Missouri State professor Michele Granger wrote the book on breaking into the fashion industry -- three times over. "Fashion Entrepreneur-ship: Retail Business Planning" and "The Fashion Intern" are both in their second editions. Plus, "Fashion: The Industry and Its Careers" is a must-read for anyone curious about a career in the field.

 

What's a good first step for breaking into the fashion industry?

Retail work -- especially for kids that are still in high school. You get exposed to the products, management and sales. For college students, it's a step they can take before they move in at a higher level after graduation.

 

What degrees should undergrads consider?

There are really two primary avenues. One is a degree in fashion design or fashion product development; the other is fashion merchandising. Design skews toward the artistic, creative people. Merchandising is more of the business end.

 

The fashion industry seems to embody myriad industries -- from finance to creative design.

Fashion is a lifestyle. It runs the gamut: what you put in your house, your stationary, what you put on your body. Add to that an incredible amount of news and journalism about the industry -- publications and websites. If you figure out your skill set, you'll likely find a direction within the industry.

 

Is there room for altruism in a fashion industry career?

There are more and more non-profits and others within the industry doing wonderful work: Housing Works and TOMS are just two. A lot of students say, "I don't want to be part of an industry that's frivolous and wasteful." We make sure to cover moral and ethical issues in our coursework at Missouri State, and any good program should do that.