Just Because You Love Clothes, Doesn’t Mean You Should Work In Fashion

Due to one too many reruns of The Devil Wears Prada, a career in fashion conjures up images of endless runways, Starbucks frappes and piles and piles of free, beautiful clothing. Not to mention a life soundtracked by this timeless song.

Actually, you should keep KT Tunstall playing in the background, because we’re going to take you through the hard truths of what working in fashion is really like and it’ll really set the mood. (Plus, isn’t it such a good song?)

Virginia Martin is the founder and sole designer of wildly popular Australian clothing label búl. She was kind enough to share some wise, wise words with us about what a career in fashion is really like. With her experience building the label from bricks and mortar and into a flourishing business, Virginia knows a thing or twenty about what you need to make a name for yourself in the fashion biz.

Appreciate all of it (even the bad stuff)

The fashion industry draws passionate admirers from all walks of life, but only those that have the guts to stick through the grit will be able to climb the ranks.

Virginia says, “I feel passion is definitely important, but there are so many other factors that need to be considered in making a successful business. You must have the expertise to deliver, the drive to continue the vision, the resilience to recover in times of hardship and to always be courageous about your decisions.”

Resilience is key when you’re looking to work in a competitive business like fashion. In fact, her days don’t sound like anything you’d expect. She mentions long days poring over excel spreadsheets and replying to endless emails, in fact, she describes her day to day as “80% business 20% fashion.”


You might surprise yourself

When asked what the most surprising part of starting up her own label was, Virginia replied “that I really enjoy the business side of things, almost as much as design.”

She sees this as a huge benefit. “One cannot work without the other, and it’s always a great sense of accomplishment when the two cohesively align.”

“Experience, experience, experience!”

What advice would Virginia give to someone who loves fashion and is up for all the tough work that comes with it? “Experience, experience, experience!”

“Learn as much as you can, in all aspects, from the design side but also the business side.”

She also stresses that you should be as broad as you can, and try not to limit your area of interest, “Trying different areas of the industry will give you greater knowledge of your vision and will really set you apart.”

In terms of setting up your own label, Virginia reckons you should just jump in the deep end and start kicking, “You can prepare and prepare but there is no greater way to learn than to dive head first into starting your own label. When you work for yourself, the mistakes hurt more but they develop you with the knowledge for future decisions.”

Virginia is as realistic as they come about the peaks and troughs of working in such a competitive industry. But she’s darn grateful to be able to.

“It’s a hard road,” she adds, “but trust me it’s worth it.”

All images provided. 


Josephine is a writer from western Sydney who likes to blatantly lie on her bios. She played the youngest sister in 80s sitcom Family Ties and looks fantastic running with a backpack on.