The days of mass sending your applications to nearly every single brand hiring just to try to get an entry-level job are being numbered. With top fashion brands looking for the most qualified and creative, they have now turned to building relationships with schools and companies to funnel their search.
If you would want a higher chance to work at Tommy Hilfiger and their design headquarters then you should consider applying to Kingston University. The students there have collaborated on multiple projects with the PVH-owned brand. Brioni, a company managed by Kering, has a partnership with London’s Royal College of Art that holds a talent competition each year that helps them recruit interns.
These are just a couple examples of how many top luxury fashion labels are developing programs with some of the best universities. The feeder programs such as, Kering’s program with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion, to Sup de Luxe at Paris’ École des Dirigeants et des créateurs d’entrepise, that offers a master’s and bachelor’s degree in global luxury management. ECF is financially supported by Richemont-owned Cartier. These feeder programs are now the best way possible to land an entry-level position at some of the top fashion brands.
“It’s more about partnerships these days,” says Karen Harvey, who is an executive recruiter who assigns candidates in positions on the creative and business side of fashion. “Through these long-term relationships, companies get to meet with the students more than once or twice. It’s not just about glancing through their portfolios.”
With different schools offering different opportunities with a variety of brands. There is some list of formal and informal partnerships between labels and some of the top fashion schools.
Kering works with brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Alexander Mcqueen, and Brioni. Kering has formal partnerships with HEC in Paris and London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. The partnership with HEC they sponsor the ‘Kering Luxury Certificate’. This program has seminars led by Kering managers and even holds visits to Kering brands. The program ends with an annual competition judged by the HEC professors and Kering directors. In 2017, there were 39 participants admitted into the program and according to Kering, this ultimately leads to appointments within the group. The program with London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion has a master’s course in sustainability. It also has the annual Kering award for Sustainable Fashion, which is a prize and also could include an internship placement. They also have an annual talk given by a Kering executive.
“A key objective of the group is to attract, recruit and develop the best people for every aspect of our activities, wherever they may be,” a spokesperson for the group told Business of Fashion. “We want to create an environment where each of us is encouraged to learn, to grow, to fulfill our potential and to have a positive impact. Diversity in the workplace — of gender, nationality, age, background, sexual orientation and talent — enriches us all and is a key driver of creativity and growth.”
LVMH works with Louis Vuitton, Céline, Givenchy, Dior, Loewe, and Marc Jacobs. LVMH has plenty of partnerships that vary. They recruit from traditional design schools including Institut Français de la Mode, Central Saint Martins and Parsons School of Design. At the ESSEC business school near Paris, students have a chance to work on projects with an LVMH brand manager. On the creative side, LVMH recruit’s interns and entry-level designers from Central Saint Martins and Parsons School of Design. LVMH launched ‘Sustainability and Innovation in Luxury’ in 2016 which is a partnership with Central Saint Martins to find “cutting-edge solutions to address future sustainability and innovation in luxury”.
“The immediate benefit for a brand is the ability to learn from the talent and to be able to hire the individual,” Burak Cakmak, the dean of fashion of Parsons, says. “But it will always be a small number of students who achieve that. No matter if you are directly hired, what matters is what you have on your CV and diversity is critical.”
PVH works with top brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. PVH has a 10-week summer internship program that involves 300 to 350 interns at its New York location. They also hold similar programs with its European locations as well. PVH has a history of hiring 20 to 25 percent of its interns each year. Calvin Klein hires 50 new interns each semester. “They do real work,” says Dave Kozel, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at PVH.