and want to implement change.
Big brands are under the spotlight now being called to answer for their impact on the planet and society. It will be on the agenda of HR to look out for young candidates who can participate in the move forward with positive impact.
Will you get a job? I think yes. Young talent is a key role for most companies. But you may not walk into the one you hoped for straight out of graduation. This is not a bad thing. I have been reminding everyone that there are more jobs in the industry than just designer. And not to worry if you have different types of work experience on your CV straight after graduation. So, if it is volunteer pattern cutting for a PPE producer you are learning about supply chain and production. Helping with invoicing in the family business will help if you have your own brand. Investigate how brands create meaningful content for online presence, brand communicate and e-commerce. Maybe just teach yourself video editing. Future employers are going to understand. We all lived through this crazy time and had to adapt. Hiring officers and recruitment consultants will get it.
I really believe that today we have a ripe environment for new business models, reflection and action on diversity and inclusivity, digital exploration, stand on environmental issues to blossom.
And some basic tips.
It is essential you keep your portfolio fresh. It could be a small rebranding project, a print design project or a whole collection. I want to see portfolios from designers who are passionate about creating and developing new ideas.
You still need to do the same legwork. Approach every company that interests you with a tailored email and portfolio presentation relevant to the brand. Let each company know what interests you about them. Don’t blanket email. Register with recruitment agencies. It is the same regular advice I give – get out there, put your hand up, let people know you are keen and available.
And even in the best of times, it is really important not to take any knock-backs you might have trying to get into the industry personally. Don’t panic.
And if you are looking for specific advice on CVs or portfolios, you can always check the Denza website resource page.