I was recently asked for my opinion on how to reduce stress in your fashion job, now and in the future. While I don’t currently work in the “fashion” industry, I was a student and employee of the industry back in the day.
Unfortunately I don’t think there is one magic answer. When I was coming up with my three three tips, I was basing them on my own experience, and what I wish I had of known as I started my career in the industry. Had I been armed with this sort of information, it may have helped me alleviate some stressors, and also avoid some altogether (ahh hindsight).
Whether you’re just starting out, or have already landed a job in fashion, work towards a role that aligns with your values. Maybe you value ethical and sustainable practices therefore won’t compromise working for a fast-fashion retailer. Or possibly you place higher value on work-life balance, and continuing to work a 70 hour week isn’t manageable. Decide what is important to you, and be guided by that in your decision making. I didn’t really know what I valued when I first entered the industry. I thought it was the usual things like career progression, getting to travel with work, and money. But I learnt pretty quickly that while these would be nice, they weren’t as high on my list after all. I now really value ethical and sustainable practices within the industry, it’s an area that I’m really passionate about. So the idea of working for a company that doesn’t place this at the forefront of everything they do, isn’t going to work for me. On the contrary, I don’t really have a lot of external commitments, so for the right job, one that I absolutely love, working those extra hours wouldn’t bother me.
Working within the fashion industry involves a unique set of pressures that are not always conducive to positive mental or physical health. This can leave us vulnerable to developing mental health issues, or exacerbating existing problems. Therefore take some of the pressure off yourself, you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Talk to someone about what you are thinking and feeling, and never be afraid to reach out for help. I think this one is really a given. It goes without saying. I can’t emphasise enough the value of talking about your experiences and how your feeling, whether that be with trusted work colleagues, friends or family, or a trained professional. There is always help available. I have been in both positions, where I didn’t talk about my struggles, and where I did, and I can definitely advocate for the latter option!! At the end of the day, to really oversimplify things, you can’t give your best if you’re stressed. It will impact not only your work life, but also your home life.
The world of fashion is often romanticised. However, underneath the happy and successful veneer can lie a much less glossy reality. So be prepared. There are some things that aren’t told or taught at fashion school, so I recommend speaking to experienced individuals for honest advice on what the industry is like, and gain firsthand knowledge ASAP. There are some things that you unfortunately just don’t get taught at university. I know, when I (eventually) entered the industry, I realised just how naive I was.
Firstly, this is a really competitive industry, so the job hunt can be hard. I left university with really good grades, a scholarship and a internship with a prestigious designer under my belt and it still took me a long time to get a job. Just be prepared that it may not come straight away!
You will learn a lot (actually, most things) on the job.
You may also, unfortunately, come face to face with the less gloss side of the industry (thing like inequity in the supply chain, waste, and promotion of overconsumption).
I am in the process of changing my career angle now, and I am definitely taking my own advice on this one, and speaking to people who have “been there, done that”. I think this is a really valuable tip.
Please GET IN TOUCH or leave me a comment, and let me know if you have found these tips useful, or if you have any tips for reducing stress within the fashion industry that you have picked up from your own experiences.