THE fashion industry employs well over 200,000 people in Australia – there’s much more to it than just design! There are design assistants, garment technician­s, pattern-makers, graders, textile and graphic designers, a myriad of production roles, plus buyers, merchandis­ers, brand managers and product planners. There are lots of technical roles, too, like cutters, sample sewers and machinists, and then there’s fashion PR! It takes many people with many skills to see a range through to fruition.

BEING friendly and having a can-do attitude will take you far in the fashion world. There are lots of big egos, so the hard-working, friendly people stand out! I really believe in interning while you’re at university or TAFE. You can get vast knowledge and build up amazing contacts, and become part of the fashion community – it’s a great foot in the door. Take time to develop your aesthetic and style, and really think about your product offering. It’s a crowded world in fashion: what makes you stand out, and why do people want to buy your products over so many others?

AS A self-employed designer, I didn’t draw a wage from Kuwaii for the first three years. I was working a job two days a week to support myself and running Kuwaii in every spare second. It was hard, and a sacrifice working for free essentiall­y, but I really loved my work, and I believed in it, so I decided to give it my best shot. The industry as a whole can be really well-paid or really not. It depends on the role, the individual’s experience, and the size of the business.

THE fashion industry is inspiring, fast-paced and super-fun, but the cycle of constant change can be demanding, too. Right now, the biggest issues are sustainabi­lity and a movement against fast fashion and over-production, plus size inclusivit­y, diversity and ethical manufactur­ing. You need to be resilient and motivated with a great work ethic, a creative eye for colour and proportion, and an ability to forward-think and plan – but holding a finished item and seeing all the work, care and love that has gone into it fills you with a real sense of pride.

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