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How to Become a Fashion Creative Director
Fashion creative directors set the creative tone and vision for design houses, retailers and publications. Experience in diverse aspects of the fashion industry are required. That experience prepares you for a high profile career that can be rewarding and lucrative.
Fashion and Design Experience
Make your entry into the fashion industry with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design or Fashion. After graduation, plan to spend 10 years gaining professional experience in the United States and/or abroad in fashion writing, design, marketing, photography, film, events and entertainment. Compile a portfolio of your work and professional recommendations as you go, along with a resume that is intentionally worded to showcase the diversity of your experience in the fashion industry.
Fashion creative directors manage large teams and multiple departments at once, so they are required to have a solid background in management and project completion, as well as a keen focus on profit and the bottom line. Consider earning a Master of Business Administration in Fashion Management, and then gain work experience successfully leading teams in the clothing management industry. Branch out into design management positions and begin to hone your creative vision as you lead a team of other designers. This gives you important experience in seeing a creative vision through to completion, step by step.
Marketing and Branding
In our social media-driven culture, gone are the days when creative directors were primarily designers. Today, fashion directors must build their own personal brands, impressive social media presence and following, as well as possess a thorough knowledge of the inner workings of social media marketing. Most designers and publications hire well established media authorities to represent them. Stay current with fashion trends, especially as presented during fashion week in New York, Paris, Milan and London. Begin building your social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and through a blog if possible. Invest in training and classes that offer you the inside scoop on branding and organically gaining followers.
Hiring for creative director positions in the fashion industry is highly competitive and often publicized. Among qualified candidates, it may come down to who is well known and has the right connections. As early as your undergraduate studies, begin building contacts with mentors and leaders in the fashion industry. Gain experience through internships, especially those in large fashion houses and publications. Be helpful where you can, and willing to learn from those who have more experience than you do. Likewise, reach back to those starting out as you gain your footing in the industry to offer them the same help. Surround yourself with a tribe of successful fashion professionals, and watch your creative director dreams become your reality.
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- Though the job outlook is reasonably good for creative fashion directors, according to FashionSchools, expect competition to be fierce. The more experience and education you have, and the stronger your portfolio, the better your chances of becoming a fashion creative director.
Anne Kinsey is an entrepreneur and business pioneer, who has ranked in the top 1% of the direct sales industry, growing a large team and earning the title of Senior Team Manager during her time with Jamberry. She is the nonprofit founder and executive director of Love Powered Life, as well as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and freelance writer who has written for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bizfluent, the Houston Chronicle and Our Everyday Life. Anne works from her home office in rural North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three children.