I remember being a bright eyed and busy tailed fashion graduate, it was both exciting and scary. Fast-forward 15 years and I must admit that it is quite a different world now. Not only did my current role not exist, but the idea of opting to lead a digital nomad lifestyle straight out of university was so science fiction. Unfortunately, a laptop and a decent wifi connection isn’t going to cut it if you want to reside in the fashion tech space.
If you must know the one thing I have noticed to be a common thread among the Maddy Maxeys, Billie Whitehouses, Sylvia Heisels and Marina Toeters of the world, is their ability to think outside the box. This is an ability that never fails to grab the attention of early adopters. Once you get them believing in your project, then everyone else will follow. Remember, this is an industry that gravitates towards the weird and wonderful, so do not ever assume that your idea might not be of this time, because there is going to be someone who gets a buzz of your brilliance.
“Remember, this is an industry that gravitates towards the weird and wonderful”
On that note, from someone who has been there, done that, I want to share with you answers to common questions usually uttered by the greenest of graduates.
What is waiting for me in the world of fashion and technology?
In an industry so young, there are no limits to what you can do. The world is literally your oyster. Whether you choose to be a maker or a material designer, your job will be an interesting one. You will have room to be your creative self, a perk that not many industries offer.
“It’s imperative that you build on your experience, connections, and self-awareness.”
As lovely as that all sounds, it is not all rainbows and unicorns though. This is mainly because the merger between fashion and technology is still finding its voice. So the question is, are you willing to fight, more than a few times, for your ideas to become reality? Not everyone will believe that what you are trying to create is achievable, therefore it is imperative that you build on yourself, your experience, connections, and self-awareness.
How can I use my degree to my advantage?
A masters degree in fashion is a great achievement, but your natural talent is invaluable. Remember, you need to stand out from the pack of lions who are as hungry as you are, so do not be afraid to be different and better than your rivals.
“A degree is a great achievement, but your natural talent is invaluable.”
Know where your strength lies so you can build on it. The wonderful thing is that, most of you are graduating from courses that have merged the exciting industry of technology with the inspiring world of fashion. This means that you have the kind of tools that will help you find your way and make us all sit up and take notice.
What’s the most important skill a graduate can develop to flourish after university?
If you want to build an enviable reputation in the Fashion Technology space, you need to have confidence in your end goal. When you apply yourself, it is easy to want to give up at the 1st hurdle or the 50th, but you mustn’t. So when your fragile confidence takes a dip remember that changing direction does not equal giving up, it just means that you have recognized that you need to find another path in order to reach your end goal.
What’s the most common mistake graduates make as they begin their career and assess their skills and prospects?
If you want those well guarded doors to open, be humble. Thinking that you are better than the person next to you will not hold you in good stead, especially at the beginning of your learning curve. Remember, being confident is one thing, being arrogant is quite another.
As a new graduate, you have a long career path ahead of you, so be prepared to expect less and give more, and always keep in mind that no one size fits all, so do not compare, instead just get on with it!
What do you wish you knew when you graduated?
I wish that I had a clearer idea of where I was headed. My problem as a fashion graduate was that I wanted to learn it all. I went from working at a fashion rag to fashion PR and now I am founding editor-in-chief of a digital fashion tech magazine that translates technology in a fashion voice. Having my fingers in a lot of pies got me dizzy with knowledge and one of the strong skills that I gained from all that enthusiasm was flexibility. I can adapt into any work environment or role with ease. So be prepared to learn and adapt as you grow because the learning never stops!