Working as a Tailor

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We have put together this guide on working as Tailor to help you think about if this is the job for you, our summary of finding are:

1. Tailors produce custom-made items of clothing for, with an emphasis on creating garments of the highest-quality.

2. As well as making garments, duties also working with clients to draw up a design and fitting the final piece.

3. Independent tailors, will also have to deal with the financial and administrative side of the business.

4. Historically, tailors have got into the business through apprenticeships with master tailors, and this remains an option today.

5. As well as getting a place under a local master tailor, you can also apply for a place on the government Apprenticeship Scheme.

6. Alongside professional experience, you will also need to demonstrate a keen interest in fashion and the latest design trends to get a job.

7. Tailors can earn from £16,000 a year, though Savile Row specialists can take home much more.

 

What do Tailors Do?

For centuries tailors have produced custom-made items of clothing for both men and women, with an emphasis on creating garments of the highest-quality.

While most clothes are now factory-produced, qualified and experienced tailors are still in demand, especially at the higher end of the fashion market.

As a tailor, some of your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • Liaising directly with clients, agreeing on a style and design for a new garment
  • Creating a design, producing a pattern and then making a finished garment
  • Fitting the garments to the client and making adjustments if necessary
  • Invoicing clients and dealing with business administration and other paperwork
  • Researching new designs and fashion trends

As a rule, tailors work standard 40-hour-weeks, though if a project has a strict deadline, you could find yourself working long, often unsociable hours.

Skills and Qualifications

Historically, tailors have got into the business through apprenticeships with master tailors, and this remains an option today.

So, you can either arrange your own placement with a local, established tailor, or check out the government-run Apprenticeship Scheme for tailors taking on trainees. While pay rates for official Apprentices is low, you will gain valuable on-the-job experience and this should be a good way of opening the door to future opportunities.

Note, however, that competition for apprenticeship schemes is tough, particularly if you want to learn your trade with a top craftsman. As such, it may be a good idea to gain one – or several – related qualifications in order to stand out from the crowd.

Colleges across the UK offer both short and long courses in subjects such as Fashion and Textiles and Art and Design, both of which will give your career a head-start.

However, without doubt the best way to get started is with the pre-apprenticeship course offered by Newham College. Run in partnership with Savile Row Bespoke, the 18-week course gives students the chance to learn alongside the very best, though, unsurprisingly competition for places is intense.  

Aside from formal qualifications, you will also need to have a range of associated skills in order to succeed in as a tailor. For instance, you should have:

  • A keen interest in textiles, fashion and the latest design trends
  • Excellent communications skills and the ability to work directly with clients
  • A strong eye for detail and a high level of accuracy in everything you do
  • A smart personal appearance

Pay and Benefits

How much you get paid as a tailor will depend on several things, not least how experienced you are and who your clients are. Starting salaries for tailors can be as low as £12,000 a year, with even those with several years’ experience earning little over £18,000 a year.

At the other end of the scale, however, rates of pay are much better. If you get a job creating bespoke pieces in a Savile Row tailor shop then you may be paid £50,000 a year or more, while if you go freelance and manage to secure some top-end clients, you can set your own rates and earn much more.

Aside from the pay, the other main benefit of working as a tailor is getting paid to follow your passion and put your creative skills to good use each and every day. As a tailor you will also get a high level of satisfaction from your work, particularly when you finish a difficult piece for a demanding client.

Finding Work

If you’re lucky, the tailor’s shop with which you trained as an apprentice will be able to take you on as a fully-fledged tailor, though for obvious reasons this is not always possible.

However, jobs for skilled tailors are routinely advertised. Good places to look for new openings include industry publications such as Textile Month, the local and national press and specialist fashion industry recruitment websites such as Drapers Jobs or use UK Jobs Guides online search bar for local job adverts.

Alternatively if you decide that being a Tailor is not for you then we have other fashion job guides for example Fashion Journalism career guide, could be an alternative option for you.

However we say to everyone never give up your dreams keep trying and they may come true, there is other work you can find, plenty of UK Jobs if you look around in all sorts of industries.

If you need to help from your local Job Centre then we have them all listed for you with contact numbers, maps and local jobs.


 
 
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