The Fashion and Textiles industry is a very broad employment sector and notoriously competitive. There’s a lot more to a career in fashion than just fashion itself, and there are many different roles within the sector to consider.

You could be involved with everything from buying, merchandising, sourcing, finance, design and garment technology, retail management, marketing, HR or even journalism; find yourself working for a for a high street brand, a luxury retailer or anything in between. Proven experience is necessary to build your skill set and industry contacts. Large fashion retailers in the UK offer a wide variety of industrial placements and schemes for graduates and trainees within the fashion and design sector.

Although design houses and fashion and textiles production is based all across the UK, London still remains the biggest employer.

Where do I start?

Within the Fashion industry you could pursue a wide range of different career choices. has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.

Job roles

Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):

You could also consider the following jobs:

Finding opportunities

As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.

  • Fashion Capital – Comprehensive fashion portal providing the latest fashion industry news, includes daily reviews, designer interviews and trend reports for the UK. Also contains job profiles and advice on start-ups.
  • Fashion United – Covers all the latest fashion news and daily headlines offering a comprehensive industry overview. Search the dedicated fashion jobs career centre, for current job postings.
  • Drapers – Provides the latest fashion and retail news and trends. Website offers careers advice which includes employer profiles ‘How I got here’ the early careers of the fashion industry giants.
  • Creative and Cultural skills – The industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses working in the creative industries. Organisation provides an online hub of advice and opportunities for anyone that wants to work in a creative career.
  • Fashionista – Offers latest Fashion Industry news, Designers, runway shows, and style advice website could help you identify companies who are currently working on new projects and therefore may be looking to recruit additional staff. You could send a speculative enquiry about possible forthcoming opportunities.

Getting experience

Competition for jobs in fashion is fierce and completing internships/work experience could be the deciding factor to securing a graduate job. Undertaking work experience is invaluable in developing expertise and the all-important transferable skills; this will help you demonstrate your motivation and commitment to your chosen area of work, as well as help build your own network of contacts which could be useful for future graduate positions.

For experience and internships opportunities look to designers, fashion magazines and retailers, alongside the major fashion houses, you should consider approaching small companies as they often have a need to recruit flexible and enthusiastic assistants to work on short term projects. Finding experience will take time and effort, employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time.

You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website; in addition to dedicated resources available at Careers and Employability.

It is also worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience. Careers and Employability offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies.


Most fashion internships are short-term (usually a fixed period between three months to a year) and generally unpaid, but will give you a more hands-on experience. Many employers will treat internships in the same way as full-time employment, so when a job role asks for 'at least one year’s experience' you can include this type of experience in your calculation.

Insight schemes

Insight schemes offer a snapshot of what the industry is like. Find out more about which companies have openings and potential career paths by attending fashion career fairs.


Placements will give you a long-term look at an organisation, and help you to build contacts and experience. On some degrees work placements are part of the programme, whilst on others you can choose to complete a placement as one of your modules. Many courses at the University of Portsmouth enable you to complete a one year work placement or self-employment placement; should you choose to undertake either, your first point of contact is your placement office in your faculty.

Work experience

Work experience weeks are a good way to get a short but intense feel for how a particular role works and are a helpful way to find out more about a job you think you’d like.

Work shadowing

Work shadowing is an introduction to many areas of the media, here you spend time with an experienced professional, learning about what they do.

Speculative applications for work experience

In order to write a good speculative letter/email you will first need to do some research into the organisation you are writing to, this way you will be able to target your application to their needs and demonstrate your passion for the company, role and industry.

It is a good idea to write to a specific named individual, if necessary phone to clarify who the best person to contact would be before sending your letter/email (company websites, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles may be useful for this). Remember to give a clear reason as to why you are contacting each employer and in your letter demonstrate that you have relevant skills, perhaps through extra-curricular activities, and explain how by offering you work experience they will benefit. Also demonstrate that you understand what they do as an organisation, really tailor the application to each particular organisation.

The ability to market yourself effectively is a skill you will use throughout your career so why not create an online presence that could assist with targeting your speculative applications. You could use a variety of social or professional networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.

A good starting place to secure work experience is with the university, some courses offer the opportunity to undertake a work placement with a sector specific company, so speak to your tutors to see what is available. You might also like to check out the Students' Union and see what relevant volunteering opportunities they have; for instance if you are interested in developing your fashion journalist skills check to see if they are recruiting staff to update/maintain their social media accounts, or seeking written articles for inclusion in the union newspaper; would they be interested in fashion focused articles? Are they interested in your design ideas for marketing materials, there could be a multitude of opportunities here for you to gain excellent experience?

Outside the university think about small and medium size companies as well as large organisations; it is worth remembering that most big media businesses organise their work experience placements up to a year in advance so start early and take the initiative!

It is also worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience. Careers and Employability offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability centre.

Useful key links to identify companies to make speculative approaches to;

  • Creative opportunities – The University of the Arts London's jobs and internships website opportunities open to all; jobs and paid internships, part-time work, freelance contracts and full-time opportunities.
  • Fashion journalism – Contact specific fashion magazine publishing houses such as Hearst magazines UK; Condé Nast; EMAP; Haymarket Publishing Ltd; Time Inc. UK to enquiry about work experience. Consider contacting local magazines and lifestyle publications, either independently owned or overseen by larger companies such as Archant as well as the free, consumer sector of magazines that are available.
  • Jules B, ASOS, Kurt Geiger – All advertise placements, internships and/or work experience opportunities.
  • Check out your favourite designers to see if they are offering fashion internships. It is also worth looking into the less obvious areas of fashion design for placement opportunities such as the costume departments of film, television and theatre companies.
  • Fashionworkie – Has a useful Internships and Work Placements section use the filters to sourcing relevant opportunities. Please be aware that some of the opportunities overseas may well have a cost involved so it is important that details are checked carefully.
  • Fashion jobs – Exclusively for fashion, luxury and beauty professionals.
  • Fashion United – Current internships in the British fashion industry
  • Cision Jobs – Internship opportunities including fashion journalism. Use the filters to select location and internships to view current opportunities.
  • ScreenSkills – A professional network for creative people; website has a searchable sector specific jobs board with current jobs and internships
  • Inspiring interns – Internship opportunities for all sectors, including Fashion.
  • LinkedIn fashion jobs – Use filters to find current opportunities worldwide.
  • Prospects – ‘Work experience and internships’ section contains links to relevant resources to help you.
  • Targetjobs – General advice about how to secure work experience in the media and publishing industry as well as a searchable database of current opportunities.

Tips to build experience

Explore the various areas within the media sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.

  • Get involved in relevant university or external groups, volunteer with your Students' Union, consider organising a charity fashion show and designing the clothes, or securing a position on a society committee all these are great ways to demonstrate your motivation and interest in this area of work.
  • Enter competitions and attend external workshops to help build a network of contacts.
  • Speak to your tutor, or other members of faculty staff researching in the areas that interest you, as students are sometimes recruited to work on specific projects over the summer.
  • Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in working for them and why they should be interested in you.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our Networking and Social Media section for further guidance.
  • Research companies and agencies offering summer internships, vacation placements, taster experience or introductory courses.

Social media can be an invaluable tool for showcasing your creative flair to employers and the public alike. Many different roles within the fashion sector can be supported by the usage of social media - textile artists and fashion designers may wish to share images of their own work, whereas fashion journalists might favour text based posts, or share fashion images and give their insight and opinion. A social media presence can function in a similar manner to a portfolio, offering employers an insight into your work. Equally, for those looking to work on a freelance basis or found their own fashion brand, having a strong social media presence can help expose you to potential clients and customers. Using relevant hashtags can help your brand to be seen - try looking at similar accounts to see what they are using to boost their engagement.

Finding a job

As previously mentioned there are many different areas within the fashion industry and work can be varied so some thought as to which area(s) you are particularly interested in will help you to target your job search.

Employers who recruit in the fashion sector

  • High street retail outlets
  • Supermarket clothing labels
  • Couture designers
  • Film/TV costume designers
  • Magazines – fashion journalist
  • Fashion houses

Useful websites to help you start your job search

Working in retail

  • Drapers – Jobs board with the capacity to upload a CV and create your own profile.
  • Retail Choice – Searchable website with a variety of opportunities in the retail sector from the UK's top retail companies.
  • Fashion United – An independent international B2B fashion network operating worldwide, information includes news and jobs sections showing current opportunities in retail management in the fashion sector.
  • Retail Human Resources plc – Caters for the full range of retail jobs including managers, buyers and merchandisers working for many of the leading names in retail.

Working in textiles

  • The Textile Institute – promotes professionalism in all areas associated with the textile industries worldwide.
  • Technical Textiles – Keep up-to-date with all the latest developments in materials, technologies, processes, patents and research, market and company news.
  • Drapers – Jobs board browse job functions to find relevant current opportunities.

Working in fashion design

  • British Fashion Council – Supports and promotes the British fashion industry, includes a news section
  • The Stage – Searchable jobs board with a wide variety of theatre jobs and jobs in the entertainment industry including backstage, offstage and performer vacancies. Opportunities include roles in wardrobe and costume design.
  • Design Jobs – Jobs board aims to reach designers in the UK looking to work in a creative design studio, has a board dedicated to jobs in fashion.
  • Fashion Jobs – Fashion jobs board, use search criteria to find current job opportunities.
  • Drapers – Jobs board browse job functions to find relevant current opportunities.
  • Glassdoor – Use search mode to find current jobs in the fashion sector. Website also offers company reviews and ratings
  • LinkedIn fashion jobs – Use filters to find current opportunities worldwide.
  • Creative opportunities – The University of the Arts London's jobs and internships website opportunities open to all, jobs and paid internships, part-time work, freelance contracts and full-time opportunities.
  • ScreenSkills – A professional network for creative people; website has a searchable sector specific jobs board with current jobs and internships
  • Jobs board – Here you will be able to find graduate jobs across different sectors and locations.

Tips for finding a job

  • Keep up to date with fashion news and trends by following the professional bodies on twitter, this information might help you identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
  • Keep your online job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same job role.
  • If you are keen to focus on a specific sector within fashion, check out the specialist websites for these areas for current vacancies
  • Most companies have a Twitter and/or Facebook account, register with them as this is often a place where new opportunities are posted and where you can keep in touch with their current activities.

Useful Twitter and Facebook feeds

Check out the following Twitter and Facebook feeds for news and information about current projects and to tap into the hidden jobs market.

Further information

If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.

Useful reference resources available at the Careers and Employability centre

  • The Fashion Careers Guidebook – A guide to every career in the fashion industry and how to get in – author Julia Yates.
  • Writers & Artists year book – A guide to all aspects of the media and how to write and get published, provides how-to guidance on writing for newspapers and magazines. Useful directory for making speculative applications as it contains contact details of regional and local newspapers and magazines – editor Alysoun Owen.


If you're considering working on a freelance basis or starting your own business, our Student Start Up team is on hand to offer support, guidance and resources to you for up to five years after graduation. Working for yourself can be a difficult undertaking, but can offer the creative freedom to create your own brand or produce your own projects. Find more information on our Student Start Up team webpage.

Other useful resources for exploring freelance work are;

  • Creative and Culture Skills – Useful section on freelancing; get advice from the industry on starting or growing a business, as well as guidance for being a successful freelancer. Learn more about finance, funding and legal issues.
  • Creativeboom – Top tips on how much to charge for freelance work and some helpful links to some of the UK’s leading

Specialist agencies

  • Advocate Group – An Executive Search and Selection firm that recruit on both a global and national scale within the Fashion industry.
  • Angela Harper Resourcing – An independent specialist recruitment agency for the fashion, textiles and homewares industries based in Manchester
  • Fashion Personnel – A leading site for fashion jobs, advertising graduate roles across all industry sectors. Searchable database by sector salary and location.
  • Fashion United – An independent international B2B fashion network operating worldwide, information includes news, jobs, business intelligence, product data and software tools.
  • Four Seasons recruitment – Find jobs in fashion and retail across a variety of disciplines.
  • People Marketing Fashion recruitment – A boutique recruitment agency specialising in the fashion and lifestyle industry managing a wide range of vacancies in the UK and internationally across the supply chain; including jobs in design, buying and merchandising.
  • U & I Recruitment – Agency offers a wide range of vacancies throughout the UK and worldwide, across all sectors – from textiles and clothing to footwear, and accessories, all within brands, manufacturing and retail.

Contact us

The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:

  • Career options
  • Further study
  • CV and covering letters
  • Application forms
  • Job search
  • Interviews

We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.

You can also access our services by calling or emailing us:

Email us:

Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684