Success According to Professionals in the Fashion Industry
Gerber, Tara, Saiki, Diana, Career Development Quarterly
The purpose of this study was to examine career success perceived by professionals in the fashion industry. Two sets of open-ended interviews were conducted with 33 fashion industry professionals. The interviews were analyzed for success themes using a grounded approach methodology. External definitions of success mentioned were salary, promotions, sales, being seen as an expert, and having influence. Internal rewards included being innovative, maintaining integrity, and work satisfaction. Attributes identified as important for career success were motivation, flexibility, a positive attitude, networking ability, enjoying work, a mentor, self-promotion, multitasking, following instinct, dressing well, and doing research.
The fashion industry is a diverse field with many career possibilities. It is a competitive business with constant change (Dias, 2008). There has been an increase in interest among university students in the fashion profession. A fashion program at a midwestern university has seen an over 120% increase in enrollment in the last 10 years (Koch, 2006). Breitman (2006) noted this trend is not isolated to one region, citing increases in enrollment to fashion schools in New York, Los Angeles, and Massachusetts. There are many jobs available to these graduates as Americans spend almost $2 billion on apparel and $250 billion on shoes and accessories (Vogt, 2002). However, the apparel industry will annually lose more jobs in the United States than any other industry because of growing imports, new technologies, and cost-cutting measures (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2007). Training fashion students to become successful in the fashion industry becomes vital given the competition they will face upon graduation. The following study examines career success from the perspective of fashion industry professionals.
Career Success Defined
Researchers who examine career success differentiate between extrinsic and intrinsic measures. Hughes (1937) first developed these ideas labeling each broadly as objective (extrinsic) and subjective (intrinsic). Extrinsic are external rewards, such as an employee's salary or status. Intrinsic rewards are denned by the individual, such as career satisfaction. Most research focuses on the extrinsic dimensions of success, but there is a need to discuss both definitions of success as well as the relationship between these dimensions (Gunz & Heslin, 2005). The relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic success has been described as a relationship of interdependence, with some researchers emphasizing one over the other (Arthur, Khapova, & Wilderom, 2005). Australian professionals were surveyed about career success early in their careers and 9 years later. Intrinsic factors were found to be more important in determining perceived success than extrinsic factors. However, an indirect link between perceived success and extrinsic success was found. Therefore, botf» intrinsic and extrinsic variables are important when studying career success (Poole, Langan-Fox, & Omodei, 1993). Hall and Chandler (2005) developed a circular model to show the relationship between extrinsic and intrinsic parameters, where the process of extrinsic success is related to intrinsic success, which can then lead to more extrinsic success. The authors emphasized the importance as seeing a career intrinsically as a calling.
After reviewing 68 articles about career success, Arthur et al. (2005) found limited articles involved listening to participants using a qualitative research approach. Sturges (1999) studied the meaning of success according to managers using a qualitative method with the extrinsic and intrinsic concepts as a framework for analysis. Extrinsic success was defined further as material or intangible. Extrinsic material referred to measurable criteria, such as salary. Extrinsic intangible was defined as external rewards not measured easily, such as influencing others. …