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4.11.2013

Requested Post: Fashion Advice

I have been receiving a number of messages from people wanting to work in fashion. I am extremely flattered by this, and would like to point out that I am by no means exceptional at what I do. I study with some extremely talented people whose answers would probably hold much more value! Regardless, I am more than happy to help.

WHAT SHOULD I STUDY AT COLLEGE?
First of all, think about what the job you want to do will actually entail, and what you have already studied. Search for the university course you wish to study, or look at job advertisements, as both of these will often note the employers preferred area of study.

My additional subjects at GCSE were Art, History, Textiles, Drama, and Statistics. At AS Level I studied Fine Art, and at A Level I studied English Language & Literature, Communication & Culture, and Photography.
Most people presume I have an A Level in Textiles, but having studied it at GCSE I found I enjoyed my folder work much more than the construction process. While I love art and photography, I find textile work too mathematical. I would strongly recommend this subject for those that enjoy it or wish to study design, but I chose to incorporate fashion into my other subjects and gained work experience in it instead.
In my Photography projects, I looked at fashion photography and work that inspired trends. In Lang/Lit, I chose to write fashion journalism pieces. In Communication and Culture, I looked at sub-cultural style and wrote a 3000 word essay on theory behind the emergence of trends.

SUGGESTIONS
Here are a list of subjects I think would be valuable for those wanting to work in design, PR, journalism, marketing, photography or styling.

English Language/Literature- Regardless of whether or not you wish to be a journalist you are going to need strong writing skills. It is very rare a company will pursue a request via email if it has been poorly written. You could find yourself writing press releases, briefs, proposing collaborations or even working on a magazine to gain industry experience.
History- You will need an understanding of major historical events. My flatmate, Alice, studies BA Fashion History and Theory at Central St Martins and her knowledge of past fashion is invaluable. Aside from the knowledge History provides, you will also develop strong analytic and writing skills, which are very useful if you wish to work in Journalism.
Communication & Culture/Sociology/Media-I have grouped these three together as they provide similar skills. Understanding society, how people think and how information is communicated is crucial when working in an ever evolving industry largely concerned with culture. You will also gain the analytic and writing skills mentioned under 'History'. 
Fine Art/Graphic/Textiles/Photography- I would suggest studying at least one art subject. Photography and Graphics are both very useful, but think about which is best suited to what you want to do. Remember that these subjects are 100% coursework based and it can very difficult to study two at once!
Business Studies- I would specifically recommend this for those wishing to work in design. You will need to understand how to sell your product and learn about making a profit. 
Statistics- I am not going to pretend for one moment that I enjoyed it this subject. I hated it. I hate Maths. It was non-negotiable that I studied it at GCSE in Year 9. Six years later however, I resent to admit that I am grateful that I have an understanding of it. Statistics would be highly useful for anyone interested in Fashion Marketing.


HOW CAN I GET WORK EXPERIENCE?
In the fashion industry, and at my university in particular, the focus is on skills and experience, not grades.  I study BA Fashion Journalism (Print and Broadcast) at London College of Fashion, and my entry requirements were 240 UCAS points. While this may seem low, there was a rigorous entry process. Without evidence of skills and work experience, it is extremely hard to gain a place. It is for this reason that you need to ensure your personal statement is packed. A lot of colleges and sixth forms like students to have these written by September during A2, so you need to get all of your work experience in now.
At first you'll be under the impression there is no work available. The best thing to do is follow @ukfashionintern, harrass everyone you know for contacts and if all else fails, create your own opportunities. Nothing prevents you from volunteering or creating your own blog. My college didn't have a newspaper for me to write for, so I arranged a meeting with them and set up my own. Eventually, the more you do, the more people will start coming to you with suggestions.
DO NOT be snobby about where you work- the smaller the company, the more work there will be for you to do. I worked with a small team on an independent website and was able to interview my favourite band at the time, The Drums. I was only 17 and that experience looked much better than making coffees at Vogue ever could.
DO NOT expect to be paid at first. Very few companies are willing to pay inexperienced interns. An organisation called 'The Devil Pays Nada' are currently campaigning against this.

NOTE: If anybody is interested in writing/photography/social media/editing experience, please forward work examples to itchfashion@gmail.com

"I READ VOGUE AND I LIKE SHOPPING"
If you learn anything from this post, please let it be this. This phrase does not set you apart from the thousands of other individuals wanting to study or work in fashion. Please have something more to say than this. Please have a favourite designer label that is not Chanel, Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen, and please know why there are your favourite. Please know a fashion editor not named Anna.
As for shopping centres, please start visiting exhibitions instead. And as for Vogue, try reading a variety of publications, subscribe to Drapers, and occasionally read a newspaper. The Daily Mail is not newspaper.

FINALLY
Work hard and be nice to everyone. I hope this post has helped and I'd love to know what you all choose to study!