Expert Advice on Building a Career in Fashion

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending Edinburgh Fashion Week with some of my favourite bloggers. My day was packed full of catwalk shows, fashion talks, drinking in the ANTA VIP lounge and chatting with lots of people who I follow on social media! 

The highlight of my day had to be the 'Let's Talk Fashion' panel discussion. Hosted by Social Tailor founder Colin Gilchrist, the panel truly was the cream of the crop from Scotland's fashion scene. I listened in complete awe of their success including Isolated Heroes designer Samantha McEwan who creates collections that are sold to top international retailers and worn by style savvy celebs such as Miley Cyrus and Foxes. I was so thrilled that Sara Hill was on the panel too as I've been a fan of her work for years. Her creative talent knows no bounds as she has achieved global success as a Make-up Artist, Art Director, Magazine Editor (of Hope Street - one of my faves) and she even launched a cruelty free make-up range last year. How does she nail it every time? I'm thinking she must be Wonder Woman in disguise.

Edinburgh Fashion Week
Check out Hope Street & Isolated Heroes if you don't know of them!

The other guests were pretty incredible too: Photographer David Eustice who has shot for various major British publications including Vogue, Strathberry's Merchandising Director Kevin Harding who previously worked for Alexander McQueen and Burberry, Model Team's Director Micheal O'Brien who has helped launch the careers of countless international models, and Photographer Hamish Campbell who's previous clients include Burberry and Harvey Nichols.

scottish fashion blogger

I thought I'd summarise some of the main points which might be helpful for anyone wanting to start a career in the fashion industry - 

  • Samantha McEwan's top tip is to be persistent and she told us "don't be afraid to ask agencies for models or approach people to sponsor you because if you don't ask, you don't get." I agree that being pro-active is essential to achieve your goals and you may be surprised by how many people are willing to help you out.
  • David Eustice said you need to “learn what resilience means. When you're down, get back up." Not everyone is necessarily going to love your work or want to hire you and rejection isn't fun, but dwelling on this will only set you back. Keep seeking opportunities with a positive attitude and stay focused on what you are aiming for.
  • Hamish Campbell discussed how putting effort into social media can help build a fan base and lead to job opportunities, however networking in real life is still hugely important. As a blogger I completely agree with this as I think people are more memorable when meeting them face-to-face and you can have lengthy discussions this way too. Kevin Harding also emphasized how important it is to "be polite to everyone you meet." The fashion industry employs millions of people and you never know who could help you get your big break or next commission.
  • Samantha McEwan told us that financing Isolated Heroes has been the toughest challenge. She started with just £200 and a shabby studio that had holes in the windows which meant her stock would get wet from the rain! Now she has employees to pay and big orders to fill so keeping the cash flow running is a vital factor in running a fashion company. One way of raising money for a fashion project is by running a crowd funding campaign. Samantha raised £6,500 within a month though Kickstarter which went into producing samples and getting them manufactured.
  • As Kevin Harding advised, "learn your craft." In his job role (which will apply to many others) Kevin makes sure he is well informed and up-to-date not only in fashion, but other areas from art to the economy and he understands how they can affect the industry he works in. Although I am constantly learning about fashion and marketing, I should really make more time for the news so this is one of the main points I came away with.
  • Sara Hill mentioned that many of the submissions she receives for Hope Street are imitations of other people's work so her advice is to find your own style. "As an artist find out who you are, what you like and and be true to that." Magazine editors like Sara must be inundated with images and articles so this is an important way to stand out against the competition.

It would be incredible to achieve even half of what these industry insiders have done in their fashion careers. I will be keeping their advice in mind and hopefully you will too. Maybe one day we'll be on a fashion panel at Edinburgh Fashion Week ourselves!