Only a few can really let rip

INDEPENDENT CAREERS: Most fashion work is for the high street.

Sean McGowan, a student at the Royal College of Art, is the latest graduate to be snapped up by a Paris fashion house. The talented McGowan had worked with Karl Lagerfeld as a student and will now work on the designer's label and for Chanel. He follows a stream of UK fashion graduates such as John Galliano at Dior, Alexander McQueen at Givenchy and Stella McCartney at Chloe who have stormed their way into high profile couture jobs.

More than 1,000 students from 37 colleges took part in BhS Graduate Fashion Week at the South Bank Centre in London last week. Scouts were out in force to sign up the best talent, though few will be as fortunate as McGowan.

"The Stella McCartney's and Alexander McQueen's happen very rarely," says Professor Ian Griffiths of Kingston University. "We are trying to provide jobs for sound designers. Companies like Marks & Spencer and Calvin Klein are the important employers in fashion, not the haute couture houses. If people get on to a fashion course with the aim of doing that then they may be barking up the wrong tree."

Louise Wilson, MA course director at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, agrees. "There are those such as Alexander McQueen who get high profile jobs but most go out into industry and work for Donna Karan or Marks & Spencer," she says.

The prospect of a job in fashion is pulling in more students than ever before, but competition for places on fashion courses is fierce. The London College of Fashion has an average of 600 applicants for every 40 places.

Colin Renfrew, fashion course leader at Ravensbourne College of Design, says: "We only take around 30 students a year and we are fortunate that within six to 12 months of graduating, 85 to 90 per cent are in full-time employment in the fashion industry. We have not expanded the way that some other courses have, but have kept numbers down to enable us to pick the best potential students."

Of the students on Central St Martins MA course, around 87 per cent each year find a job in the fashion industry. "The employment record has been pretty good and I'm thinking of doing the course myself if it could get me a job at Gucci," Wilson says.

Not all fashion graduates become designers. Some end up in fashion related fields such as fashion buying, public relations and journalism.

But increasingly what all fashion graduates have in common, whether they are concentrating on designing or on becoming a fashion publicist, is that they have at some point during their course come into contact with the real world of fashion through an industrial placement.

Kingston University has had a relationship for the past seven years with Dewhirst, a company which produces clothes for firms such as Marks and Spencer.

"Industrial placements help students to understand their market and to understand the customer," Griffiths says. "It's not about design egotism. It also helps students to understand how to work within a large organisation."

And it not only helps students. Nigel Luck, fashion course director at the University of Westminster, says: "Industrial placements can also help the companies taking part. Not only can they spot talent, but fashion students can keep them abreast of what's exciting and new and can provide a fresh eye."

Michael Terry, Dewhirst's design and product development director, says: "We have built a long-term relationship with Kingston University and we know and understand the culture there. We get to know the students over three years and during their placements can assess how well they would fit in with the organisation, if it is the sort of work they are totally suited to and if they are team players. We generally take on two to three Kingston graduates every year." Building up a long term working relationship with potential employees is "much less of a risk than trawling around the degree shows and thinking, great show, great dress, and giving someone a job on the strength of it".

While last week provided graduates with a chance to let their imaginations run wild,in the coming months many will put away the outrageous hats, the aluminium foil skirts and Star Trek outfits and knuckle down to high street work

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam