How to Get Your First Job in Luxury Fashion | Read Time 4 mins

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colourful fashion collage

Last year I covered a year-long maternity leave as a recruitment assistant in a luxury fashion brand. Within that year, I knew every single person who came and went; from design studio interns to warehouse assistants, our team covered all the roles that needed hiring - and as an international company, there were a lot of shoes to fill. By no means did I make the big decisions, but I listened and I observed... here's six pieces of advice that are key to unlocking your first job in your dream brand:


  1. Don't be intimidated by the title 

Society constantly feeds us a greatly intimidating portrayal of high fashion, and this air of superiority and negative preconceptions can discourage many hopefuls. Well firstly, snap out of it, because you're a boss ass bitch and you can do anything you set your mind too. Secondly, sit back and simplify it. You're applying for a job - you're not applying to become the face of the latest campaign and have regular dinner dates with Anna Wintour. The potential day-to-day working environment will be very similar to any job you've ever worked in... just a little bit more glam. There's a reason roles are available, and hiring managers want them filled asap! APPLY - you'll never know unless you try. 

2. Keep it digital (unless told otherwise) 

We were once sent a T-shirt with a candidate's portfolio printed on it. On a separate occasion we were given a CV crafted into a packet of seeds (I think they were going for a 'plant-me-in-your-company-and-watch-me-grow' kinda vibe). As amazing as they were, both prospective applications stayed on my desk for the duration of the year and didn't go any further than that. I sent emails to both candidates, thanking them for their interest and praising their creativity, before directing them to our online Careers page. We live in a digital world, and unless requested otherwise I would always channel your creative energy into an online portfolio and/or CV, because that's going to be how a great deal of fashion companies wish to view your work and experience. If you can conjure an amazingly edited resume out of Photoshop, chances are that's going to have more of an impression on a hiring team than sending packets of seeds in the post. 

Which brings me onto my third point... 

3. Limit your time sending out prospective applications

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending a well-structured email to a hiring team introducing yourself and showcasing your talent. However, the likelihood is, if their Careers page doesn't show it, they're not recruiting for it - so don't spend all your time enquiring about a job that doesn't currently exist. Send that introductory email after you apply for a job that is actually listed. Introduce yourself then, and explain how you've just applied for the XXX role and you're eager to showcase your talent to the team. This always made a better impression for me, because when it came to shortlisting I would make a note to look out for that candidate above anyone else. 

4a. Tailor your application 

This one may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many CV's I read that were not related to the role in any way at all. There were times when we'd be recruiting for, say, an e-commerce assistant, and we'd get CV's that were from designers showing us their portfolio of collections. That's great, but do you know SEO hun? As much as people can be intimidated by a luxury fashion role, many also get way too excited and apply for anything and everything - even if they're not qualified. A good recruiter will list the essential and desirable criteria on the job listing; your job is to read through that list and be honest with yourself. If you think you can do 80-percent or more of what is required, I'd say there's nothing wrong in submitting your application.

4b. PROOF 

I cannot stress this one enough. You. must. proof. your. application. especially. your. cover. letter.

And especially if you're applying for multiple roles across different companies. 

The amount of applications I received that were addressed to the wrong company was crazy. It notably happened more so with internships, which makes sense because it's assumed that the candidate will have applied for multiple roles. But it immediately puts the hiring team off; remember, these are people who are very passionate about their department and the brand... that first impression is everything. 

5. Find your entrance - and GLOW UP

Seasonal roles pop up throughout the year and are a great way in because they naturally have a higher turnover rate, which means more opportunity to get hired. Warehouse assistants, showroom stylists, customer service representatives... they're all crucial cogs in the fashion brand, and are perfect for talented, driven people who want to get their foot in the door. And more often than not, managers will look internally to recruit first before opening the role up to the public, and guess who's going to be at the top of their list? YOU! 

6. Do not be afraid to be yourself 

We've all got that 'interview persona' which makes you talk about ten octaves higher than usual and adopt an accent you didn't even know you had. That's normal, but don't be afraid to also show your personality. Hiring managers are looking for people who'll fit in well with the existing team; having a workforce that collaborates well with one another is crucial in fashion. I'll admit, I initially got rejected for my recruiting role because I didn't have enough experience. But I was second in the line, and when the first candidate turned the job down, I was called, and I dare say that was down to how I came across in the interview. 

That first step on the career ladder often feels so out of reach, like you'd have to do three years of pilates just to be able to stretch your leg up to step on it! But with time, perseverance, and a lot of belief, you'll soon be reaping the rewards!

*the outfits worn by the models in the graphic above were designed and created by my wonderfully talented friend Mary Parkinson, for her graduate collection.*

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