How to Break Into the Fashion Industry and Make Your Mark

It’s time to get hustling – while doing it in style

If you’re prepared to do what it takes to get to the top, you’ve gotta put in a lot of work and passion.

The most frequently asked question is, ‘where the hell do I start?’. Well, you’re in luck because you’re about to find out what you need to do to get there and leave your mark on the fashion world.


1. Getting started with studies

As it turns out, style isn’t something you necessarily need to learn – it’s something you’re born with. For example, our talented Junior Fashion Editor here at COSMO, Cleo Marcopoulos, completed a degree in media and writing, and absolutely kills it when it comes to social media and styling fashion shoots.

Education is vital and offers a unique set of skills, which you can bring to the table. It is essential to have something behind your name and to push yourself to be above the rest, because TBH, this business is a cut-throat one. You don’t need to specifically study fashion in order to make a success of yourself when it comes to styling. Journalism, media, art direction, business and marketing are all key factors that make a part of this industry.

However, if design is what you are looking to go into then, yes, studying fashion design is a major factor. This will provide you with the skills required to make tailored, good-quality garments.

Where to study fashion and which course will suit you best


This college will allow you to complete a degree in fashion, with the option of advancing to an Honours degree.

If you are wanting to get into fashion buying/designing/styling/editing

Where: Cape Town

Website: Fedisa.co.za

Full-time course

Duration: Three-year BA degree


  • Visual Studies
  • Clothing Technology
  • Business Studies
  • Lifestyle Studies


CTCFD (Cape Town College of Fashion Design)

This college focuses on innovative education and aims for students to become responsive to the ever-changing creative and technological developments in the fashion industry.

If you are wanting to get into fashion buying/designing

Where: Cape Town

Website: Ctcfd.co.za

Full-time course

Duration: Three-year Diploma in Fashion Design


  • Fashion Design
  • Business Studies
  • Fashion Merchandising
  • Digital Fashion Application
  • Garment Construction
  • Pattern Design
  • History of Costume
  • Contemporary Fashion History
  • Textiles
  • Fashion Buying Principles
  • Brand Design
  • Experiential Learning
  • Costume Design
  • Photography
  • Fashion Photography (elective)

*Take a look at the website for further info on short courses.


Design Academy of Fashion

This college has built an outstanding reputation as a leader in fashion education. It is constantly striving towards excellence and innovation.

If you are wanting to get into fashion buying/designing

Where: Cape Town

Website: Daf-academy.co.za

Higher Certificate in Fashion:

Duration: One year


Fashion Diploma:

Duration: Three years


  • Pattern making
  • Micro Business Management
  • Retail Planning and Buying
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Textile Studies
  • Experiential Learning
  • Fashion Design
  • Illustration and Colour Theory
  • Technical Drawing
  • Garment Construction
  • Computer Illustration and Design
  • Fashion Forecasting
  • Theory of Design
  • History of Costume

*Take a look at its website for further info on short courses.


Elizabeth Galloway

Its courses aim to provide learners with an opportunity to develop practical, vocational, creative and commercial skills.

If you are wanting to get into designing/fashion entrepreneurship

Where: Stellenbosch

Website: Elizabethgalloway.co.za

Full-time Diploma in Fashion

Duration: Three years


  • Design
  • Technology
  • Fashion Photography
  • Technical Drawing
  • Garment Construction
  • Drawing and Illustration
  • Creative Computing
  • Pattern Making
  • Business Management
  • Design Management

*Take a look at its website for further info on other courses.


Spero Villioti Elite Academy

This college prides itself on a unique and revolutionary approach, dedicated to educating students with the confidence and conviction required to be a leader in the fashion industry.

If you are wanting to get into designing/business of fashion/entrepreneurship

Where: Johannesburg

Website: Sperovillioti.co.za

Full-time diploma

Duration: Three years


  • Fashion Illustration and Design Design Concepts
  • Business Studies and Management
  • Pattern Engineering
  • Garment Construction
  • Finishing Techniques
  • Fabric Manipulation and Textiles
  • History of Fashion
  • Work Integrated Learning
  • Design Concepts
  • Visual Studies
  • Trend Forecasting

Full-time BA Degree in Fashion

Duration: Three years


  • Fashion Design Concepts
  • Fashion Operations Management
  • Textile Theory & Application
  • History of Fashion
  • Culture of Fashion
  • Academic Literacy
  • Fashion Retail Management
  • History of Fashion
  • Culture of Fashion
  • Trend Forecasting
  • Garment Engineering



DUT (Durban University of Technology)

The fashion course covers all the aspects of fashion and textiles necessary to meet the industry’s need for professional designers.

If you are wanting to get into fashion buying /assistant buying/textile design/fashion design/industry merchandising/styling

Where: Durban

Website: Dut.ac.za

Full-time Diploma in Fashion

Duration: Three years


  • Applied Clothing Technology
  • Pattern Making
  • Textile Design
  • Garment Construction
  • Design Studies
  • Business Studies
  • Theory of Clothing


2. Get an internship

A fashion internship is unbelievably valuable. It will raise you to the next level and will be a huge learning experience as you begin your career. Being an intern requires late nights, a champagne run or two (if you’re lucky) and a lot of heavy lifting (you have no idea!). Keep in mind that you are no longer working just for yourself to meet your next assignment deadline – you’re working under the pressure of meeting the requirements of fashionistas who have been doing this for years.

It sounds scary (and it can be), but it’s one of the most exciting environments to be in if fashion is your passion.

As a side note, while some companies offer paid internships, this is something that you’ll need to find out about when you apply. Associated Media Publishing does offer a limited number of paid internships, but we cannot guarantee this is the case for all brands recommended, below.


Here is where to look if you want to jump on that interview train:


  • Associated Media Publishing (Marie Claire, COSMOPOLITANGood Housekeeping)
  • Isiko Media (Elle, Elle Decor, Longevity)
  • Condé Nast (House & Garden, GQ, Glamour)
  • Media24 Magazines (True Love, Fairlady, Women’s Health)


  • Jenni Button
  • Palesa Mokubung
  • Laduma Ngxokolo’s MaXhosa
  • David Tlale
  • Marianne Fassler


3. Tips and tricks you need to know:

  • Be nice! The fashion community is small and everybody knows everybody. This can be both a blessing and a curse – work hard and be friendly and you will soar, but have a bad attitude towards your tasks and you won’t go far at all.
  • Be prepared to start off with some menial tasks. Working in fashion means a lot of people wanting to get involved. Don’t always expect to go on every shoot until you’ve earned it. In addition, this career means that you may be handling extremely expensive products – so before you start eyeing that Gucci bag, you’ve gotta gain some trust.
  • Expect to get toned arms. You will be receiving products, sourcing and doing returns on the regular, and that involves a substantial amount of heavy lifting.
  • You are about to become a social-media guru. You’ll be spending time gaining followers, likes and comments for your company or designer’s page.


So there you have it – a quick guide on how to become the next Miranda Priestly. We look forward to seeing you at events, launches and exclusive sales in the near future. Winking Face on Apple iOS 10.2


Can you see yourself dominating in this industry? Tweet us @CosmopolitanSA #COSMOFashion

Read more fashion news
Read more fashion ‘How to Wear’
Read more beauty news

More From


Hustle 15 Aug 2019 SHARE
Here’s How to Quit Procrastinating and Manage Your Time While Juggling Your Job and Studies
Hustle 05 Aug 2019 SHARE
7 of the Best Travel Jobs That Won’t Even Feel Like Work
Hustle 31 Jul 2019 SHARE
How To Ask For a Pay Rise, According To The Experts