The Spanish fashion industry is made up of around 19,000 companies. Ranking fifth in Europe, following Italy, Germany, the UK and France, and accounting for 2.9 percent of the national GDP and 4.3 percent of all employment in Spain.
This means that those who decide to work in the fashion sector, have a wide variety of options both in Spain, not to mention, the rest of the world. However, despite the variety of other sectors, there is a large majority, when it comes to choosing their career, who are seduced by the appeal of working in fashion design.
FashionUnited would like to share the experiences of three young people who have just graduated and are taking their first steps out on the fashion job market.
Carmen Del Toro is 24 years old, and graduated from the Seville Fashion Institute, a Centre for Higher Artistic Education in Design specialising in Fashion and Graphic Design. She has done two internships, one as part of her studies at the emerging Italian brand Defaïence, and a second, extracurricular internship with Iris Van Herpen, the Dutch fashion designer known for fusing technology with the traditional craftsmanship of Haute Couture.
"Despite the long hours, I was doing a job that I loved, and I felt that I was being given more responsibility as time went on. You see the results of what you are doing day after day and that keeps you motivated to keep going".
Del Toro said that during her internship she had the opportunity to work on the digital part of the designs, which allowed her to get to know a specialisation that she loved and in which she has gained experience that is currently motivating her to apply for positions where she can continue to grow within the field.
When it comes to her internships, she explained that she faced more or less the same conditions, but that in The Netherlands the workload and responsibility was much more intense. As she was working for a Haute Couture label, she was directly involved in the brand's collection for the Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris. One thing she has noticed the most is that there are many more job opportunities in the Netherlands. "In general I have seen that they trust young people, especially if you compare it with Spain," Del Toro said.
Julia González studied with Carmen at the aforementioned school in Seville and they later worked together at Defaïence, an internship experience in which they both share the idea that, although they were more focused on the design of the collections, they were able to participate in an interdisciplinary way in all the brand's processes.
A few months ago, Julia decided to launch a series of projects of her own - such as her own firm, GONA - something she considers to have been fundamental for her personal development, but which "companies do not really value when they see it on a CV, González said.
Too many years of experience and vacancies "filled through networking"
Julia González believes that looking for a job in the field of fashion design can be "frustrating" for recent graduates, as companies tend to ask for many years of experience and most vacancies, "are filled by networking contacts," she said,
She feels that she meets the requirements for many positions, and that she has gained experience from a cross-disciplinary perspective, but that no one has offered her the opportunity to prove it. This has led her to decide to continue her training through a Master's degree in 3D design and metaverse, a programme that is in high demand today, while she tries to find an internship, "a paid one, if possible", that she can combine with her postgraduate studies.
Del Toro believes, for her part, that there are opportunities for recent graduates, but that the sector is also highly competitive today. "You have to work hard and be constantly moving, speaking different languages is essential. Don't be afraid to apply for positions with a lot of responsibilities even if you have little experience", she advises young fashion graduates, explaining that, although she personally has not had experience in "the job of her dreams", she has learned something from each job and feels like she is one step closer to the place she wants to get to.
On this last point, she agrees with González, who shared how "I didn't think I would have certain first-hand experiences so quickly, but I also thought I would be working by now and this hasn't been the case because when you finish studying you need to do some searching first, in order to find what you like and that's where the frustration of not being hired in what you've studied stems from. It would be a great help, especially at the beginning," she said
She believes that the higher education years "not only fail to prepare us for rejection, but they also don't prepare us to know how to apply for a job. If your aim is to be an entrepreneur, they don't teach you anything at the business level. In addition, in the autonomous region of Andalusia, unlike in other parts of Spain, our design studies are not considered equivalent to a university degree, and this sometimes closes doors".
“For me, having to create my own brand was a reality check as I felt I wasn't properly prepared in many respects.”
Lucía completed her studies in Fashion Design and after working for several years as an assistant in a clothing shop, in order to make some money she could save up, she started her own brand, Sissú, to which she dedicates herself full time. She creates unique designs for her clients, for a variety of events, focusing mainly on guests and the world of flamenco. Her atelier is located in the city of Dos Hermanas, Seville.
Lucía Monge says that during her internship she experienced a way of understanding fashion that she was not aware existed, which prompted her to set up her own business using the experience gained after working backstage for different fashion brands, as well as at different fashion shows, presenting collections that she has since sold successfully. Her last job was as an assistant at the Dior cruise fashion show in Seville.
If she could also make the profession "suit her own needs", she says she would love to continue with the clothing line she has started: "creating and designing exclusive clothes for my clients, as I love connecting with them, getting inside their heads and fusing their tastes with mine, always adding my own personal touch to each design", the young designer said, although she would like to launch guest collections and a streetwear line in the future.
Monge tells FashionUnited that she doesn't feel that the education system has fully prepared her for the job market, because once she finished her studies in Fashion Design, she had to continue her education through different courses and do a lot of research to find out how to create her own brand from a legal point of view.
For her part, Carmen del Toro thinks that the education system "could benefit from offering a little more training in the digital field". "Many brands work with advanced programmes that never came up in my syllabus and I think it is a great opportunity for new graduates because digitalisation is something that is still relatively new which can be a real asset to our CVs and open the door to a lot of opportunities for young graduates,” she remarked.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.ES and has been translated and edited from Spanish into English by Veerle Versteeg.