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David Jones

How to make it in fashion

Fashion is a notoriously hard industry to crack. It's a business that lives on exclusivity and newness but feeds off being seen, photographed and written about everywhere and anywhere. There was once a time when designers and models were the only faces of fashion but now stylists, buyers and bloggers have widened the scope of what working in fashion can look like. Good news if your dream job is in fashion, but where to start and how to get there?

As part of The Fashion Project, David Jones hosted a Masterclass of industry heavyweights from across the spectrum of Australian fashion. They shared inspiring stories of how they cracked open the gilded door of fashion and have risen up its ranks — some may surprise you, some you may already know but one thing they all agree on is that breaking the rules and a lot of hard work can take you all the way up to the front rows of fashion.

The expert advice and insider tips they shared were so good, we're listing them here for you. Think of it as your cheatsheet on how to make it in fashion.

Leigh Hawkes, Creative Director at House of Quirky

First job: Designing for the Arcadia Group who owns UK fashion stores Topshop, Whistles, etc.
What she looks for: "I look for someone whose work shows their natural handwriting,...their personal identity."
Top tips: "Explore your creativity, be curious and have fun, and most of all, be authentic."

Carmen Duigan, Head Designer at Keepsake the Label

First job: Working in admin for Keepsake.
Top tip: "Making mistakes is OK, but make sure to learn from them."

Kelvin Harries, Stylist

First job: "At a bank, balancing sheets and working in accounts. When someone told me they only come to work to see what I was wearing, I knew I was in the wrong place."
Stylist DNA: "Being a stylist means a lot of negotiation and observation. It's a visual medium so you need to know how to convey character and concepts by collaborating with others and interpreting someone else's ideas."
Top tip: "Have a strong sense of self-belief."

Kate Benson, International Buyer at David Jones

First job: Working for a local distributor of international womenswear designers.
Customers first: "I spend four months a year travelling around the world, trying to gauge key trends for the season but it's important to spend time on the floor to really understand the customer."
Top tip: "Developing relationships is absolutely integral to make it in fashion."

Montarna McDonald, Founder and Director of The Audience Agency

First job: "I started young. When all of my friends were partying, I was interning at as many PR agencies as I can so when I graduated from uni, I already had 5 years of PR experience under my belt."
Being first: "We were one of the first PR agencies to launch a blog for a brand...we're always looking at ways to do things differently and for modern ways to interact with our audience."
Top tip: "Position yourself as an authority and expert of whatever you want to specialise in."

Margaret Zhang, Writer/Creative Director for Shine by Three

First job: "I started my blog when I was 16 and still in high school."
Digital whiz: "The digital landscape changes quickly so don't limit yourself to just one thing...break the rules, apologise later."
Top tip: "You know more than you think you do."

Special thanks to our sponsors David Jones Flowers, and Lucky You Cleanse juices.