25 Best Business of Fashion Careers

Business of fashion careers: Pursuing a career in the fashion industry can be exciting and rewarding. If you’re researching jobs in fashion, then it might be helpful to understand the qualifications and requirements of various positions.

In this article, we discuss common careers spanning all three main sectors of the fashion industry: sales, design and development.

Entering the world of fashion doesn’t mean you’ll need to sell clothing or become a designer. If you are a fashionista with an eye for trends, starting your own fashion-centric business can be extremely rewarding.

This industry offers a number of business ideas for fashion lovers — from personal stylists and fashion consultants to savvy salespeople putting out catchy t-shirt ideas.

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Business of fashion careers

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What does a career in fashion involve?

Fashion careers require creativity and an understanding of different types of clothing. The type of creativity used varies depending on the specific job. A fashion designer needs to be artistically creative, while a technical designer uses creativity in engineering. Most importantly, a passion for style is necessary to excel in the fashion industry.

Top Fashion Business Ideas

In this guide, we discuss a number of excellent small business ideas and opportunities for fashionistas of all stripes.

We’ve broken down each business to include startup costs, the skill level required to get into the business, and the earning potential for each field, to help you better determine what fashion business idea is right for you.

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Business of fashion careers


For those with retail experience, fashion know-how, and a love of well-crafted products, opening a leather business can be a fun and rewarding pursuit. It can also be a very flexible fashion business, lending itself well to online retail. A background in fashion or retail is a great advantage but is not required.

Startup costs will depend on the specifics of your business plan. If you plan to sell pre-crafted items from home, your primary cost will be developing your inventory. For those looking to open a storefront, costs will increase significantly by renting your space and keeping the shelves stocked.


For a self-starter who enjoys keeping up with trends, a t-shirt business can be an excellent online fashion business idea. Business owners should have both creative and artistic skills as well as technical know-how when it comes to choosing the best printing techniques. Some previous business experience is helpful, but not required.

Starting an online t-shirt business can have very little overhead, especially with so many high-quality print-on-demand services out there today. Most businesses can get started with little more than a few great design ideas. Many choose to remain entirely online, but some of the most successful t-shirt businesses have expanded into the retail market as well. While most businesses will remain small, some of the most successful ones are bringing in annual sales of over $100 million dollars.

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Business of fashion careers


A personal styling business is ideal for someone with previous experience in fashion, hair care, cosmetics, or a related field. While no formal training is required, an established network of potential clients can be very helpful in getting off the ground.

Fashionistas who already work in fields like broadcasting, cosmetology, or public relations will often have a leg up. You’ll also need to have excellent communication skills and enjoy working closely with people one-on-one.


Whether you have experienced the frustration of finding the right fit or have a passion for making fashion accessible to all, opening a plus-size clothing store can be a great business venture. No formal education is required, but a background in fashion and/or retail can be a great asset. You may even consider taking the IAP Career College’s Boutique Owner Certificate Course.

Startup costs can be substantial, with the average clothing boutique running between $50,000 to $150,000 to open. Space and inventory will account for the bulk of your expenses. To keep costs down, business owners should look for low-rent commercial space or consider specializing in a specific type of clothing to minimize inventory. Your business may remain small, but with a good deal of space to expand in the market, there is great potential for growth.

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Business of fashion careers


A purse business can be a good fit for fashion-loving people with a variety of backgrounds. You may have a keen eye for the next trend or retail experience in purse and handbag sales. Others may be looking to design their own bags to sell. Those with experience in fashion and/or retail will have a leg up, but a passion for the industry is vital.

Startup costs are high, with the average business owner investing at least $50,000 to get started. You can keep costs down early on by beginning your business online, but will still need to put a good deal of money into obtaining a solid inventory. Once you open a brick and mortar store, the location will be an essential part of your success. If you understand your target market and find the perfect location, a purse store can be a very profitable venture.


Starting a shoe line takes a good deal of vision and talent from a dedicated fashionista. Ideal candidates will have experience in both design and business management, to handle the many moving parts involved in designing, manufacturing, and selling shoes.

Getting a shoe line up and running will require a sizeable investment. A successful shoe line will require investing in high-quality materials and manufacturing. Costs will vary based on the types of shoes, the size of your operation, and your geographic location.

Business of fashion careers


For shoe lovers not ready or interested in taking the plunge into design, opening a shoe store can be a great way to get into the business. Shoe store owners should have an excellent eye for fashion and a strong business sense. Choosing a niche area like athletic or dress shoes can be a great way to focus your business and shape it around your personal interests or previous experience.

Startup costs for a shoe store can be high. If you’re planning to open a franchise, you should expect to invest at least $10,000. When you take into account marketing and inventory, early costs can reach above $60,000, with high-end stores costing much more. There is, however, good potential for growth. While many shoe stores remain local mainstays, the most successful have become national or even global brands.

See also: 5 Professional Marketing Jobs That Will Make You Fashionable


Starting your own sunglasses line can be a great way to break into the design field. The right owner will have an excellent eye for design and style. While no specialized knowledge is required, you should have a basic understanding of how your idea will go from concept to product. It is also important to follow safety guidelines for creating products with UV protection.

Startup costs will vary depending on your location and the type and style of products you intend to design and produce. This is a competitive industry, so finding a way to create unique products and a memorable business will help you succeed.

Business of fashion careers


If you are not interested in designing your own sunglasses but would like to tap into this market, opening your own sunglasses store is a great option. The ideal owner will have a strong eye for fashion and the ability to select inventory that sells. Previous sales experience can be extremely valuable as you begin to build your customer base.

Upfront expenses are largely dependent on your storefront location and the merchandise you choose to invest in. You can lower costs by running your business online or starting out with a small stand or kiosk before expanding into a larger space.


If you are a fashion lover with a talent for sewing, opening your own sewing business can be an excellent full or part-time venture. While this is best suited for those who already have a high skill level, there are a number of educational opportunities out there for fashionistas looking to learn the craft.

Because a sewing business can easily be operated from your home, the startup costs are generally fairly low. You may already have much of the equipment needed to begin and can integrate the cost of your materials into the price you charge your customers.

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Business of fashion careers

11. Sales associate

Primary duties: Sales associates help customers find the right product for them, complete transactions, restock merchandise and maintain a neat appearance in the retail store. They greet the guest as they enter the store, alert them of any current promotions and ask if they are shopping for anything in particular. If the customer is seeking a specific item, style or size, the sales associate will strive to find the best match.

Throughout the guest’s shopping experience, the sales associate can start a fitting room and suggest other items to go with the pieces the guest likes.

12. Merchandiser

Primary duties: Merchandisers are responsible for ensuring the right products are available in the right stores, at the right time, in the right quantities and set at the appropriate price. They can work in retail stores or for an apparel brand at the corporate level. Corporate merchandisers partner with designers and product developers to ensure the design lifecycle stays on track.

Merchandisers also work closely with designers to create a profitable product the customer will buy. If the profit margins become risky, the merchandiser may request changes to the style or review a possible retail price increase to ensure the brand remains profitable.

13. Stylist

Primary duties: Stylists are responsible for creating outfits and advising various ways to wear an article of clothing. A stylist can work for a clothing brand or individual clients. A brand’s stylist creates outfits for photo shoots to show the customer how to wear their clothes and accessories. Personal stylists work with clients to help them choose styles that flatter their body type and fit within their budget. The stylist must listen to the client’s desires and give them options that suit their needs. The stylist can suggest new styles or twists on the client’s current wardrobe to elevate their style.

Read on: Fashion to Figure: How to Dress for Your Body Type

Business of fashion careers

14. Public relations specialist

Primary duties: Public relations specialists who work for apparel brands create and maintain a positive brand and public image. They work with marketing specialists to plan events that raise consumer awareness and interest in the brand and product. The public relations specialist is also responsible for developing press releases and handling media inquiries. In a corporate environment, they may also plan employee events involving notable members of the public, speakers or performances.

15. Inventory planner

Primary duties: Inventory planners begin the apparel development cycle by determining the quantity required of various product types. They review current inventory levels, seasonal needs and geographical data to forecast the consumer demand for their product category. The inventory planner is also responsible for allocating and distributing merchandise to warehouses and stores across the country. Throughout the selling season, they track inventory levels and advise on product performance to their teams.

16. Account manager

Primary duties: Account managers are employed by companies that sell products to other entities, stores or businesses and work to build a relationship with them. They specialize in promoting their product to an entity instead of an individual and building a client portfolio. Accounts for a branded company often are for store or business uniforms, which could include service companies, banks and rental car companies. Some wholesale fashion companies sell their products to department stores and have account managers who develop and maintain the corporate relationship.

Read also: 15 Ideas For Designing Fashion Products

Business of fashion careers

17. Retail buyer

Primary duties: Retail buyers work in retail or department stores and choose the merchandise assortment available for customers to browse. They take the market demands, current style trends, price, quality and their customer’s shopping habits into consideration when selecting products to sell. The retail buyer is responsible for ensuring the store’s stock stays competitive and relevant to their customer’s needs. They also analyse buying patterns, forecast trends for their target market and develop plans to maintain inventory levels.

18. Fashion designer

Primary duties: Fashion designers use creativity to design new styles for their target customers. High-end fashion designers exercise greater creativity to develop innovative, original designs. Most fashion designers work in street fashion, where clothing is mass-produced at an affordable price point. These fashion designers gather inspiration from the previous season’s top sellers, runway shows and seasonal trends to design marketable styles for their customers. They choose colours and fabrics and design the number of tops, bottoms and dresses allotted by the inventory planning and merchandising teams.

19. Graphic designer

Primary duties: Graphic designers combine hand drawing and computer-aided design to create individual images that are printed on garments. Graphic designers have a strong sense of color and design cohesiveness and use these to develop visually-pleasing graphics. They primarily develop designs in CAD programs but can start by hand drawing and transferring it into the CAD software. Graphic designers also use creativity to create a feasible design. In production, they are often limited to eight colours and will save money by using fewer colours.

Read on: 35 Ways on How to make Fashion Designing Business More Profitable

Business of fashion careers

20. Textile designer

Primary duties: Textile designers hand illustrate or use CAD software to create designs that can be printed on or woven into a fabric. Textile designs are developed as repeats to cover the fabric yardage with the design. Textile designers can work as freelancers or for a company, such as a fabric manufacturer or clothing brand. They work closely with fashion designers and merchandisers to create textile designs that suit the clothing styles, season and customer. Textile designers also conduct trend research and forecasting for their products to ensure their designs are on-trend.

21. Creative director

Primary duties: The creative director is responsible for determining the overarching theme, color palette and styling of an apparel season’s collection. They can work for an apparel company or fashion magazine. An apparel creative director conducts trend research and reviews high-level sales data to determine what trending colors and styles their customers will likely purchase. At the beginning of each season, they meet with senior designers to establish the colour palette, theme, inspiration sources and any key design elements they want to see in the collection. Throughout development, the creative director ensures the designs are staying on track and maintaining cohesiveness.

Business of fashion careers

22. Product developer

Primary duties: Product developers oversee the apparel process from design conception to production completion. They are the apparel company’s primary contact with the factory and are responsible for choosing appropriate factories to produce each product. The product developer handles the cost and timeline negotiations with the factory. They also develop or source the fabrics, buttons, zippers and trims that the designers want to use in the product. The product developer must ensure all materials and the final garment meet the brand’s quality standards.

23. Technical designer

Primary duties: The technical designer is the garment engineer and the liaison between the design and product development teams. The design team gives the technical designer the creative vision for each garment, and they determine what stitches and hem finishing will be used. The technical designer is responsible for communicating these sewing details to the factory, along with the garment measurements. Their primary responsibility is fitting the garments when the samples arrive from the factory and revising the measurements, pattern or sewing methods as needed to make a high-quality, well-fitting garment.

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24. Quality assurance manager

Primary duties: The quality assurance manager is responsible for ensuring garment quality standards are maintained throughout production. They can be employed by the apparel brand, manufacturer or a third-party auditor. The manufacturer’s QA manager sets up checkpoints throughout the production line to review the quality. They then have a final quality inspection after the garment is complete.

A third-party auditor QA manager visits factories after the production lot is completely boxed up and randomly opens boxes to review the quality and packing methods of the garment. An apparel brand’s QA manager oversees the stock as it arrives in the warehouse and randomly checks pieces to ensure quality standards have been met.

Business of fashion careers

25. Production manager

Primary duties: The production manager is responsible for overseeing all elements of the garment manufacturing process, including fabric testing, cutting, sewing, final garment appearance and packaging. Production managers can be employed by the apparel brand or by the manufacturing plant. They ensure the manufacturers are complying with all legal and ethical requirements. The production manager is also responsible for ensuring the timeline negotiated by the product developer is met during production and shipping. The production manager and product developer roles can be combined or duties interchanged depending on the company’s structure.

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