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Global careers: The Inside Track

No matter where you work in the world, no two regions are the same. Drapers speaks to a panel of recruitment consultants to find out how international markets differ.


Cressida Pye and Alice Smith

Cressida Pye and Alice Smith

Cressida Pye & Alice Smith Directors, Smith & Pye Fashion Consultancy

British educated fashion designers are in high demand in the US due to the excellent training given at UK universities. There are huge benefits in terms of experience gained and salaries earned but it can be quite a culture shock for designers previously employed in the UK.

Working in the US can be tough with long hours, fewer holidays than the UK and shorter notice periods. Designers will need a visa in order to work in the US. Most blue chip companies will cover the cost for a visa and legal fees, however, there are a limited number of visas given out each year and it is not guaranteed that the visa will be granted – though most are. A career as a fashion designer in the US can open up opportunities on a global scale so our advice would be to go for it.

Germany and Spain

Liam Humphreys

Liam Humphreys

Liam Humphreys Regional director, Michael Page Design & Development

Germany has a number of successful retailers and demand is high for designers and merchandisers. Speaking German isn’t a necessity, although most companies encourage learning. Income tax is higher than the UK, so ensure you have a good understanding of living expenses. Relocation packages are available from some businesses, which include relocation assistance, short-term housing allowance and school fees.

Spain has some strong brands such as Inditex, where there is demand for designers. Designers’ technical expertise is not as important in Spain, as local skills in production and manufacturing are good. However, there is more emphasis on creative flair. Speaking Spanish is a must and be aware of the location as many of the large employers are in towns far less chic than Barcelona.

Turkey and Africa

Harveen Gill

Harveen Gill

Harveen Gill Director Hga Group

Each global region varies its skillset demands. Buying and merchandising expertise tend to be in vogue everywhere. Demand for skills depends on the shortages experienced in those areas. Turkey requires buying and design skills, as sourcing and production are already strong. We open our Turkish office next month, which will service Turkey, the Far East and Russia.

Africa requires similar skills, although, as retailing is mature in South Africa, we are experiencing a need for additional functions such as marketing. Blue chip multiple experiences are in demand as organisations only wish to relocate individuals who have had previous success in similar environments.

An open mind, a thirst to work in growing environments and a coaching management style that enables the indigenous population to be developed are essential.


Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor Associate director (UK & International), Fashion and Retail Personnel

In China there are lots of sourcing and manufacturing roles, and high demand for technically skilled candidates. Generally you’re not going to get traditional buying and merchandising positions, though some businesses are realising that to compete they need Western skills, so some buying and merchandising roles are beginning to open up.

I would advise anyone considering the region to go for businesses that have a global focus, rather than just the domestic market, because that will make you more attractive later on.

It’s much more expensive than people think. If you think you’re going to get a premium to go and work in Asia then don’t bother going. Instead, candidates should focus on what the job content and responsibility is.


Richard Whaley

Richard Whaley

Richard Whaley Senior consultant (luxury market) Hudson Walker

The jobs market in Dubai is thriving. There are plenty of opportunities across the fashion sector; buying, marketing, retail operations, retail sales and visual merchandising. All sectors are represented, from value retail to European luxury.

Most retail brands are operated as franchises or joint ventures with local businesses, so there is less need for design and technical expertise.

The challenge for candidates moving to Dubai is one of adjustment – there is plenty of government red tape to navigate and of course the heat can be overwhelming. It is always assumed that living in Dubai means adhering to strict laws, but that isn’t the case – Dubai is built on respect.

The key with any move abroad is, do your research. Dubai isn’t for everyone, but there are many people who have moved ‘as an adventure’ and have settled.


Chantelle James

Chantelle James

Chantelle James Director Jivaro Recruitment

The market and roles are quite similar in Australia compared with the UK, however, one of the big differences is the climate. This effects the planning of clothing ranges for national retailers in Australia. For example, the north of the country enjoys year-round tropical temperatures with the south having more defined seasons. Overall the pace of life is less frantic than that found in the UK and there is a strong work/life balance ingrained in the Australian psyche.

The main piece of advice I would give to someone wanting to make the jump from UK to Oz is to hurry up, summer is coming. You won’t regret the move when you see the sun shining outside your office window.

UK training and experience is highly regarded throughout the industry and therefore all disciplines are in demand.

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