- The fashion industry is estimated to be worth $3 trillion globally, according to FashionUnited, and continuing to grow.
- Whether you are interested in designing or would like to showcase your talents as a stylist, there are various business opportunities in the fashion industry.
- You can learn from these stories of successful fashion brands during your startup journey.
- This article is for those with a passion for fashion who want to leverage business opportunities in the fashion world.
We’ve come a long way since the days when the only coveted jobs in fashion were the designer, photographer or model. People desiring to work in the industry today have a plethora of career options tailor-made to fit their expertise.
If the world of fashion excites you, there is a unique opportunity just waiting for you. Here are 10 business opportunities for fashion fanatics that can help you make a name for yourself in the field.
Business opportunities for fashion lovers
Fashion event producer
Running a fashion show isn’t easy. Fashion event producers work with designers and models, and occasionally coach them pre-runway.
“You would help the designer with runway show casting and have an understanding of how clothes should be portrayed on the body and how the models should carry themselves,” said Kerry Bannigan, co-founder of Nolcha Shows, a New York-based fashion event production company.
While startup costs are minimal – you won’t need employees or an office – you will need to do some heavy self-promotion. Relationships and referrals are key for this type of work, Bannigan said. Business cards, a user-friendly website showing an online portfolio and a printed portfolio are a must. Networking through industry-related websites is also essential, she added.
Before you embark on this career, you should understand fashion shows, work with creative people and be flexible enough to deal with diverse personalities, Bannigan said. Income potential is based on the number of clients you have and how prestigious they are.
Fashion is an industry built on creativity, and protecting the fruits of that creativity is extremely important. Attorneys who represent business owners on copyright and trademark matters are key players in the field.
“I previously owned a women’s boutique before opening up my own law practice,” said Andrea Sager, attorney at Andrea Sager Law PLLC. “I have been able to remain in the industry by representing owners and designers on their copyright and trademark matters. I’ve been able to exclusively serve the fashion industry ever since I opened my own practice.”
A legal background is clearly necessary for this type of fashion career, but so is the desire to “help small business owners by giving them the representation they deserve,” Sager said.
While it’s not a requirement, trademarking your business is a simple three-step process that can protect your brand from misuse.
Fashion business coach
This profession is ideal for someone with a corporate background who wants to make a move into fashion. A fashion business coach guides design firms to run their business, including growth opportunities and everyday tasks – such as invoice collection and bookkeeping. It can involve coaching the creative designer on how to perform and interact in different business settings, Bannigan explained.
Startup costs for a fashion coaching business are minimal, but earning potential is significant, Bannigan said. “Research consultancy services with established businesses can make six-figure salaries with constant clientele.”
Some of today’s influential fashion websites – like The Sartorialist – debuted as small fashion blogs. They’ve since come into their own as thought leaders, and they sell plenty of advertising space.
Fashion blogs don’t require large investments, as website development and hosting can be quite inexpensive. However, becoming a successful blogger requires significant legwork: Whether you’re stalking the city streets in search of fashionable photo-ops or following the moves of leading designers, you’ll need to track the trends at every moment.
A benefit to fashion blogging is that it can complement your existing job, said Angie Wojak, director of career development at the School of Visual Arts. “You can start a blog on your own while looking for a job, and it doesn’t take a big outlay of cash.”
Starting a fashion blog doesn’t have a large upfront cost, with affordable options for website creation and hosting.
Photo stylists work with photographers to scout shoot locations, transport clothing to shoots, buy furniture and accessories, and make sure the event goes as planned. It requires a good sense of fashion, an understanding of fashion history and the smarts to know where to source your products, according to Sara Petitt, coordinator of the fabric styling program at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Successful photo stylists can come from any background. They usually make their mark by performing well and gain business through word-of-mouth recommendations. Photo stylists can be paid hourly or by the project.
Public relations rep
Do you love to talk up your favorite designer brands to friends and family? Are you always searching for the latest fashion news and sample sales? If so, consider starting your own fashion public relations business. Fashion PR is a difficult field to break into, but with the right skillset and connections, you can help designers and other fashion businesses get noticed by the media and fashionistas.
There are several key components to success as a fashion PR professional: You must create a strong brand for your clients to differentiate them from other designers, know how to work with fashion editors to gain magazine placements, coordinate with models and celebrities to get your clients’ work in the public eye, have a keen understanding of media trends and prove the value of your work.
As with any PR job, fashion publicists must be ready to put out fires and handle any crises that arise from unhappy clients, models or editors. [Interested in doing PR yourself? Learn how to complement your marketing and advertising efforts with a DIY PR campaign.]
You’d be surprised at the number of people willing to pay someone a good price to scour their closet and replace dreary clothing with stylish items. You can run your own personal shopping service and revamp your clients’ entire wardrobe, all while getting paid by the hour.
As a fashionista, this job will keep you inspired as you help those who are unsatisfied with their own fashion sense. Using your passions and knowledge in the industry, you can help someone go from drab to fab.
If you’re artistic, you may find success as a fashion illustrator. Using pastels, pencils, oils, paints, markers and computers, you can create sketches to express designs and ideas.
There are many options working as an illustrator. For instance, you can work strictly for a designer or fashion company. Alternatively, you could freelance – working with high-end clients from home or at a studio. You may also sell your illustrations yourself or through a third party. Whichever avenue you choose, invest in the best material for your sketches and have a strong social media presence to promote your content.
The ability to identify emerging trends will make you popular in any fashion circle, but it can make you an indispensable asset for merchants and stores. Retail analysts use their passion for fashion and data to help retailers make crucial buying and selling decisions. [Read more about retail trends for 2023.]
According to Emily Bezzant, vice president of research and analysis at Edited, the “role varies and changes daily depending on the time of year. The most important aspect of the job is to be as knowledgeable [as possible] about the calendar, which consists of notable events and holidays, so reports are timed correctly to help retailers.”
This role is a great one to consider for fashion fanatics who stay on top of trends and use their analytical minds. Successful retail analysts are detail-oriented, as they have to plan events and help retailers stay current on trends.
Fashion design company owner
Combine a love of fashion and business by starting a clothing line or fashion design firm. Owning your own business will not only cultivate your creativity, it’ll also help you become an authority within the fashion industry. As a fashionista with an entrepreneurial spirit, this role is perfect for fashion designers who want to spread their clothing designs to a wide audience, grow their network and build upon business opportunities.
A business partner with an MBA could be the key ingredient for a fashion startup.
Successful brands for inspiration
Whether you’re ready to build a fashion brand or seeking tips as a fashion blogger, you can take inspiration from many successful fashion brands. Here are some interesting examples:
- American Giant – a solely online retailer of shirts and sweatshirts made in the United States – cut its overhead costs by focusing on its e-commerce efforts, reallocating money back into a high-quality product.
- Poshmark gained traction in the fashion industry through its unique business model. Poshmark’s platform allows consumers to sell their fashion staples directly to other consumers while providing customers with prompt delivery and consumer protection.
- True&Co is a lingerie retailer that uses consumer data to help clients find the perfect bra size for their body type.
Take notes from these brands on your road to entrepreneurial success!
Charell Star, Sammi Caramela and Jeanette Mulvey contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.