On runways and in magazines, the fashion industry appears a chic adventure. Behind the scenes, however, the work is demanding and governed by stringent deadlines. Those employed within this field will want to stress their work ethic, skills, and achievements on their resumes and cover letters. Some of the job titles and job functions in this field include:
Fashion Designers. Designers of couture conceptualize fashions for the well to do, based upon analysis of general market and social conditions, the dictates of the seasons, and research of historical trends (all designs are recycled). For instance, the risen hemlines of the Roaring Twenties reflected the attitudes of women granted the right to vote for the first time, and the miniskirts of the 1960’s were a response to the great social upheaval of that era. Selection of decorative trim, such as lace and buttons, are also part of the designer’s responsibilities.
Designer’s sketches evolve into silhouettes draped upon a dressmaker’s mannequin, and subsequently into fully constructed sample garments. In addition to the form or shape of a garment, couture designers also determine patterns, colors/palettes, and fabrics. Hearty wool, for example, would not be conducive to a flowing design, and silk would not hold up well under a very structured, militaristic style.
Once the couture designers unveil their creations for the coming season, their styles are “knocked off” (copied) by designers whose ultimate consumers are members of the general public. This category can include designers of private label merchandise, who create fashions for major retailers. These designers alter the styles to maintain the integrity and the appeal of the originals while enabling their mass-production in a cost effective manner suitable to their client base.
Pattern Makers. Once the designer has finalized the style, the pattern maker takes over. The pattern maker translates the design onto a paper pattern, marking the paper so that it can be used as a guide in cutting the fabric and joining (sewing) the various pieces of the sample garment. He or she then modifies the original pattern to accommodate the various sizes in which the garment will be manufactured.
Whether couture or mass-marketed, the apparel must be presented to potential buyers who view the lines in showrooms. Showroom personnel include sales representatives and administrative staff. Utilizing knowledge of the buyer’s customer base, the sales person selects and arranges samples of the product line in the showroom, highlighting their styling and quality. In addition to marketing the actual merchandise, the sales representative sells service; he assures the buyers that the goods will be shipped by the desired dates. Fashion is both fickle and competitive, and buyers must plan special promotions around certain items. The sales person, therefore, also possesses knowledge of manufacturing schedules and balances that knowledge with buyers’ needs.
Purchasing in volume, buyers attempt to obtain the most advantageous pricing, casting the sales person in the role of negotiator. He must determine or agree to a price both satisfactory to his clients and respective of his company’s need to generate a reasonable profit. Or, he may arrange for special deals, telling the buyers, for instance, that if they purchased X amount of sweaters, he would give them X amount of skirts for a special price.
The administrative assistant ensures that the showroom environment is both professional and inviting. She is often the first direct contact with buyers and will assume the role of the sales person, if needed. This worker performs general office tasks, including reception/phone work, filing, preparation of correspondence, and receipt and recording of accounts receivable. As the “point person,” she also fields questions from buyers concerning the status of the shipments, and investigates and resolves issues surrounding incorrect merchandise, incorrect quantities, and the return of goods whose quality is inferior.
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