While most of us would love to be a male model, working in the fashion industry is about more than strutting down the catwalk, folding jeans in Topman, or sitting behind a computer writing about how good other people look. (Ahem.) It takes hundreds of diverse jobs to keep the world spinning so stylishly – including unique and unusual jobs you might not have known existed.
Between them, the seven people below define trends, inspire the way we all dress and are even designing next-generation fabrics that will change the way we all think about clothes. They’ve also turned a love of menswear into something that pays the bills. These are some of the coolest jobs in fashion.
The Sneaker Authenticator
Bryan Mora is the head sneaker authenticator with Sneaker Con, one of the world’s biggest conventions for trainers
“My first job was in retail, so I’ve been working around sneakers since I was 16. You get into sneaker authenticating by studying the details of shoes.
“In my team, we middle-man transactions and every day we receive shoes from collectors. If they’re legit, we tag them. But if they’re fake we let the buyer and the seller know – sometimes the seller doesn’t even know they’re selling a fake – and help them get their money back.
“Serious collectors want their very expensive shoes tagged. In this culture, it’s a big thing that other people know your stuff is legit.
“The process of authenticating is looking at the material, the stitching, the details under sole, how the shoe was structured, also what type of smell the shoe has. I spend a lot of time sniffing shoes. The leather and glue have a unique scent. Sometimes you can spot the toxic smell of a fake right away.
“When a shoe comes out, the fake comes out right alongside it. And fakes are like an evolving process. These guys are getting smarter and getting better equipment and materials. Whatever they messed up with on the first batch they’ll fix it on the second batch.
“We do onsite authentications at Sneaker Con shows too – we always advise getting shoes authenticated before purchasing at the convention.
“I’ve been in the position multiple times where I’ve had to tell a buyer the shoes they’ve bought are not legitimate. The most recent was off-white Jordan 1s – they spent $1,000-plus. I’m a sneakerhead myself, so I just enjoy the product. With a shoe that’s very limited, I’m like, ‘Damn, I can’t believe I’m seeing and holding this right now!’”
For more visit Sneakercon.com
The Style Influencer
“An influencer is someone that has grown an audience across his social media platforms – be it YouTube, Instagram or Twitter – and uses it to share their passion, be it for fashion, fitness, food. And most importantly, they get paid to do so. Truth be told, I prefer to go by ‘content creator’ than ‘influencer’.
“I’m primarily a YouTube content creator, so my day will vary greatly from an Instagram influencer – a lot of it is making the content, editing and uploading. When it comes to branded work [promoting clothes for specific brands], it’s 50 per cent emails, and the other 50 per cent will be the ‘fun’ side – press gigs, parties, red carpets.
“It’s still work – clients expect you to deliver content like a boss at your office would expect you to complete a project. And building and engaging followers is a massive part of what we do, because at the end of the day, without the followers we’re nothing.
“There are people earning a comfortable six figures salary for being influencers. It’s a slow grind, but it can be done. You just have to be smart about it and expand your skill set – don’t just rely on being paid by brands to post about their products.
“Sometimes a brand will only have a budget to work with a certain amount of influencers which might make it competitive, but it also keeps each on their toes to produce the best work they can (our best ‘work’ means posting better pictures.)
“I was into clothes before I was on social media, so I always said a larger than average wardrobe. Now with it being my full-time job, it’s gone to crazy amounts.”
The Textile Scientist
Dr Ajoy Sarkar is a textile chemist and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York
“My area as a textile chemist is looking at fibres, materials, dyes, colourations, and different kinds of performance finishes that are applied to textiles.
“I’ve been involved with research into protective clothing, such as working out how to design a textile that’s protective against microbes or UV rays. Also ‘farmed fashion’. Just like organic food, people want to go back to nature – natural fibres, natural processes, and bio-processing chemicals that are more friendly to the environment. The whole industry wants to move to more sustainability.
“Changing trends don’t change the chemistry of a fibre. What does change is how we process a fibre. For example, with the athleisure trend, the question was, ‘How can we process fibres to have all the performance properties but are still comfortable and breathable? If someone comes to us with an idea of some clothing they want to make, we figure out how to do it.
“Another area of textile science is smart clothing. The tech is there for clothing that can measure your pulse or heartbeat. The thing preventing it being adopted on a wide scale is the cost.
“But imagine that you could buy a shirt that can do any of the computer functions your phone does now, or harvest energy from the sun, store it, and then powers your phone. Now students who want to major in textiles will have to take some course in electrical engineering to go into this field.”
For more info visit Fitnyc.edu
The Movie Costume Designer
Sinéad O’Sullivan is a movie costume designer whose credits include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Dark Knight Rises, and Black Mirror. Sinéad also founded the Costume Directory, a resource for designers to source ethical and sustainable fabrics and clothing
“There are many different avenues to becoming a costume designer and numerous job roles within a film costume department that require different skill sets. I have worked in film for 10 years as a buyer, assistant costume designer, and costume designer.
“You need to have an equal interest in fashion, history, and storytelling – and on a practical level, it’s important to be able to sew, draw, and communicate efficiently with a spectrum of people and personalities.
“Broadly, a costume designer’s job is to collaborate with the director, writer, production designer, and actors to realise the visual look. It’s hard not to be affected by contemporary tastes, even though you might not notice its influence at the time. When doing a period film, you often have to negotiate modern tastes with creating something true to the period.
“No two films are ever the same, so there is a lot of variety – a job can be nine weeks to eight months depending on budget and scale – and I often get to research different times in history. I love sourcing unique and unusual fabrics and clothing, and working with incredibly creative tailors, knitters, and embroiders who turn ideas into a reality.
“A typical filming day will see you getting to the filming location at some horrific hour and establishing the key looks for that day’s shooting. The rest will involve preparing costumes, fittings with actors, and following up with buyers, tailors, and set costumers. A typical day is about 12-14 hours long. It tends to be on the long commute home when you start to question your life choices…”
The Watch Customiser
George Bamford is the founder of Bamford London, specialist watch customisers and hub for personalised luxury items. He has also launched his own line of watches – the Mayfair and all-new Mayfair Sport
“This job is about client demand – every luxury brand in the world offers bespoke in some way or another. We have around two clients come in every day, and we design their watch – a customisation of, say, a Tag Heuer or another brand. We’ll look at different designs and colours we can use. Or if they want a watch for their boat, maybe we’ll add a little picture of the boat. Then six weeks later we deliver the watch. Everything’s mass-market, but we care about the individual.
“I’m on a plane every single week – my wheelie bag is probably my best friend – travelling to meet clients and dealers and looking at how I can expand my dealer network. I also see everything that’s going through our design process, and I’ll probably micromanage on design.
“I stripped my first watch in 1996 when I was just a kid, and I’ve been customising other people’s brands since. But last year I took the plunge and built my own watch – The Mayfair. When I started, the key skill was curiosity. Why can’t we do it? Or why not build my own watch?
“This is my own brand. I design other things too – I have an obsession with desk accessories, so I made a holder for 300 pencils. It’s the ultimate desk accessory. These are just things that I always think I’d just really love that in my life – it’s everything I want myself.
“I’ve always been obsessed with style, so if I’ve made any impact on men’s fashion I’d think, ‘Hell yes, that’s awesome!’”
The Mayfair Sport is available at Mr Porter from 15 May
Laurence Joslin is the brand director of product and marketing (Europe, Middle East, and Asia) for New Era Caps
“I manage all product development and marketing for the EMEA region. I’m responsible for how the brand looks across EMEA, from product to consumer interaction.
“I wish trend spotting was simple and in one place, but this is, at times, an ad hoc process. We take into account many areas – retailer feedback, consumers, trend forecasting sites, catwalk looks, competitor brands, and the wider industry. Most trends are not relevant for our sector, but the key is to see them all and react to the ones which we think will apply – a look, colour, fabric, application techniques, trims, embellishments and many more.
“You need enthusiasm, an eye for colour, but mostly knowing who our consumer is and understanding what works and what doesn’t. We must understand our brand and its consumer spending habits.
“Two days are never the same, but as a director of both product and marketing, most of my time is spent with teams reviewing plans, product, launches, marketing creative as well as lots of market travel to stay on top of what’s happening on the high street.
“I love to brainstorm creative campaigns as well as shaping the brand as it approaches its centenary year in 2020. Through the projects we work on, I’m also in regular contact with influencers, footballers, and musicians, which is always a rewarding part of my role.
“Trendspotting massively important to modern fashion. You can only survive on unique ideas a few times. You have to be in tune with the market, with your own angle on it. It’s vital to have your own take on all of it, so you don’t just look identical.”
The Menswear Buyer
Lee Goldup is a buyer with London fashion retailer Browns.
“As a ‘ready to wear’ buyer my focus is buying clothing from brands around the world. This ranges from luxury designeru to young creative, contemporary and sport. The job consists of a lot of planning, predicting, and strategising, and comes with a strong element of risk taking.
“There are many routes into buying. From studying it at university, to working on the shop floor, to interning. The most important skills to are having a good eye for trends, creativity, commerciality, and what people are actually wearing – plus, being able to predict the difference between fast trends and those with more longevity. Having the end consumer in mind is crucial. ‘Who is the guy for this?’ is a question I ask myself repeatedly.
“The coolest part of my job is getting to work with designers I love and travelling the world.
“I spend a lot of time researching, but often do this without even thinking because it’s something that interests me and that I’m passionate about. In other words, going down a social media wormhole for hours and unconsciously taking on board loads of fashion-related information is pretty normal for me. I’d be lying if I said that a lot of trend spotting wasn’t done via Instagram.
“Browns is a British fashion institution who have been pioneering fashion in London for the past 49 years. What I choose to buy from our current designers, the collaborations I facilitate, and the new designers I choose to add to our brand mix all impact on how Browns is perceived by the outside world. The overall brand image is something that I take very seriously.”