The Fashion Fringe: What’s on the Other Side of the Runway?

TV shows like “Project Runway” and “America’s Next Top Model” have transformed modeling and fashion design to the most sought-after careers in the fashion industry. They’ve also shown just how competitive these careers can be. However, there are thousands of people employed in the multi-billion dollar industry that is fashion, and not all of them are Victoria’s Secret Angels. So much goes into creating and marketing a brand– it’s time that the people behind the scenes are given their due.

For all you people who aren’t a size zero or can’t sew a stitch, I’ve compiled a list of other essential careers in the industry that might be better suited to your talents, and still allow you to explore your passion for fashion (and have I mentioned all the awesome swag?).


Photo Credit by ManchesterFashion
The Style Closet: Photo Courtesy ManchesterFashion

Stylists are responsible for helping to create the visual image that a photographer or director may want for a fashion shoot, print ad or commercial. They use their knowledge of fashion trends to dress models and celebrities for magazine spreads and editorial shoots. They coordinate colors and patterns and makes sure their clients are comfortable and look good. There has also been an increase in the celebrity personal stylist trend. Many celebrities have stylists dress them before red-carpet events and these lucky bunnies can either be personally employed by one A-lister or may have several celebrity clients. Entry level stylists can expect to make anywhere from $150 to $200 a day and experienced stylists can earn  from over $100,000 a year to millions. Jeff Ihenando and  Rachel Zoe are two of the more well known stylists right now. If you have an eye for style, this may be the career for you.


Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley at Carolina Herrera: Photo Courtesy BryanBoy

Fashion journalism is actually quite a wide field that includes any kind of print or online material focused on fashion. The most obvious examples are the editorial copy produced for magazines, newspapers and online publications like fashion websites and blogs. Fashion journalists might also be fashion critics or reporters. Many fashion journalists work freelance and later pitch their stories to major publications like Vogue or Elle, and more experienced journalists may partner with photographers to create a more holistic picture of the subjects they cover. Fashion journalists are still actual journalists, however, and still need to do their homework when it comes to research and background information. Skilled journalists may find themselves promoted to the editor-in-chief positions of major publications. Some well known fashion journalists include Andre Leon Tally, (Editor-at-Large of American Vogue and upcoming judge of America’s Next Top Model cycle 14 ) Nina Garcia (Fashion Director of Marie Claire, and current judge of Project Runway) and of course Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue). The fashion journalism field is expected to grow in the next few years, so it might just be the perfect bandwagon to jump on.  Always ready with pen and paper? You might be the next big name in fashion.


Scarlett Johansson Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier: Photo Courtesy MyDigitalPhotographyBlog

Fashion photography is the genre of photography devoted solely to displaying clothing and/or other fashion items. It is most often used for advertisements and spreads in fashion magazines. As this is my chosen career path, I’m a little inclined to say that this might be the best option out of the bunch. Fashion photography is a growing field that requires a skilled photographer with imagination, creativity and an eye for detail. The right photographer can often make or break a shoot as it is his/her job to direct the subject and create the essence of a photograph. Competition for in-house positions is stiff, and internships that help create a portfolio of work are becoming increasingly essential, but the spurt in the use of the internet as a medium in fashion has significantly opened up the market to aspiring photographers. A degree in photography is helpful but not always necessary; a solid portfolio is often the essential factor when being considered for a job. People looking to enter this field can expect to have to work their way up, but the good news is that experience brings opportunity. Good photographers can land staff positions with publications such as Photo Editor or Director of Photography. The ability to promote yourself is also essential in this field; there’s no room for modesty. Top fashion photographers can make around $50,000 annually, but those who have established themselves as a brand like Annie Liebowitz or Patrick Demarchelier can command up to $100,000. If you’re always the one taking the pictures on those nights out, then this just might be your dream job.


Kelly Cutrone: Photo Courtesy FashionIndie

Fashion PR specialists help fashion houses and retail stores brand and market their products. Their jobs usually entail finding creative ways to keep their clients work in the public eye, which can sometimes be difficult. This might include writing press releases, holding press conferences and interacting with media personnel. Some fashion PR firms also charge themselves with producing fashion shows for designer clients. The market for Public Relations specialists focused solely on fashion is steadily growing. Those who watch “The Hills” may be familiar with People’s Revolution founder Kelly Cutrone, who now has her own show on the Bravo Network, “Kell on Earth.” Cutrone’s firm currently represents clients like Nicky Hilton, Paco Rabanne and Vivienne Westwood. This profession almost always requires a 4-year  Public Relations degree, and experience with journalism is also helpful. Entry level PR specialists can expect to make around $20,000 while senior positions may pull in around $75,000. Do you have a flair for brand promotion? This might be the job for you.

There you have it: the next best things that you can do in fashion. These careers represent essential sectors of the fashion industry; all the things that go on behind the scenes. The next time you watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show or get immersed in Fashion Week, remember that all these people helped make it possible.

Cate Young

Cate Young (COM '12) is a fashion writer for the Quad. She also writes a weekly trend report for CollegeFashionista, as well as her own blog of personal projects on fashion photography. She also recently began contributing to the newly launched Outlish Magazine. Cate majors in Photojournalism with a minor in Spanish and hopes to become a fashion photographer.

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