Gen Z fashion students want to be their own boss on graduation

Gen Z fashion students want to be their own boss on graduation

Gen Z’s entrepreneurial and aspirational spirit in the UK is alive and well when it comes to fashion, with many wanting to run their own businesses or work for brands at the high-end of the industry.

Burberry – Spring-Summer2024 – Womenswear – Royaume-Uni – Londres – © Launchmetrics

According to a new report by the Fashion Retail Academy, its survey for Fashioning The Future showed 51% of students expressing an interest in setting up their own business after they graduate and 73% said they would most like to work for a luxury brand.

“This suggests they may be prioritising earning potential in a sector of the industry that is perceived to be higher-paying, particularly as the majority of those surveyed said that salary was important to them when looking for a job in retail”, the report said.

Meanwhile, only 30% said they would most like to work at an independent boutique, 23% said they would most like to work for a streetwear or sportswear brand, and just 15% for an e-commerce fashion retailer.

When asked what their three greatest concerns are around their future career in fashion, ‘pay not keeping pace with inflation’ ranked highest by a distance, with 67% of respondents singling it out as a concern.

Other concerns were ‘not being able to secure a job with my preferred employer’ (32%), ‘not being able to develop new skills’ (28%), ‘uncertainty over long-term job security’ (27%), ‘job role threatened by the rise of AI’ (26%) and ‘lack of flexible working options’ (23%).

Just 17% of students said ‘lack of wellbeing and mental health support’ was a concern, 15% cited ‘Diversity, Equity & Inclusion not being prioritised by employers’ and just 12% gave ‘companies not taking sufficient action on sustainability’ as a negative reason.

When asked what three things are most important to them when they look to secure a job in fashion and retail, ‘salary and other health and wellbeing benefits’ secured the biggest chunk of the vote, with 55% of respondents marking it down as important.

Among the students polled, 44% were expecting initial salaries to be between £20,000 and £24,999, while 36% were expecting a salary between £25,000 and £29,999. Only 2% of respondents expected to start on a salary of over £40,000.

Meanwhile, 48% said they would accept a less competitive salary and benefits package to work at their favourite brand, or a company closely aligned with their values.

Lee Lucas, CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, said: “Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, and with inflation in the double digits not so long ago, it’s no surprise that the greatest concern among students is their salary not keeping pace with inflation.

“At the same time, it’s interesting that almost half of respondents would take a reduced salary if it meant they could work for their favourite brands. It’s also understandable that over a quarter of students are concerned about AI given the speed at which this technology is advancing.”

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