What is a Fashion Consultant? (and how do I become one?)

If you google the term “fashion consultant job description,” you’ll mostly find fashion stylist or personal shopper job descriptions. Yes, this is a type of fashion consultant. But in reality there’s so much more to fashion consultancy beyond styling. 

So, in this article, we’ll explore the role of a fashion consultant in the industry and what it takes to become one (and work freelance remotely!).

Let’s get started!

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.

Table Of Contents

What is a Fashion Consultant?

In a nutshell, a fashion consultant is a highly skilled and experienced professional who provides their expertise to clients. These clients can be anyone – from individuals, existing businesses, start-up businesses, or even fellow aspiring fashion designers. 

A fashion consultant’s field of expertise can be any fashion related topics (or a combination of a few) tailored to the unique needs and goals of their clients within the fashion industry. In reality, the list of possible fashion consultant niches is endless, but here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Trend Analysis: Staying up-to-date with the latest fashion trends, colors, fabrics, and styles. Analyzing market trends and consumer preferences to help clients make informed decisions about their designs or fashion-related ventures.
  • Styling and Wardrobe Curation: Working as a personal stylist or shopper and assisting in creating a personalized wardrobe that suits their client’s body type, lifestyle, and personal style. They provide guidance on selecting clothing, accessories, and even makeup and hair styling.
  • Brand Development: Helping fashion designers and brands establish their unique identity in the market. They assist with brand positioning, branding strategies, and creating a visual identity.
  • Collection Development: Helping fashion companies develop collections that appeal to their target audience. They provide input on garment design, fabric selection, develop color palettes, and in some cases, source manufacturers.
  • Market Research: Conducting market research to identify opportunities and gaps in the fashion market. They help clients understand their target demographic and create products that cater to their needs and preferences.
  • Networking and Industry Connections: Providing extensive industry connections and introducing clients to relevant contacts, such as manufacturers, suppliers, and retail buyers.

A fashion consultant helps their clients navigate the fashion industry successfully by bringing their expertise and industry insights that can save time, money, and effort while helping individuals and businesses achieve their fashion-related goals.

What’s the Difference Between A Fashion Consultant and A Fashion Designer (or TD, PD, etc)?

Ultimately, it’s just semantics. Some people use “fashion consultant” as a term that envelops a lot of tasks. 

However, the biggest difference is that a consultant tends to, well, “consult!” While a designer, technical design, product developer, etc, does more execution. Yes, they may also consult, but they’ll implement too.

For example, fashion consultants might work with a startup brand and tell them that leopard print with pops of neon are trending, but they wouldn’t actually design the collection. They may do some line reviews and consult them on what edits to make, but they’re not the ones executing.

Alternatively, a fashion designer would be the one drawing the flats, putting the range together, and more. And yes, during this time, that designer would likely provide input, or “consult” on the design direction, etc.

It can get very murky as to which role is which, and as a freelance fashion designer, you’re likely doing both. 

How to Become a Fashion Consultant: A Step-by-step Guide

With a role description that’s so diverse, you might be thinking, where do I even start? 

Here are the steps to build your career as a fashion consultant:

  1. Find Your Niche
  2. Gain Industry Experience
  3. Create a Consultancy Portfolio
  4. Build a Professional Network
how to be a fashion consultant

1. Find Your Niche

The very first step to becoming a fashion consultant is zeroing in on your niche. 

Take time to consider where your expertise lies – or what aspect of the fashion industry excites you the most that can be beneficial for other people working in or wanting to enter the fashion industry. This could be anything from the list I shared with you above, to any other fashion-related expertise you might have. 

For more specific help, there’s a chapter in my Ultimate Guide to Being a Freelance Fashion Designer that will help you figure out your services and pick a niche.

2. Gain Industry Experience 

If you’ve read other guides on how to become a fashion consultant, most of them probably told you to get a degree. But the truth is, you actually DO NOT need a degree from a fancy fashion school to work as a fashion consultant. The key to becoming a good fashion consultant is not learning HOW to do it but having hands-on experience in the field.

And if you don’t have any industry experience yet, you can always start from somewhere! Look into internships, entry-level positions, or freelance opportunities within your chosen niche (and yes, you can start freelancing even as a complete beginner). You can also start by creating your own projects and collaborating with people around you to start building your network and portfolio. 

By being hands-on in the field, you’ll be able to work with established fashion professionals, mentors, or even people working behind the scenes like manufacturers and suppliers. Learning from these experienced professionals provides you with insights and skills that can’t be acquired through formal education alone.

3. Create a Consultancy Portfolio

Build a portfolio that speaks on behalf of you. For example, if you want to work as a Fashion Brand Development Consultant, showcase a business case sample where you helped a brand from its inception to launch. 

Make sure that your portfolio reflects your niche and highlights your ability to solve fashion-related challenges creatively.

And if you need a little extra help, you can go check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Fashion Portfolio.

4. Build a Professional Network

Networking is a crucial aspect of becoming a fashion consultant. You can do this by attending fashion events, industry seminars, and trade shows to connect with fellow professionals, designers, suppliers, and potential clients. 

You can also leverage platforms such as Upwork and Linkedin to expand your online presence and connect with industry professionals (and even score clients!).

If you want to gain more insight on how to navigate these websites, I did an interview with Aashika, a lingerie and lace specialist who has worked in the industry for over five years and is now looking to build a career as a specialist lingerie and lace design consultant.

Working as a Freelance Fashion Consultant

If you’re curious if it’s possible to work remotely as a freelance fashion consultant, the answer is YES. 

In fact, fashion consultancy is one of the BEST remote fashion jobs in the industry. Thanks to social media and online communication tools like Zoom and Google Meet, all you need is a computer – the rest depends on your expertise and communication skills.

Take Paige, for example, who now charges $85/hr as a Freelance Apparel Designer & Creative Consultant. Paige specializes in commercial and custom apparel design, focusing on Kids & Womenswear and has fashion brands lining up her doorstep (even during the pandemic!).

Becoming a Successful Fashion Consultant

While the term “expert” might scare you off, the truth is, in order to be a successful fashion consultant, you have to continuously learn while working. And I’m not saying you need to work for decades just to make sure that you know EVERYTHING. A lot of times, all it takes is the initiative to do what you can to make it work.

Great fashion consultants are those who understand that expertise is a journey, not a destination. They are curious, adaptable, and always on the lookout for new trends and opportunities. They actively engage with clients, the industry, and their own growth, making them valuable assets to their clients.

And as I like to say, “Don’t wait until you’re an expert to get into the arena. It’s getting into the arena that makes you an expert.”

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