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How to be a Menswear designer at a premium high street retailer

Advice from Alice Smith, Director at Smith & Pye Fashion Consultancy

The first thing an employer looks for is design talent. This is the number one criterion on which we assess designers at Smith & Pye.

A degree in fashion design is crucial, preferably from one of the best fashion colleges. The next step is for graduates to get a good job in a blue-chip company, which doesn’t necessarily have to be at the top end or luxury market, as long as the designer is getting solid, hands-on experience.

Attitude and character are very important requisites. Every employer wants enthusiastic, proactive designers on their team. In a recent conversation, the creative director of a high-profile high street name told me that personality superseded all else for him when recruiting a designer. In a creative role, ideas are paramount and it follows that character plays an undeniable part.

Fashion never stops and it is the designer’s business to have good market knowledge and keep up with the spirit of the times. In the majority of jobs, the designer will be expected to contribute in matters of planning and strategy. The portfolio is also key and must be well presented and up to date, aspirational and – in terms of the job applied for – relevant.

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