Have you considered these ‘off the runway’ fashion careers? We think you should.

'off the runway' fashion careers

Lights, camera, catwalk! The fashion world loves a good runway show, and for some, they ignited dreams of pursuing careers in the industry during their formative years.

I grew up knowing that fashion careers were mainly focused on glam models who light up the runways and the fantastic designers who created these pieces. I always wondered what went on behind the flashing lights and de rigueur. Today, I’ve learned that models’ poise and spellbinding runway spectacles aren’t conjured with the snap of a finger, nor do these creative showcases magically materialise on our screens. Now that I comprehend the immense effort and time invested by countless individuals, I can’t help but imagine that fashion houses might secretly wish for such magic.

Have you ever aspired to collaborate with celebrated designers like Atafo, Orange Culture, or Lisa Folawiyo, but not necessarily as a towering six-foot model? Let’s be honest: fashion careers appeared somewhat dim in the past, primarily due to how the media often pigeonholed them. Propitiously, there are many untapped fashion careers in the industry beyond the traditional design and modelling careers.

Your fashion fairy godmothers here at MCN are here to provide you with all the information you need to start a career in fashion. Suppose you are a student with a burning passion for fashion or simply curious about the multifaceted world behind the runway. In that case, this article provides an enlightening perspective on the fashion world. With this article, we will dive into five prominent fashion careers. Ready to explore a variety of fashion careers? We got you.

Fashion Stylist 

Fashion stylists are the creative minds behind breathtaking visual stories, expertly curating intricate pieces to achieve complete looks. They possess an innate sense of trends, labels, colour palettes, and body types, turning garments and accessories into captivating displays. Their craft shines through from magazine covers to runways, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Yet, a fashion stylist’s realm stretches far beyond the surface. They’re the cultural weather vanes, always catching the breeze of shifting trends and cultural currents. They need to be both artistic visionaries and practical wizards, skillfully handpicking the perfect attire and accessories to fit the unique theme of each event. Operating under tight constraints, like having a limited wardrobe or a ticking clock, truly highlights the stylist’s creative problem-solving skills. This profession demands creativity, strong interpersonal communication skills, meticulous attention to detail, and the ability to thrive under pressure.

A successful fashion career as a stylist involves dedication, extensive research, and practice. With experience, stylists can advance to positions like fashion director or creative director in magazines or fashion houses. Additionally, they can explore specialised areas such as celebrity styling or personal shopping.

Fashion Lawyer

In fashion careers, the significance of fashion lawyers cannot be overstated. They play a vital role in safeguarding designers’ creative rights, protecting brands’ commercial interests, and navigating the complex legal landscape that underpins a fashion house’s growth, all while ensuring the preservation of designs, trademarks, and innovations. If your heart is in fashion, but you’ve gone through the painstaking process of studying law for six years, don’t worry; fashion law is a prospective career. 

Specific skills are essential to embark on a successful career in fashion law. Beyond the foundational law degree, which equips you with knowledge of fashion-related legal matters like intellectual property rights, trademark disputes, contracts, and industry regulations, you must possess exceptional contract negotiation and communication skills. Additionally, thinking quickly and analytically is crucial for excelling in this field.

Like other growth opportunities in law, as a fashion lawyer, you can become a partner or associate in a law firm specialising in fashion law. Alternatively, you can work as an in-house counsel for fashion companies and, with adequate experience in the industry, transition to teaching fashion law or providing consultancy services.

3D Fashion Designer

What’s more fascinating than being a tech enthusiast? Becoming a fashion techie! Blending your tech prowess with a passion for fashion opens doors to exciting fashion careers. 3D fashion design is the industry’s future, where designers craft intricate, lifelike digital representations of clothing and accessories within a virtual realm. Their work seamlessly bridges the gap between design concepts and digital visualisation, streamlining the creative process, minimising waste, and elevating fashion precision.

In 2018, Idiat Shiole embarked on her journey as a 3D fashion designer specialising in film, gaming, and fashion. During the lockdown, she swiftly gained recognition by collaborating with industry giants like Adidas, Metaverse, and The Fabricant, solidifying her place as one of the few Nigerians making waves in this field.

“ I started with the regular 2D fashion illustration and found it was limited… Being a Muslim and a hijabi, I was denied by fashion houses when I approached them to illustrate for them.”

Having personally encountered biases against hijabis within the fashion world, Idiat was motivated to break barriers and establish herself as one of Africa’s most in-demand 3D fashion designers.

Idiat actively advocates for sustainability in fashion, harnessing technological advancements to craft designs that minimise fabric waste.

As a 3D fashion designer, your role involves creating digital representations of fashion designs, visualising them on virtual models, and ensuring their aesthetic appeal and accuracy. Proficiency in 3D modelling software, an eye for design, and attention to detail are essential. Staying updated with 3D design technology is crucial.

Experienced 3D fashion designers can advance to senior positions or specialise in areas like footwear or accessories. They may collaborate with fashion tech and virtual reality companies, playing a pivotal role in enhancing efficiency and sustainability in fashion design.

Fashion Photographer

Visuals form the backbone of the fashion industry, and fashion careers in photography represent specialised domains within the broader field of photography. Fashion photographers partner with brands and models to craft captivating imagery for the fashion world. They demonstrate a profound grasp of modern fashion and photography techniques alongside proficient photo editing skills.

Fashion photographers skillfully capture media content for digital and print platforms, showcasing accessories, models, and fashion brands on and off the runway. They collaborate closely with designers, stylists, makeup artists, editors, and models to curate captivating visuals. While proficiency in operating a camera is the fundamental skill needed, expertise in lighting and composition is paramount for fashion photographers. They must possess a creative vision and the ability to collaborate effectively.

Photographer Danielle Mbonu has solidified her presence in the professional photography sphere over the last six years. Her passion for fashion and photography seamlessly merged, propelling her into the world of fashion photography. Collaborations with renowned brands such as Nike, Off-white, Theophilo, Abiola Olusola Studio, and I Am Isigo showcase her unwavering commitment to this dynamic field, and her trajectory shows no signs of slowing down.

“There is space for everyone, so keep going and keep doing what you love because someone is always watching.” 

Fashion photographers are the artistic architects behind a brand’s or publication’s visual identity. Through their lens, they weave narratives, evoke emotions, and encapsulate the very soul of fashion collections.

Within fashion photography, there are distinct avenues to explore, including editorial, advertising, and runway photography. Specialising in one of these niches can be a stepping stone to thriving photography fashion careers or working as a creative director.

Textile Fabric Designer 

Textile designers breathe life into fabrics, turning blank canvases into vibrant masterpieces through their intricate motifs. Whether crafted digitally or by hand, these artists possess a profound understanding of fibres, dyes, colours, and the intricate processes of fabric production.

Adebusola Ekoko, recognising the need for diverse fabric options, founded Grapes Pattern Bank due to the limited accessibility to a wide range of textiles.

 “I started grapes pattern bank to give designers full control over their collections. They can bring to life exactly what is in their mind, inspiring the prints and picking out fabrics that truly tell their story.” 

Adebusola started  Grapes Pattern Bank to grant designers full autonomy over their collections. Being a surface pattern designer means more to her than just a means to make money. 

“Make sure it is something you are passionate about… don’t go into it with your focus on money; focus on delivering the best service/product, and then the money will follow.”

To embark on a textile design career, you must craft patterns, prints, and textures for clothing, accessories, and home textiles. Your task includes creating original designs and modifying existing ones to match particular fashion collections. Creativity, artistic flair, and a deep understanding of fabrics are essential for textile designers. You must also be proficient in software design and stay updated on textile trends.

The future of our fashion careers

These diverse fashion careers are the threads that intricately weave the tapestry of the fashion industry, forming a vibrant canvas that extends far beyond the conventional roles of designers and models. They embody the industry’s evolution and responsiveness to a changing world, proving that every individual has a niche, a calling, and a purpose, irrespective of whether they conform to the traditional archetype of a fashion career.

Even if these alternative fashion pathways haven’t yet graced your career radar, consider becoming a beacon of insight for friends and family who are enthusiastic about the fashion world. By doing so, you’re opening doors to previously unexplored possibilities and championing the diverse talents and roles that underpin the fashion world.

In delving deeper into these career avenues, we unearth the layers beneath the glamorous facade, discovering the unsung heroes who bring fashion to life. These careers underscore the industry’s adaptability, fusion of technology and creativity, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. By recognising and celebrating these facets, we enrich our understanding of fashion, transforming it from a mere showcase of aesthetics into a tapestry woven from myriad skills, passions, and dreams.


  • Omotola Saba

    Hi, Omotola here, the human form of the 100 Emoji and the fashion and beauty writer at Marie Claire Nigeria. She started writing for fun and merged it with her love for fashion, and beauty. She's mostly at home, picking up yet another new hobby, scrolling through pinterest, laughing with her family or at dad jokes, or sleeping.

    View all posts
  • Grace Hans-Bello

    In love with all things artsy and beautiful. That, of course, includes the women I write about.

    View all posts
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