Not too long ago, an aspiring young designer from a top-tier school applied for a job with a leading fashion house and was rebuffed. A few years later, after working for a small, nonluxury fashion-design label, he applied again to the name brand house—and clinched the job. What made the difference? This time around, he had developed a portfolio of exciting designs and assembled a beautiful, glossy book to present them, not only displaying great design sensibilities but also demonstrating commitment and determination.
Fashion firms are crying out for top talent. Sure, there is no shortage of young, talented “stylistas” anxious to become the next Tom Ford or Vera Wang. But finding professionals with true creativity who can blend their right-brain talents with the left-brain demands of a range of roles in the increasingly complex fashion business—well, that’s a different story.
The race for top talent will define the next decade for the luxury and fashion industries. A new study by The Boston Consulting Group and the Business of Fashion (BOF) finds that many executives in fashion and luxury, like their peers in other industries, are very concerned about securing talented professionals: 50 percent of respondents believe that they lack access to the best creative talent.
This seems to be an especially pressing concern for smaller independent firms. They worry not only about filling creative roles but also about acquiring the skills needed to support a wide range of functions.
Earlier research by BCG confirms that companies with superior hiring, development, management, and retention practices see clear economic benefits. (See Creating People Advantage 2012: Mastering HR Challenges in a Two-Speed World, BCG report, October 2012.) For example, firms that excel in recruiting enjoy revenue growth that is 3.5 times faster than that of other companies. They also demonstrate profit margins that are twice as robust as those of the laggards. (See Exhibit 1.)