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General Skills for working in Textiles Industry

We spoke to a number of industry professionals about how to make it in the Textile and Fashion industry. Whilst there are many specific skills and competencies required for different roles, there were also a number of common attributes that we relevant for all roles within the Fashion industry. We have listed these key skills for success.


You will be required to communicate and interact with a wide range of different people.

“You have to be able communicate with your peers, with your suppliers…being clear about what you want and what you need is very, very important”

Buyer, George Clothing


Whatever route you want to take you will need to communicate clearly in a number of different ways such as: email, phone calls, meetings and presentations.

“Good communication skills, it’s a really important part of building relationships and what makes the department work”

Merchandiser, George Clothing



The Textile and Fashion industry is very busy and fast paced. Professionals told us that those who succeed are the people who are proactive –

‘They anticipate problems and provide solutions, they look for work that needs to be done rather than waiting to be told. That’s the type of people we take on as permanent staff’

Former Head of Design, Marks and Spencer’s

“Being proactive, that’s how you get yourself further”

Merchandiser, George Clothing


Working in the Fashion industry can be difficult and, at times, frustrating. You may need to work very hard doing tasks or jobs that you are not directly interested in or see the benefit of – like making tea for a meeting, sorting out old clothing samples in a dirty cupboard or checking that colour swatches match. This experience will be valuable as you progress to the more prestigious jobs.

“It’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks…you don’t just get to go in and go on a trip in your first year, you have to work your way up”

Buyer, George Clothing


It is also vital that you are hard working from the start of your career. The hours in the Fashion and Textiles Industry can be long and unsociable. You need to manage your time and energy levels so that you can be a valuable team member.

“It’s hard work and it’s long hours but I love going to other countries and experiencing different things with different people.”

Buyer, George Clothing


Positivity and Enthusisam

Passion and enthusiasm should also be demonstrated when you are working, that way people enjoy working with you. Having a good reputation as an employee and colleague is really important in the fashion industry as it is a very fluid and sociable sector.

If you approach work with enthusiasm then people will be happy to recommend you for more responsibility, promotions or other jobs. You also may work with the same people in the future as industry professionals often move companies multiple times in their career.

“It is a fantastic [industry] to work in but it is very difficult. It’s very competitive and the people that stand out are the people who are willing to work hard and have a very good work ethic.”

Buyer, George Clothing


Being passionate about fashion and design is extremely important if you want to have a successful career in the industry. You need to know trends and movements and be able to anticipate what your target market might want.

“That’s definitely something we look for – Passion, drive and ambition”



A key piece of advice that was repeated by a number of industry professionals was that employee in the design industry must adapt to their target markets needs and remember that they are rarely the intended customer.

You may also be asked to work in a range of areas or to do different tasks that you didn’t set out to do.

“Don’t be precious about the retailer…any work experience you can get I strongly advise you take it!”

Buyer, George Clothing

You can learn a lot of transferable skills, meet influential people, create contacts and gain valuable experience doing a range of different roles before you are ready for your dream job.


Time Management

Being able to manage your time to meet deadlines is crucial. Most companies within the design industry work to a ‘Critical Path’. This ensures that large organisations can work smoothly to reach a shared goal. If one person or team doesn’t meet a deadline it can affect all those involved in the critical path.

You have to be flexible, that’s really important. This business is crazy…so you have to really understand what your priorities are and organise your day around that”

Buyer, George Clothing