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The fashion industry is one of the largest employers in many countries around the world. The United States and France are two such countries. In the United States the industry is typically based in New York and Los Angeles. In Canada the fashion industry employs a staggering number of people in the City of Toronto. In fact, the Toronto Fashion Incubator was started by the City to assist with the nurturing of talented Canadian designers to help keep the fashion industry flourishing in the city.
Primary Market Segment: The Textile Industry
The textile industry employs technically skilled people whose knowledge and abilities range from extremely scientific to the creative and artistic to production and sales.
A dyer is a textile chemist who has a comprehensive knowledge base about the application of different dyes and colours and their interaction with different fibres.
A converter oversees the change of greige goods (grey goods) or unfinished fabric into finished textiles purchased by both the apparel manufacturing and retail distribution levels of the industry.
A production manager is responsible for understanding, coordinating and managing every phase of textile manufacturing including plant operations and staff management.
Textile sales representatives serve different markets within the different markets/segments/levels of the industry..
Secondary Market Segment: Apparel Production and Manufacturing
Manufacturing is essentially the heart of the fashion industry with career and job opportunities that range from designer to patternmaker, production manager, quality controller, and again manufacturers' sales representatives.
Within all levels of the industry, you will find that position titles are often repeated.
Tertiary Market: Retail Distribution
Retailing is defined as the business of buying goods from wholesale markets (textile industry and manufacturing levels) or producing goods, such as store name brands, and selling these good to a specific consumer market.
In Canada retail distribution happens via the traditional department store such as the Hudson's Bay Company, the big box retailer such as Costco, the retail chain such as Le Chatêau, the independent retailer whose focus is a niche market, and establishments such as Wal-Mart.
The education and skill set of people employed at this level is as varied as the other two levels of the industry. Job possibilities vary from buyer to product developer, store manager to fashion director and quality controller. The number of people employed and breadth of career and job possibilities is related to the size of the operation and the services they are prepared to offer to their customers
The business of fashion requires that each level of the industry have the most current information and data in order to develop both short and long term goals.
Industry consulting companies step in to meet such a need. Typically a consulting firm employs a variety of industry specialists. For example, resident buyers, reporting services, fashion forecasters, and trend reporters typically consists of the consultant portion of the industry.
Fashion communications offers various employment possibilities within both print and broadcast media.
As well as a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the fashion industry, people employed in fashion communications must have sophisticated visual, written, and verbal communication skills. They must also be able to communicate their ideas in a meaningful manner at all levels of the industry.
Programs such asProject Runway Canada, Project Runway, Fashion Television, Fashion File, and America's Next Top Model are examples of broadcast media which have given the viewing public a glimpse into the world and business of fashion and presented only a few career opportunities in a world that offers a multitude of jobs and professions.
Post Secondary Education
Depending on your career aspirations you may require a university degree or a college diploma.
For example, in the textile market segment of the industry a university degree is typically required.
In other areas, such as fashion communication, a university degree or college diploma is needed. To gain knowledge about industry education requirements you need to undertake research to determine what post secondary education requirements are needed for the fashion career you wish to pursue.
As a student in the province of Ontario, it is interesting to note that while there are many diploma programs offered across the province, there are only two schools that offer degree programs in the area of fashion - Ryerson University and Humber College. It is also interesting to note that while enrollment in fashion programs has increased dramatically over the past decade in colleges and universities all over the world, universities in the province of Ontario, who traditionally offered a clothing and textile focus, have systematically eliminated such programs.