A future in fashion

Written by Tsholofelo Mosina for Fourways Review

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It’s an industry few people truly understand and according to Shana Rosenthal, chief executive officer of Lisof, the fashion industry is a highly diverse and mesmerising world of creative commerce with many career paths often overlooked by too many students.

Rosenthal said, “Surely we must blame stigma and ignorance when it comes to perceptions about the fashion industry.”

Rosenthal added that there was an urgent need to change this misconception, because of what the industry had to offer, especially on the business side. “The fashion and retail worlds are vast, fascinating and challenging,” she said.

One such person who has found just that is Katherine Mortner, ladies and design specialist at Edcon, the largest non-food retailer in South Africa.

Mortner said, “I remember attending a career day at school and deciding that this is what I want to do, but was put off when I realised you had to study sewing.” Mortner then studied fine arts for a year, only to follow her passion a year later.

She went on to win the Elle New Talent Award in 2008, which resulted in her being spotted by Stuart Marsh, brand director of Guess South Africa.

Rosenthal outlined the top 10 career paths pupils could consider in the fashion and retail industries:

  •  Planner: Merchandise planning is a systematic approach aimed at maximising return on investment through planning sales and inventory to increase profitability. It’s all about ensuring what the customer wants is available through research, sales tracking, employee training, buying and maintaining the visual aesthetic of a store.
  •  Buyer: Fashion buyers use their sense of style, knowledge of fashion trends and understanding of their target customers’ desire to create an attractive selection of apparel for retail stores. Retail buyers are the brains behind which products or garments are sourced and stocked in advance of a coming season for retail outlets.
  •  Merchandiser: Fashion merchandisers are on the apparel production side and analyse market trends, production costs and previous sales numbers to determine the product direction manufacturers will need to take each season.
  •  Designer: Designers are the creative geniuses who work on the design of clothing and fashion ranges.
  •  Trends forecaster: Trend forecasters predict upcoming trends and reignite trends that are on the decline.
  •  Pattern engineer: The pattern engineer creates the blueprint or pattern pieces for a particular apparel design.
  •  Production manager: The fashion production manager position calls for a person with a passion for detail and an organised mind.
  •  Stylist: Fashion stylists are responsible for bringing to life a photographer or director’s vision for a fashion photoshoot, layout, commercial, print advertisement or music video.
  •  Brand manager: The brand manager’s job is to rev up fashion sales, which can only be done by having a fantastic knowledge of fashion and marketing techniques such as brand equity and consumer buying habits.
  •  Fashion media: This is the world of fashion writers and photographers, fashion public relations specialists, publicists, journalists and bloggers, who help apparel companies and retail stores build and maintain a favourable public image.