Are you dreaming about being a part of the fashion industry? Going to Fashion Weeks and fancy parties? Work on amazing photoshoots? See your clothes in the most famous magazines? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in the right place. However, fashion world can be different than you expect. That’s why I asked people working in it to share what you should know and expect before you start playing the fashion game. In this post I let them take the floor and share their experiences with you.

Fashion blogger – Eleonora Bernardi Zizola

before you start playing the fashion game

Eleonora is a fashion blogger from Venice (Italy). She has over 120k followers on Instagram and she collaborates with fashion and accessory brands.

In my opinion, the most difficult thing for a girl who is starting blogging is to understand that it’s not a joke. You need determination and the things absolutely don’t come immediately. You need to try, do, retry. If one wants to start as a model or a blogger, she should contact the photographers, make collaborations, be in front of the camera. The most important things are to know at least a bit how to pose and create your own style. For example, many times I’ve tried to buy different clothes than those that I normally take, but every time I eventually buy the same style that speaks to me. Maybe other pieces would be better, but I just don’t like them. It’s just the personal style. So you should have your personality and get inspired. In my opinion you should follow and really pay attention to two, maybe three people whose style and image you like and get inspired by them, without copying. It can be difficult at the beginning, because the line between inspiration and copy is very thin and using just the smallest detail can turn out to be a total copy, instead of your version of that look or style. So, a girl who is starting this career should be aware of the fact that if she wants to achieve something in it, she has to understand that it’s not a joke and you need patience and constant. And positive. Yes, ‘be yourself’ is true, but you also need to work a lot.

Make-up artist – Gab Strauneanu

before you start playing the fashion game

Gab studied her art in Milan. After graduating she worked with many photographers, models and model agencies.

Me: How should one prepare to work as mua in the fashion industry?
Gab: So, the fashion industry is a fast world. You need to be extremely fast and good. Keep yourself trained every single day, try new things every day, have a culture about fashion designers, clothing but also art. You must study the painters, the decades. You must be available and also polite. In the fashion industry you only have one chance to make things right, you would not have a second opportunity. You must keep yourself always updated with masters. Study the styles of opposite countries ( France vs Russia). Have a good knowledge in doing hairstyles. And in my opinion a good mua, especially the fashion one, has to be the next Leonardo da Vinci. That means mastering different techniques, materials, knowing how to draw, how to paint, how to create a boat ( any resemblance to people is extremely accidental* 😂) speaking at least English, etc. Also knowing how lights and photography works is fundamental. So a fashion mua also would have to be a photographer and hairstylist.

Me: What is the most difficult?
Gab: Understanding the photographer’s vision and giving him exactly what he/she wants. Sometimes photographers don’t have a clue about make-up and it’s difficult for us muas to understand what they wants, or they don’t have a clue about colors and they want to put together colors that don’t make the model look good with the environment or clothing.

Me: What was the most surprising? What have you never expected?
Gab: I have never expected things to be that fast and sometimes “quiet and cold”. But in this industry is normal. I was also surprised how sometimes there is a lack of communication between mua/photographer, mua/stylist, mua/model etc.

*Gab meant that she’s building a boat for our next photoshoot together. A bed on the river shore she already created.

Fashion Designer – Belinda Healy

before you start playing the fashion game

Belinda comes from Autralia. She studied nursing before moving to London to study fashion design, which she later continued in Milan. The dress designed by her and shown on a runway show was issued on

Fashion is often not as glamorous as you might think…there are a lot of very important (but not so ‘exciting’) jobs that need to be taken care of (and it will probably be you if you’re the student or intern, and DEFINITELY will be you if you have just started your own label!) Things like cataloging textiles, hand stitching hems, even pairing and folding socks!! Nevertheless all of these jobs are essential to the big picture of releasing a fabulous collection, so embrace it and do every job to the best of your ability!

Fashion is a lifestyle, not simply a job. If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of always being in ‘on mode’ (apart from a few essential, healthy ‘me times’) then think carefully if it is a good career match for you. Inspiration comes at any time (and probably will!!) and you need to be in the right frame of mind to recognize it when you see it!
Keep your eyes and ears open CONSTANTLY! Fashion is a reflection of our culture and the world we live in, so always be observant and think about what you see and hear around you…and what does it mean?? Politics, architecture, art, tv, films, all of them inform and influence what we wear on our bodies, so try to stay informed about it and try to develop your own thoughts and perspectives on these issues – it will ultimately inform your work whether you realize it or not.

When you’re at fashion school, learning doesn’t finish when you walk out of the classroom at the end of the day. Read as many fashion magazines as your budget will allow, watch runway shows on YouTube and think critically about what makes them unique and what was the designer trying to communicate. Volunteer to work backstage at fashion week, listen to podcasts, just absorb as much as you can, in any way you can.
Enter every student competition you hear about, even if the brief doesn’t especially excite you. Firstly, it’s great experience for you to develop your skills, secondly, it will make a great portfolio builder, and lastly, it leads you to meet people (many of who are really influential!!) and allows you to build a network of contacts.
Practice your sewing techniques, even the tricky, annoying things like French seams on chiffon! The more you practice, the less fearful of the techniques you’ll be!! You might not ultimately want to be a seamstress, but it really will make you a MUCH better designer/pattern maker/stylist/whatever…if you know how a garment is constructed and how textiles behave when they are manipulated.

Keep a portfolio of your best work and regularly update it. Don’t wait until you are ready to apply to college or an internship/job before you start collating your work, start at least 3-6 months before you’re going to need to present the finished portfolio (it will take you that long to create a quality document!) As you evolve and grow as a creative person, your work will also evolve, so make sure that what you include in your final edit of your portfolio really speaks about you and highlights what makes you unique.

Be confident in yourself (but NOT arrogant or unteachable!) Let’s face it, nearly none of us have been blessed with the genes and good looks of professional models. But a lot (though certainly not all) of the fashion world is about appearance and body image. Be confident in who you are as a person (body, mind and spirit) and what makes you and your work unique. Otherwise you could find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of insecurities if we start to think that all that matters is whether we fit into that size 40 D&G dress!! Being insecure WILL impact on the quality of your work. Having said that, always be humble and ready to listen and re-evaluate your point of view if needed.

Lastly, a very practical hint! Any additional language you can speak will be a benefit to you in the world of fashion. Fashion is SO global these days that it’s almost becoming expected in many areas that you will speak multiple languages. Of course English is (and probably will be for the foreseeable future) the international language of fashion, so most jobs, especially if you want to travel or climb the corporate ladder, are going to require this skill at some point. Italian, French and Spanish are all incredibly important and helpful languages as well, and perhaps that’s not too surprising. However, Mandarin is fast becoming ‘THE’ language to know in the world of fashion business, due to the huge economic surge in the Chinese market. Alongside this are Japanese and Russian, for similar reasons. So do your best to enhance your language skills as much as you can.

Be willing and able to work at a fast pace on multiple projects at a time, and keep positive when there are bumps in the road. This is one which I am personally still doing my best to work on, but the nature of fashion is that things can change and develop quickly… sometimes literally overnight! It may be an email out of the blue requesting a significant change of direction in the project, or a model is no longer available, or a particular textile you want is held up in shipping. These things will always happen, and it’s not (usually) any reflection on the quality of work you are doing. So stay positive and find ways to roll with the changes. Put your problem solving hat on and embrace the challenge! Sometimes these last minute changes have even really improved the end result of a project!!

Stylist – Marta Strońska

before you start playing the fashion game

Marta is a stylist based in Warsaw (Poland) and her work has been featured in numerous magazines, including Cliché, Elle, Solis, etc.

Being a stylist is not easy. If you’re just starting and you’re a freelancer, it will be difficult for you to borrow clothes for photoshoots from showrooms or from designers. They lend clothes, so that many – as many as possible – people could see it. That’s why it would be the best if the pictures would have a guaranteed publication in printed magazine sold across the whole country. Unfortunately, you have a chance for it only if you’re an intern at one of those magazines. Usually, such internship is not paid, so many people do it being still on university or while living with their parents, and this seems a good solution. If you can’t or don’t want to do the internship, you have to buy clothes and accessories in chain stores and in second-hand shops. But in such cases you have to spend some money to prepare a photoshoot – at least around 250e (during sales). Of course, later you return the items to shops and get the money back, if the clothes are in good condition. However, a scratch on the high heel can already cause some problems with that. You can’t return the clothes to the second-hand, but you an use them again for another shoot or sell them online.

After you make a few good editorials with talented people and, in addition, you are a convincing person, soon the door of the showrooms will open for you and at least getting clothes will become easier.
The second problem is: nobody wants to pay for your work. At the beginning it’s understandable, as you’re learning, but after a few years and numerous photoshoots the constant questions for a free work begin to be tiring. Of course, there are people with known names, with whom it’s worth to work TFP (time for pictures/prints) as these images can add value to your portfolio. But these are the NAMES.

But if you’re invitated for collaboration by a photographer, whose pictures are weak and you wouldn’t include them in your portfolio or one, who offers you a job for free while at the same time takes money from a model agency, I suggest you kindly refuse or tell your fees. In such cases quite often they would refuse
In the media industry (tv/film/music/fashion) knowing people is the key and if you don’t know anybody, then your future won’t be easy. There’s nothing to be surprised of – everybody prefers to work with people suggested by a friend than with complete stranegers. To handle this you should be charismatic, a bit extravagant, love going out to famous places, fake smiles and strong alcohols. I’m kidding. If you are a cool person putting your heart into what you do (and, of course, you do it well), people will start suggestig you to each other and orders will start coming.

Finally, I suggest:
• Having a driving license and a car
• Having a stable financial situation (a part-time job, savings, somebody’s help)
• Attending some school/course preparing for the profession (fashion design, cosumography, stylization) as it teaches you important things about fabrics, silhouettes, art movements, fashion history, trends and it develops your imagination and creativity
• Knowing how to sew – this ability is always useful, as sometimes getting an item that fits perfectly for the shoot is simply impossible (e. g. a huge orange jacket that can cover two people) and it’s cool if you can do it yourself.

Model – Ali Marie Stepka

before you start playing the fashion game

Ali is a professional model. She has worked all around the world – among others in NY, London, Paris, Tokyo. She also played in a few movies and TV series.

Wait with your decision about becoming a model till you’re 15-16, as earier you don’t know if you have the model’s body. Then, find an agency you can trust and that will take care of you, which does not necessarily mean the biggest one. To do it go for the open calls (check agency website for information). They are usually held 1h/week and no appointment is needed – you just come in.

Come prepared:
a. basic clothing – white top, jeans, something to show off your body and your look
b. don’t overdo your make-up, do it relatively basic: some powder, a little of mascara. They just want to see you
c. you need to take photos with you. No fancy photographer needed. Your mom/friend can take pix of you up against the white wall:
• a headshot
• a 3/4 of you just looking of to the side
• a full body
You can just take them with your small digital camera and print, so that they can see what you look like on camera.

If you come from a small city, take those pictures and email them to agencies in bigger cities. See if they express any interest, so that you don’t have to pay for traveling to those cities for the open calls of everybody.
Model scout? If omebody gives you the card, do the research. Go to their website and reach to their models. Do your background before you start giving your body for something that might not be what it was going to be. If they give you a card, ask who they are scouting for and confirm if this person is really scouting for them. They shouldn’t be insulted if you’re trying to verify them. If you’re underage take the card and make your parents deal with the scout. A good scout will ask you for a contact to your parents. Don’t go anywhere with those people!

Your parents should also meet with the agencies, especially if you’re under 18.
If you are serious about it, you should be ready to travel a lot and also to live in different countries and cities for a few months.

Photographer – Aleksandra Galert

before you start playing the fashion game

Aleksandra graduated photography at Warsaw School of Photography. She then moved to Italy where she works with fashion bloggers, model agencies and designers. She also took pictures during the Milan Fashion Week and her images were published in various international magazines such as Elegant, Cliché, Dreamingless, Solis, Obscure, etc.

First of all, you need a good portfolio. Nobody cares how many courses you took – your pictures should speak for themselves. Good portfolio opens many doors, however not as many as knowing people. One person working in the fashion industry explained it to me with one question: ‘Who did you work with?’. If, like me, you hardly know anybody in the fashion industry – do your networking homework. Social media are a great place to start. You can be surprised how many amazing peopld you can meet, when you actually start searching. Of course, not all collaborations will be a success, but getting to know more and more people gives you better chances for great opportunities in the future. Social media are also a great place to become visible for your potential clients, so make sure your instagram feed looks professionally and that you use proper hashtags.

At first, make as many photoshoots and collaborations as you can. You have to find your style and master the photography techniques. This way you can be sure that even in case of some emergency, you’ll be able to deal with it. Learn how to work with people: models, mua, stylists. Listen to them, but be able to express and execute your vision. Be nice, not bossy! Sometimes you’ll be the one responsible for the photoshoot and directing it. Other times there will be an editor or a client, whom you’ll have to please. Learn to work in both situations.

Accept the fact that at the beginning (and not only) nobody will want to pay you. Especially models and bloggers are used to free photoshoots as there are so many photographers trying to create their portfolio. At first, till your portfolio is not strong enough, work TFP. As you get better, start asking to get paid. Many will refuse you, but don’t change your mind. You have to value your skills. Of course, if there is some famous blogger that you can take pictures of and that would be important for you to just have that name in your portfolio, you can do it for free. But don’t believe that someday people will start paying you just like that. If you don’t value your skills, nobody else will.

The most surprising for me was how hard it is to enter this world. Yes, I always heard there are many people and you should have friends, but I thought it’s much easier to overcome. Lately I talked to a fashion magazine editor and she told me, she didn’t know anybody under 45 who wouldn’t be struggling. But other editor told me it’s doable, so there’s hope.

Within the upcoming weeks I’ll be publishing more detailed descriptions of each profession and suggestions, how to start. So stay tuned and don’t forget and share this post with anyone who would love to work in fashion. Let me know in the comments, what is your dream fashion profession. If it’s not on the list – I’ll add it and talk to people doing it!