From consumer psychologists to data scientists…?
There are few sectors of the economy that offer as wide and interesting a range of career opportunities as fashion. When it comes to working in the Fashion industry, it seems like there are only a few pathways in the business, such as becoming an editor, designer, buyer, stylist or photographer. But in reality, these functions represent a small portion of the overall industry. The fashion industry has significantly evolved over the last 10 years and emerging trends, such as the evolving store, changing consumer preference, a heightened need for radical transparency and more, is shifting companies’ priorities and the roles they are hiring for.
- 3D Printing Engineer
For fashion Designers, one of the most challenging aspects of the business is the manufacturing process. The adoption of 3D printing, however, would make manufacturing quicker, easier and cheaper, lowering the barrier to entry for emerging designers across the globe. Even major players like Chanel and Iris Van Herpen are experimenting with the medium to print designs that would otherwise be impossible to manufacture.
“A Job in 3D printing bridges two areas: being able to execute the technological aspect of the business as well as the creative vision,” says Naomi Kaempfer, Creative Director at Stratasys, which manufactures 3D printers and materials, and works with companies like Safilo, the world’s second largest eyewear producer, and Iris Van Herpen to produce prototypes and parts directly from 3D CAD files.
Indeed, 3D printing will play a bigger part in fashion as it turns conventional manufacturing on its head. Instead of starting with some fabric and removing sections to create a desired shape or design, 3D printing begins with nothing and only adds material as the production process unfolds.
- Consumer Psychologist
Over the centuries, clothing has evolved from a practical necessity to become an influential ‘tell’ of our personalities. This has led to the rise of a niche group of industry professionals – the fashion psychologist – who applies psychological theories to what we wear, understanding that our clothing choices impact not only our own emotions, but also those of the people we interact with.
“If you understand how human perception works on a neuroscientific level and how people choose clothing based on their psychological makeup, you can create an incredibly effective strategy, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience and the bottom line,” says Kate Nightingale, Head consumer psychologist and founder of Style psychology, a consultancy firm that works with clients such as retail chain Debenhams and menswear brand Thomas pink, to provide insight on why people buy what they buy.
To become a fashion psychologist, or any psychologist for that matter, you should complete extensive psychological studies.
- Data Scientist
Advanced machine learning has become a more integral part of the fashion industry, as brands are increasingly focused on anticipating and predicting what shoppers might be looking for. According to McKinsey, a retailer using big data could increase its operating margin by more than 60 per cent. As a result, today’s companies are moving away from using simple statistical analysis and using AI and deep learning to predict and personalize recommendations at an individual level.
Dubbed the sexiest job of the 21st century by Harvard Business review, the role of the data scientist was only coined in 2008 by DJ Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher, then the respective leads of data and analytic at Linkedin and Facebbok. Today, thousands of data scientists work at both fashion startups and well-established companies, using statistical machine learning and other quantitative methods of gaining data-driven insight into consumer behavior.
Certainly for an online fashion aggregator like Lyst, which catalogues 13 million products from 15, 000 designers and introduces 60, 000 new products each week, it’s not feasible for a team of individual to manage content of this magnitude. “When you have a million pairs of shoes, how do you decide which shoes to show to a user? When a user searches for ‘red Valentino dress’ do they want a red dress by Valentino or a dress by Red Valentino? Data scientists can answer these questions. If you want to scale the business, data scientists can help automate what is normally done by a human.” The most common backgrounds for those who are interested in pursuing this career path are computer science and physics.
- Fabric Research and Development.
Over the past few years, several major apparel giants from Nike to Lululemon have been sourcing or developing new technologies to create a new generation of materials that enhance the style, performance and sustainability of their product. Materials are at the heart of the industry, says Logan, technical director of raw material development at Lululemon, which has been building its reputation as a top-quality athletic apparel maker after bouncing back from a consumer backlash in 2013, sparked by a defective product ($98 yoga pants that went sheer when the wearer bent over).
Major breakthroughs in fabric development occurred in 1958, when Lycra hit the market, followed by Gore-tex which disrupted the outdoor and performance-wear sector. But recent years have also seen a wave of new innovation, such as the emergence of wearable technology and smart materials, which have been explored by companies including Raplh Lauren. While these fabrics may still be in their infancy, it is a fast growing market with new capabilities and is sure to play a more significant role in Fashion, particularly given the emergence of the athleisure sector, which has led to a greater interest in performance materials.
- Sustainability Expert
Many Fashion companies are prioritizing sustainability and putting sustainable business models at the heart of their organization. This means taking how they produce their products more heavily into consideration and hiring sustainability consultants whose sole function is to ensure that the company is doing whatever they can to integrate sustainable sourcing and environmentally friendly practices.
“As consumers become more conscious with their buying decisions, the demand for the companies to be able to demonstrate radical transparency and measurable improvement in both environmental and social impacts of their supply chains will be more and more critical,” -says Cantu.
Adidas, Kering and H&M were the fashion brands among corporate Knights 100 most sustainable corporations for 2016. There’s a recognized need for sustainability, especially if you are a large business. We are at a point where there’s nowhere to hide. You can’t make excuses like it’s not within my control or I didn’t know about it.
- Personal stylist
Personal styling was once reserved for Hollywood starlets, affluent socialites and top executives. But as e-commerce has become a dominant way to shop – 54 percent of consumers worldwide shop online weekly, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers 2016 total retail survey –tech savvy retail companies are trying to democratize styling, just as Uber has granted everyone a private driver.
Thread, founded in June 2012, has only eight stylists, but has helped thousands of clients sharpen their wardrobes through online communication and a powerful algorithm.
A good personal stylist has good emotional intelligence and a motivation to help people, rather than wanting to make it big, in the business. The most important quality is taste. Taste is something you can’t teach, it’s innate. Regardless of whether a stylist has just graduated or has been in the industry for five years, taste should be evident in their work.
SOURCE; The business of Fashion
Written by : Eromosele Patrick Eidusi
Ig: @pathrik_ T: @_pathrik