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Getting ahead in production

Production is one of the most important stages of retail - without a great product, none of the other departments can do their job. But it is also one of the most diverse and rarely understood departments in the industry. Here, we asked DPT expert Claire Schofield from Fashion Retail Personnel what advice she has for anyone looking to progress their career in production.


At which companies should I look?

There are two main ways you can get into and progress within production, one is through working for supplier to the high street the other is working for a brand. Both avenues will give you key experiences but the principle and understanding of the process of production will be the same.

When choosing which supplier to work for, look at the opportunities to travel within the role. Understanding how production works is truly only learnt when you have visited the factory. This also applies to the branded side of the industry but you are more likely to get exposure to travelling on the supply side of the business.


What other positions can I look at with my experience?

Sometimes there is a crossover between production and merchandising on the supply-side, not so much on the branded side, as merchandising can be more about numbers than product in this case.

Product development might come into play within your role when dealing with costings and trims. Exposing you to either a product development position or a trims coordinator role for the future.


Am I restricted to working in London?

No, production happens actually within the factory which could be based anywhere across the world.  When dealing in production for the UK you have to rely on your skill and knowledge of what is happening abroad or in other parts of the country to manage the process.


What are employers expecting to see on my employment history?

Ideally a fashion related degree or a junior entry-level I work placement within a similar position. You will be able to progress quicker within the industry by working with various product types and different factory bases to give you a good all-round understanding of how each country manufactures their garments.


What else should I include?

On your CV you should always include any work related visits to factories explaining what's your goal within this visit was and how you achieved it. Always highlight the different manufacturing bases and textiles you have worked with.


Interview preparation

Know the countries in which the company manufactures out of prior to the interview (there will be different lead times to deal with) and if they work CMT (Cut, Make & Trim) etc.

For suppliers always understand what clients are working with, what they produce, the volume to which they produce and what they are looking to fill with this position. For example, is the reason this job has come up because there is a problem within the production process that needs solving.

For branded positions, visit a store and look inside the garment labels to see where they produced from to get an understanding of the level of quality of product they work with.


In the interview

Give key examples of how you have improved production for particular clients,  or countries that the business you are interviewing for is working with.  When giving your answers always relate back to what the business requirements are.

Give good examples of how you are proficient and detailed in following the critical path of the product. Also explaining how you have worked previously or currently with various different departments within your head office. Your way of working may differ slightly to their way so make sure that you prove you are flexible in your working approach.