Defining Your Path in the Fashion Industry

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing two very different women with two very different (and yet equally successful) paths in the fashion industry. My first stop was the legendary museum at FIT where I chatted with the museum’s director and curator, Valerie Steele.  I then spent some time with Vicki Tiel, a fashion designer celebrating her 50+ years in the fashion business. We will bring you all the impressive career details of these two women in upcoming videos, however, as we introduce our most recent video post, I am reminded of the many paths designers can take in the world of fashion. Finding Your Sketching Voice – Part 3 is ready for you to view and along with it, a few pieces of advice I picked up from my interviews last week.

First, keep an open mind. You may have your heart set on becoming a “fashion designer,” but realize that the options in the fashion industry are limitless!  There may be careers out there that you have yet to discover – like fashion museum curator, perhaps? From pattern makers and sample sewers to illustrators, journalists and stylists, you have a long list of ways to “be” in the fashion industry.

Next, trust your talents. Discover your strengths and acknowledge what might be better left to someone else. Then, be bold in pursuing your career. If Valerie Steele can carve out a fashion history program for herself at Yale University, you can define your path to success!

Go with the (current) flow. Or better yet, get ahead of it. In her 50+ years in the fashion industry, Vicki Tiel has designed costumes for movies, collaborated with Elizabeth Taylor, developed the couture client services at Bergdorf Goodman, owns a boutique in Paris and sells to the mass market on HSN in the United States. A valuable skill in the fashion industry is the ability to see a need and adjust your business to meet the demand, or better yet, create the demand.

Finally, remember fashion is a journey – you never know where today’s mistake/success/chance meeting will lead you tomorrow. On this note, try out one of our videos you may not otherwise view today. You may discover there is a budding fashion illustrator just waiting to map that pose on the page.

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.