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So, You Want To Go Into Fashion? An Open Letter to Prospective Fashion Students, Professionals

By Javari Miller, Contributing Writer

My name is Javari. Some of you may know me as Javier or Cousteau. I’m writing to you because I hear that you are interested in fashion, but don’t know if you want to make the jump. Maybe out of fear of one thing or another, or maybe because you just haven’t been introduced to all the different avenues yet. Here, I’ll try and clear things up as best I can.

You see, good friends, there are many paths, but just like any other field, you have to look for them. If you do not fully embrace your new life as a person in this industry and accept that there are no guarantees here, then you shouldn’t read past this point.

Almost every time I’ve ever told someone I was a fashion design major here at Howard I either heard that your parents would kill you if you chose this field or that you would, but just aren’t sure things would pan out. Both are sound reasons as to why one wouldn’t chase or live out their dreams, but they are sad reasons as well. I say this because most of the people I’ve talked to actually have prowess and could for sure find a solid place in fashion.

So, your parents won’t necessarily agree with your decision to be a fashion major. It’s not their job to. It is your job to make them believe in your decision as much as you do. If you wholeheartedly believe that you can be a force then you already have a jump on the next person. Some people get into fashion for the wrong reasons (money, clout, attention) but people who have ill intentions normally fizzle out or never even get going. You have to have a tenacious love for fashion, not just passion. If you have said love, then it will show and no sooner than the time you start, you’ll see progress. Up until you get to the point where your parents have no choice but to believe and ultimately support your dream.

I am the oldest of eight children and neither of my parents has a credit score above 620. How hard do you believe it was for them to sign off on loans to send me to school for fashion? Very. Slowly but surely, though, I gained more experience and I got hungrier with each new task, whether it was self given or that of a school assignment. After a while I began to notice my parents let their guard down and start trusting that I’d do well for myself in the fashion industry. That’s all you can ask for. Then it’s up to you what you do with their approval. You can use it as a motivating force to keep progressing to height after height, or you can be happy that they came around and continue to on as a fashion major. The program here is just like any other fashion program. It is what you make of it. You will not learn all you need to learn in the classroom but in the same token you will learn key things about yourself and the prospects you have as a fashion professional. It is what you make it. What will you do to separate yourself? Are these just classes to you? Do you dread going there or are you there early and trying to stay longer? Small things to consider but it’s always the small things that show the most.

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Now, maybe your parents are a little more relaxed and want to see you choose what your interest. If you are afraid of what’s next after you jump into fashion and want to play it safe, then there is no shame in that. But if your heart isn’t in the career you have laid out before you, then is that really safe after all? You can’t be afraid of what’s next because in fashion because you’re supposed to be what’s next. You my friend, are popular culture. You are what they’re paying to see: your version of world. If you are afraid that it won’t happen in your timing then I’ll tell you something two wise men told me: The only thing separating you and what you want is time. Are you willing to stay the course long enough to make it?

You’ve probably heard that fashion is a cut throat, classist, ugly and very racist industry; this is where you and I come in. As you read before, we are popular culture. Our story has always been all the rage. Who better to tell it than the ones living it? Nearly every decision you make is one someone at Versace probably is dying to know about. For two reasons: You are the inspiration and you are their target audience. They pay attention to your everyday life, just as you live it, down to where you work and what you do there. (My professor taught me that.)If you pay close attention, you are also who they’ve been shutting out. No coincidence. This is to keep your ideas as their garments and keep anyone from ever knowing who did the real work. An ugly reality.

You have an opportunity now more than ever to voice and portray your side of things, but it’s all in how much you want to see your vision come to life and on how grand a scale. That part, friend, is all up to you.

Despite common misconceptions, fashion is hard work. Again, I’ll tell you something a wise man once told me: “When your work and play come together, you never work a day in your life.” We have fun, yes, but the real professionals have just found a way to work fashion into their everyday schedule. If you love something and want to do it, please indulge. You are the catalyst for your life. If you want to build a certain lifestyle around a career in fashion, obsess over it, learn it, always love it and never lose your will to make clothes.


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