Three of the industry’s leading lights reveal their secrets for career success.
James Spreckley - Creative director, Reiss
Understand your personal creative viewpoint early. This should develop from studying design, art, literature, music and film. Having a solid platform, such as a degree, on which to build your creative - with passionate interests and experiences in a multitude of avenues -will broaden your aesthetic viewpoint.
Learn to problem solve and understand the ability to find solutions. Also try to establish commercial understanding to lead your design to an audience. Transfer learning among your contemporaries so that teamwork becomes part of your natural rhythm, because this will make management easier later in life.
You are only as good as the people that help you get there. Anything you do, do it with pride as if it’s the last thing that will be asked of you.
Fiona Lambert - Brand director, George at Asda
From a very early age I had set my sights on a career in fashion. I was probably about 11 when I first made that decision and every choice along the way has been made with that in mind. So firstly I would say be passionate about what you want to do and strive to work towards it in any way you can. Speak to people, be interested and try to soak up as much experience in as many different areas of the industry as possible.
Be brave. Not being afraid to take risks in your job is important. It can be scary but you have to be prepared to put your head above the parapet and believe in yourself and your decisions. Sometimes in business it is sink or swim and I always encourage people not to
be afraid of making mistakes, because they’re a great learning curve and can contribute hugely to your success.
Never lose the passion. I love my job. I’m very enthusiastic about both product and our customers so I look forward to what each day has in store.
No day is like another so I like to treat every day like it’s my first day in the job [with a] renewed vision for it every morning.
Reaching the top takes time and a lot of hard work, so you have to be flexible, open to long hours and be willing to start from the bottom to get your foot through the door.
Jo Hooper - Head of womenswear, John Lewis
If you discover you have passion for fashion and think that’s going to be the career you want to pursue, then you really want to get on it early and start while you are studying.
You should work out which avenue you want to go down and which retailer feels like a good fit for you. It used to be about just walking up and down the high street to find out about retailers but now it’s about signing up to their emails and thinking about how they communicate.
Progressing in fashion goes back to attitude. Whenever we are recruiting, it’s all about attitude. If a person has the right attitude then everything else can be learnt with good training. Always be asking questions - the moment you stop you’re grinding to a halt. Looking back, I probably would have been braver in the company choices I’ve made. I would have perhaps thought about the cultures of companies that would have worked for me sooner than I did and I probably would have made the move to London sooner.