Production is an integral part of the fashion industry. The greatest designs in the world are nothing if there's no one to transform those concepts into real garments.
This is a field with lots of different roles within it – purely because there are so many aspects to creating garments. There's lots more to do than meets the eye!
If you want to be part of one of the most crucial aspects of the fashion industry, keep reading for our top tips on getting a fashion production job.
Know what's out there
For every stage of garment creation – from translating the sketch to a pattern, to delivering the finished product to your client – there is a role that you could fill.
Here are some of the core fashion production jobs you could apply for:
Pattern cutter: Takes the design and translates it to create a pattern so that it can be made.
Marker maker: Lays out the pattern on the fabric, and works out the best way to line up the fabric at the seams and minimise waste.
Fabric assistant: Manages all aspects of the fabrics.
Cutter: Cuts the fabric into shapes.
Sewing machinist: Stitches the cut fabric pieces together.
Sample cutter: Creates the samples that designers will show.
Garment cutter: Works from ready-made clothes, rather than new rolls of fabric. Usually works with vintage clothing.
Quality manager: Checks that the finished product is up to the required standards and meets all the client's specifications.
Factory manager: Runs all aspects of the factory, to make sure everything gets done well and to schedule.
Tailor/seamstress: Makes modifications and fits clothes onto models, usually for shows. Will tend to work alongside sample cutters.
At GCSE level, study subjects like Textiles and Design Technology. They'll give you a basic introduction into this type of work, and opportunities to use equipment similar to that in the industry.
Then try for an apprenticeship. It's one of the most common ways to enter fashion production, as it teaches you the specialist skills required through hands-on experience. This will help you when applying for textile jobs in the future.
Make sure to do an apprenticeship that lines up with the area of production you want to go into.
Consider doing a second apprenticeship after completing your first. Advanced or higher level apprenticeships will give you the opportunity to specialise further and gain experience more closely connected to your desired fashion production role.
For many of these roles you'll need some experience of leading a team. This could come from past management experience, or from a course in business management.
Hone the essential skills
Whatever role you go into, you'll almost certainly be working with some pretty complex machines. Look for opportunities to learn on similar machines and get comfortable with the tech in your field.
This is easier than it sounds, as most roles will outline which equipment you need to be familiar with before you apply, and it's likely you'll have encountered it through an apprenticeship or degree course.
You'll need a keen eye for detail for pretty much all production careers. Build up techniques for getting organised and staying focused, and this will naturally follow.
Sewing and design basics will set you apart from other candidates, but aren't essential.
Passion is crucial for any job in the fashion industry. Make yours really apparent to anyone looking by filling your social media channels with carefully curated fashion content. Take it further and put up pictures or videos of your own creative projects to show off your skills. This will really set your application apart.
Look to the future
While you're looking for a fashion production job it doesn't hurt to consider what opportunities it provides further down the line.
For example, pattern cutters could progress into pattern grading (scaling patterns up and down to create clothes in different sizes).
Most production careers could also progress into buying or even design. As you'll be working alongside people established in these roles, you'll pick up skills and make crucial contacts that will help you if you decide to pursue these paths.
You'll also find that because your skill is so specialised, once you're well established, there are lots of opportunities to train people looking to get into the industry.
A career in fashion production requires a specialist technical skill set and a lot of dedication. Start looking at different production careers today, and find your place at the heart of the fashion industry.