Mentorship is Dead ... Is it only the Degree?!

Hi Everyone ,

I have always thought about the concept of having a mentor or someone to just guide you the right way Like every famous designer talks about when they started but Looks like this concept is dead long ago .

I never thought that everything in the fashion industry is all about connections . and Everyone is asking about the name of where you graduated in fashion . what about people who have the talent but didn’t have the opportunity to study ? Did all the successful talented fashion Designers been to fashion school ? Actually not at all .

My country doesn’t have any fashion schools actually . all about commerciality and not everyone is blessed to study abroad due to different reasons . i took a long way with self learning but still you would feel lost because you never know if you are doing the right thing

I have been trying to search the right path or guidance the past couple of years but really nothing . i emailed almost all the fashion companies for internships or jobvacancies or so i can help in anything but not sure if the email function is really functioning :smiley:

Have it always been like that ? or i am just delusional ?

Anyone has advice for me for how to start ?

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In my experience in Los Angeles, it was very hard to get your foot in the door. I started out at a very low paid job and had to scrape my way up. I’ve found that people in the fashion industry were generally very competitive and didn’t really want to mentor anyone. I think the industry should be different, and I always try to help anyone I can.

What country are you in? What skills do you have?

For the more commercial companies, I found the best thing was to have computer skills in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Most entry level jobs around here want you to be really good at editing line sheets and drawing technical flats. If you were strong at these skills, it was much easier to get an entry level job or internship.

Lastly, most big fashion companies are difficult to reach the right person to talk to. You are better off trying to contact an individual or small company. Are there any small boutique couture designers in your area that might need an assistant, even if its just for organizing and doing errands? Or even a high end seamstress/alterations shop that you could work in to get sewing skills?

Lastly- Id advise trying to learn from online courses! There are tons of youtube videos as well as paid courses on how to do fashion flats, drawings, sewing, etc. Educate yourself and see where it goes.


I’ve found all my mentors via IG. Found ppl I knew worked at brands I loved, followed them, interacted with their pg via comments and my relationships have grown from there. Sometimes is a lot simpler than it seems. Be genuine… be curious… be respectful.


Hi Eileen

Thanks for your reply and your advice .
I didnt mind to start with interships at all . I noticed that no one wants to mentor anyone but its really bad that everyone wants their own good .

I am in Egypt so its not that much a place for local fashion designers at all . I studied applied arts in university particulalrly sculture and architecture , took some graphic ad fashion courses when i finished but it was mainly intros, i then strted to learn by myself and from books . i was looking to study a master abroad but it never happened due to personal reasons.
if you can tell me a couple of links for online courses ( Adobe for fashion or else ) . that would be awesome . i tried alot with small companies but even those dont reply or want a degree in fashion.

Hi :slight_smile:
I love instagram .
When iw as looking for schools, i used to dm students so i can pick whats suitable for me .
I tried pm a couple of desigenrs before but rarely there is a reply

Well not big designers… not someone like Virgil. If you can find designers…Sr. designers… maybe even a Design Director’s pg. When there page is a good mix of their work and there personal you see what they do and they enjoy it…also they clearly love to share what they do if they post it. So that tells me they are usually willing to interact with ppl in a positive way about fashion. If you find a brand and see comments on the pg that are clearly from a person that works there you can start with them. Their pg will probably lead you to other designers and so on and so on.

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Thank you :two_hearts:

This industry is hard to get in because there are way too many people who want to be in fashion design industry and not enough jobs. For that reason the industry is competitive, toxic, with low pay, and no benefits. It’s not an easy industry to be in. And not as glamorous as people imagine.


If you’re interested in online learning, you could try:
There is also a podcast associated with this learning platform that is interesting.

Adobe itself also has some good tutorials for learning the basics of Illustrator, which is best for flat technical drawings, but they will not be as focused on apparel as general skills.

In my experience your connections are everything. Networking is very important and will open doors for you. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities to network online these days, so you can do this wherever you are :blush:

best of luck!

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Thank you very much for the advice <3

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I also had a hard time getting a paying design job after graduation. I did go to one of the main design schools in NYC and I’ve still had so many long gaps of unemployment. The industry is rough and hard to break into. It does seem to be all about connections in the sense that many jobs are never even officially posted before they’re filled.

I never had a mentorship in Fashion. It would have been nice. I’ve done internships but it was more about doing their tasks, rather than them teaching me much. However, during my internships I had been able to make friends with freelancers who always were happy to share advice and tips.

Try your luck with the placement agencies. They’re a great way to get your foot in the door.

If you’re looking for basic advice on things, I think this forum here is a great place. Everyone seems willing to share.

For young inexperienced design hopefuls, the overall thought process is that they are a dime a dozen, as there are wayyy more candidates than there are jobs.

That being said, having a degree is only important in some areas of fashion-- and certainly experience and attitude are much more important.

You can take classes at a trade show/community college, etc- especially things like sewing and patternmaking, and fashion sketching. Probably available online as well. And learn how to use Illustrator and photoshop like a pro. Pretty much no one does beautiful fashion illustrations anymore.

Once you feel you have the skills, pursue an internship with a smaller company as an intern or asst. Here’s the thing though- you have to be able to bring something to the table (ie: linesheet editing, CADs, patternmaking) because no one will have the time or want to take the time to teach you these things- especially since there are dozens of people who have some experience lining up for jobs, especially now.

Keep in mind that even if you are able to land an internship, most likely you’ll be doing pretty menial tasks, and probably no one will have the time to spend with you, certainly not to mentor you. However, if you have the best “can-do” attitude, and make your boss look great with your efforts, hopefully you can get some one-on-one time to ask questions and learn the ropes. (I used to take my interns out for lunch on occasion).

Keep in mind that you need to be happy to do the grunt work-- and know that all of us- even from the fancy design schools- had to do this, to claw our way up. But it CAN happen!

(I never had a mentor, and I worked at some crappy, boring, and just plain abusive jobs at some places. But I learned to be nice to everyone; learn as much as you can; come to the job every day to do your best- and eventually you’ll get to know some people who can help direct you on next steps along the way). Best of luck!

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