Life after fashion

Hi I was wondering what people do after fashion. I’m pushing 50 and have been in merchandising and buying my entire career. I feel like I’m getting aged out, and looking for what to do for the next 15 years (don’t know too many people in their 50’s still in fashion)

The professions I see most former fashion ppl transitioning to:

-real estate

  • recruiting
  • start their own store ( varying success)
  • freelance/consulting (not clear how many of these are “working”)



I’m wondering the same. If feels as if experience does not mean much in fashion. I would be interested in hearing recommendations as well.

Yes, I’m not interested in talking about ageism as that is obvious in fashion,more what does one do s they go into their 50’s in fashion.

Is it time to do something else, are there functions within fashion that one can still do until their retire?

This is a scary thought. As a younger person (under 50) but getting close to 50, I don’t want to end up jobless when all the companies are going to do is hire young talent that they can hire for cheap…or be that 60 year old sitting next to the intern, earning the same hourly wage. Not even on a salary - demoted to hourly just because that’s all they can get. I’d like to know a good plan for when I’m the age people will pass over me to hire someone younger! It’s not too far down the road…unfortunately.


Perhaps teaching if you have the patience. I am over 50 and am out of work because of pandemic like many people in the industry. I have regretted that I didn’t finish my initial study which was political science and I should have become a dirty politician, the job seems fun these days with all the drams in the WH. As for me personally, I would like to have my own menswear fashion house if I can and stay in business for 10-15 years and retired comfortably. I personally don’t see a lot of potential in fashion going forward as many luxury companies have gone bankruptcies. All the big names such as Armani, Lauren, Versace etc, they made their money and can comfortably retire. Maybe do some volunteer work life after fashion?


As a person 3 yrs from being 60 I can tell you now it’s harder and harder each year. Many will not hire you because of “age”, most will say your over qualified (don’t want to pay the salary, never thinking they will get this age and still need to support selves or family). What irks me the most is they want you to have a BA degree with 10yrs experience for an entry level or associates position (totally ridiculous). Hindsight is 50/50 I should have followed my heart and joined the Airforce instead of having my parents guilt me into attending college but I understand they wanted better for me (being a college graduate). At this point we well seasoned industry people just have to reinvent ourselves with what skill sets we now have


Ive been doing technical design for at least 8 years and right now I don’t feel like anyone wants to hire me even though I have this great amount of experience. Its also been ups and downs with my learning experience which has pushed me to think about a career change before the pandemic and now I am on a path to start a career in graphics design.

If tech design jobs were to pay tech designers what they were really worth rather than dwindling the salary rate year-to-year then I probably would be staying in it.


I’m wondering, if its getting harder and harder for everyone, what kind of “second careers” are people thinking of going into? Or just stick it out and continue looking for jobs in fashion?

With a merchandising and buying background, you can always go into hard goods. I have a few friends who are now in the home improvement sector and are loving interior design.


there seem to be a lot more opportunity in interior design
There is also opportunity in visual design / UI / UX and
e-commerce content management.


I am still working FT in fashion design but also started a side hustle in fine jewelry a few years ago and am having some success which I believe will transition me over in the future to my second career as a jewelry designer working for MYSELF


I started a very small side hustle of making jewelry too - there’s a lot of competition but enjoying the freedom! The tough part is how to have a lasting future with it since it requires hand strength


Fashion is definitely age resistant, but I am finding that many other industries are as well. With almost 4 decades of very intense experience, and hands-on knowledge and skills, the only options that I am finding are with selling life insurance, working hourly/low amount of hours given, or working commission only. And these do not provide health insurance. Funny, when I had my own business, I hired people at all different ages…from 21 to 70…and they all brought a certain skill set that I appreciated greatly. I would suggest to work as many gigs as you can…maybe freelance/side gigs are the answer.


yeah, I have been making great money in fashion ($200K+) throughout my late 30’s to 40’s.but as i push 50, its getting harder and harder. I don’t want to do commission only jobs that pay so little, so am looking at things that I can use my skills in fashion merchandising that translates into other categories.

I think there are some out there, for instance, cannibis is a thing now, and perhaps hardgoods or other categories that aren’t just apparel. I think you’re right, everything is alittle bit age resistant, but at least not as much as fashion where part of your worth is based on how young and on trend you are.


It is getting harder, and unfortunately, companies keep putting the younger ones (and I mean under age 30) in the HR division, and for some reason, they do not value experience or longevity. I have been in this industry for 30 years, started at 19 while still in college, but once I hit 35, I saw a huge shift. And it has not gotten better.
I had to reinvent myself, went for my MFA as a friend suggested I start teaching at the college and university level. So along with teaching, I freelance design and consult start-ups. And I also stayed on top of all of the technology. I am teaching the newbies, the future of fashion. Yet when I go for an interview, I am asked whether I know how to do tech packs (my portfolio is filled with examples - plus I teach it!), asked about social media, etc. At one interview, one of the young ladies interviewing me asked me if I knew what PLM was and when I explained yes I did, it was like a surprise to her. Why are they not asking about relevant information? The successes? The longevity of being in this industry? One HR person was no more than 25 and she said to me that anything I did prior to five years ago is irrelevant. She said it didn’t matter if I designed a look that was popular 25 years ago - all that mattered is what have I done recently, like now. I shot back that the wrap dress Diane von Furstenberg designed and is considered timeless, is irrelevant?? She looked at me and said she didn’t who that was! All they know is the Zara’s, F21 and H&M’s.
All I can suggest is to reinvent yourself. Create a fabulous website and put yourself out there to consult. Create some videos and post on YouTube. You can also try teaching if you have a MFA (or have a BA if it is a college that gives AA degrees).
Reach out to your network, and post on LinkedIn that you are looking for opportunities That’s what I do when I hit a dry spell and need freelance work. Build on the connections.
At this point it is all about survival.


i recently went though the end of my fashion career after 30+ years. I must say it was hard at first to find direction and reinvent myself…But now that I have , I am a million times happier than before. I did not realize at time the amount of abuse, life sucking hours of work and discrimination I had undergone because my nose was always to the grindstone trying to meet the next deadline or get the next line out the door…After 30 years I was trully completely jaded…My life had become the work and I lost myself…Then the jobs started to dissapear…companies closing or moving…I realized that at this rate it was only a matter of time and most fashion jobs would be overseas…End of an era.,…So I started to evaluate what skills I had that would be useful or transferrable… reinvented my resume and started applying…Then a harsh reality set in…with 30+ years in the fashion industry that was all employers saw an old washed up fashion worker…So how do you fix this? How do you get your foot in tht door? Well. 1st…create an ageless resume…condence it to just the most recent experience no more than 10 years out…No major signs or clues of your age… 2nd customize your resume to the position you are applying for…Use keywords found in the job description to avoid it getting lost in the job application system…3rd do not be afraid to work for temp agencies…they will give you opportunities to see first hand what is out there expose you to new companies. Companies get the opportunity to sample your skills first hand without the pressure or commitments…and you get to explore jobs to see what you truly enjoy doing without being married to the jobs you do not like…Another huge plus…you get to rebuild your resume with something other than Fashion! For me personally it was a 2 years of hard work and self learning…trail and error… but, it landed me with an amazing and satisfying new career in the non profit sector. I feel a new sense of purpose and am way happier now than I have been in all the 30 years in the Fashion industry… I regained myself, my personal life …no more 12+ hour workdays without overtime pay…No more weekend work… No more unnecessary stress. Loving life for the first time in years! There can be life after Fashion…It is possible…It can take some soul searching and some tears…not going to lie. But, Iin the end it can be rewarding beyond your expectations…Do not sell yourself short you have alot of skills…Do not believe that you are to old. Sometimes the prof is in the pudding… you just have to put it out there in the universe! :wink:


I have been trying to leave this industry behind, but it is very difficult. Transitioning to hard goods/CPG has not worked, as the companies want experience in the exact category for which they have a need. I have tried several times to obtain an entry-level position in completely different industries - rejected each time. I don’t have the financial resources or the time to invest in lengthy educational courses. Real estate, financial planning, etc. are options, but offer no benefits such as health insurance, which I cannot afford to pay for on my own. I feel very discouraged and quite frankly, paralyzed. I’m in the 3rd year of dealing with this, and finally had to leave NY and move in with a relative. I am going to continue looking for work in the industry because I feel like I have to, but I’m still researching what other options make sense in my current situation.


I think one thing that I’ve realized is that whatever you decide to pursue, say you are going into hardgoods, or another category, you have to have a story why that is the thing you’ve always want to do, and sell your passion for it. otherwise if the hiring team doesn’t see that and sees that you just want a job, they will not overlook your lack of experience in the category


Reinvent ourselves!!! Consolidate the resume back to 20 years max., (high leadership positions want a solid background) and take a course for the new era of digital strategies based on the field we’re in (ie marketing, design, sourcing).

Things have changed even before Covid. Companies won’t view us as “too old” if we know something they don’t and can lead them into a new ere or help them evolve.

So many companies are bankrupt and trying to reinvent themselves so it’s an interesting time to approach them offering them expertise to help get them back on track. Let them know they need you with all that experience.

I had severe downs and long periods of unemployment but decided to give it one more shot and completely reinvented myself: the fashion biz is superficial and wants “progressive” people, not old thinkers. So if you decide to stay in it (I did at age 50 because of the $$ and the travel) you need to reinvent yourself: you can do it on a budget!! Here’s what I did: I redid my resume, made it more
Modern and reconfigured the layout and font, took one online digital course which I talk about on the interviews (which I Learned a great deal from),
lost 15 lbs, got a new hair style, changed my personal style and overall - felt great both physically and psychologically. I became my own “Svengali” project . I interviewed for a position at my level but the package was under what I wanted (for a younger,
Less seasoned person), yet they were thrilled with my experience and offered Me the job. I went in accepting less and eventually worked my way up to being at the proper market rate for this position.

I know this may not last (been 3 years now) and ageism will rear its ugly head once a new leader comes in or the company has financial issues - so I am looking into another career / side job that I can segue into.

Thanks for reading!


Does anyone have a recommendation how to get a teaching role? Seems like there is not a clear application process for FIT? Or other universities?