Should Fashion Designers Specialize?
If you work in the fashion industry you may want to consider specializing in your particular area in order to move your fashion career forward. When you surf through open positions in the fashion industry you will often see they are looking for a very specific set of skills such as “women’s denim designer, or girls sweater designer.” This leaves many fashion professionals wondering if it is better to specialize in a single category for their career? Or are they better off knowing a little bit about several categories?
We couldn’t cover every possible angle of designing a fashionable career in just one post! This article is part of an 8 part Fashionable Career Planning Series. If you want to learn how you can build a successful career in the fashion industry check out the other articles that are part of this series at the bottom of the page.
The answer depends on where you want your career to go. If you are a shoe designer and you love designing sneakers, and your big dream is working for Nike or designing the next fashion sneaker worn by a celebrity, then you should specialize in the active footwear industry. How far you specialize is up to you. You can specialize in men’s active footwear or even footwear for soccer players.
Now if your big dream is to become to Design Director or Creative Director of Nike’s footwear division then you would need to know a little bit about all the different categories. You don’t need to be an expert necessarily. But you would need to know enough about that market to speak intelligently and lead your team.
The Pros of Specializing in the Fashion Industry
Now that you understand why one might want to specialize let’s talk about the pros and cons, and how this might affect your career path.
Specializing in a particular field or category can do amazing things for your career and for your bottom line. By specializing you basically become an expert in your field. And people like to hire experts! They even pay big bucks to hire experts because they know that they won’t have to worry about that area of their business. And as you build your resume with more and more experience at various brands, your pedigree will speak for itself and make you a shoe-in when applying for new jobs.
The Cons of Specializing in the Fashion Industry
You might be thinking “Big bucks, a ringer for jobs? Sign me up! I need to specialize!” Hold on there! Let’s talk about the downside.
When you specialize in a certain area you are limiting yourself to that niche. You may be the best candidate for a job, but there are fewer of those jobs to go around. Also, by narrowing your knowledge base you are potentially going to limit how far you can go in your career. Meaning, you may get to a point where you simply cannot go to the next level because you are at the peak. That being said, if you are absolutely obsessed with that particular field and feel fulfilled then that is the best path for you to take.
What is the answer?
The good news is that you don’t have to go hardcore into a niche. The trick is deciding exactly how wide or how deep to go. Having a wider breadth of knowledge in any category will allow you to move around and try new things. Knowing where you want to take your fashion career (management or pro) will help you decide which path to take.
If you are starting out in your fashion career I recommend getting experience in as many different areas as possible. I say this because early in your career it is important for one to try out different areas to see what they are most interested in. Once you know what you really enjoy then you can think about how to get the most out of your career in this field.
- Write down what you love to design.
- Spend some time thinking about where you want to end up in your career. What are your favorite brands and where could you see yourself fitting into the company?
- Make an action plan on how you’re going to get there.
Fashionable Career Planning Series
If you, or someone you know, want to learn how to build a successful fashion career you can read the entire series here. Learn how to plan your goals and keep your career on track.
- How To Set SMART Goals For A Career In The Fashion Industry
- How To Write SPRINT Goals For A Career In The Fashion Industry
- Top 10 Ways To Keep Your Career On Track
- How To Find A Mentor
- Top 5 Ways To Build A Great Reputation In The Fashion Industry
- What’s In A Fashion Job Title?
- How To Dress For The Job You Want In The Fashion Industry
- Should You Specialize In The Fashion Industry?