The fashion industry is vast, especially for entrepreneurial spirits trying to break in. Do you want to be a designer? Perhaps marketing and public relations are a better niche for you? How about photography or styling? Or maybe you just love fashion, but don’t have a career in mind? It can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. If you’re a curious novice eager to break into the fashion industry, here’s a list of must-read fashion books ranging from how-to guides to biographies of the industry’s most lionized personalities.
The Fashion Business Manual: An Illustrated Guide to Building a Fashion Brand by Fashionary
Published in 2018 by Fashionary, The Fashion Business Manual is an illustrated guide covering all aspects of the fashion industry. The how-to manual walks readers through the entire workflow of running a fashion-oriented brand from conceptualization to retailing. In addition, this is a great, supplementary read especially for students in Fashion Essentials.
Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior by Christian Dior
You don’t have to be into fashion to know the name Dior or that it’s synonymous with luxury. Dior revolutionized women’s fashion with “The New Look,” which highlighted womens’ natural silhouettes and curves — considered scandalous in post-World War II Paris. Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior is an invitation by the man himself to take a peek behind the veil into a brand that has been one of fashion’s longest-standing pillars.
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone
Kelly Cutrone is a fashion publicist who has appeared on MTV’s The Hills and as a judge on America’s Next Top Model. A fashion publicist cultivates relationships with journalists, editors, and influencers to attract media attention for brands and labels. Published through HarperOne in 2010, Cutrone gives no holds barred advice to women attempting to establish their careers in fashion.
Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht
Aliza Licht started out on Twitter in 2009 under the moniker DKNY PR Girl. Before “going viral” was a thing, Licht amassed a social media following that launched her career in fashion public relations. Leave Your Mark is Licht’s story of her rise to social media stardom. She gives a backstage glimpse into the prestigious agencies where she’s worked, and a preview of the role social media would play in the future of public relations as the career evolved to keep pace with the digital age.
The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion
Featuring interviews with fashion royalty such as Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfield, The Teen Vogue Handbook is an introduction to the fashion world geared towards teenage readers. The book provides an overview of careers in beauty, designing, editing, modeling, photography, and styling with anecdotes and advice provided by the industry’s leading experts.
The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History by Robin Givhan
Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan recounts the events of November 28, 1973. That night, five American designers took to a runway at the Palace of Versailles in France as underdogs and emerged as victors. Readers may not get much insight into fashion as a business, but The Battle of Versailles perfectly captures a moment in the industry’s illustrious history.
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business by Mary Gehlhar
Mary Gehlhar, fashion division director of Gen Art, has helped many young designers as they worked to get their design businesses off the ground. Released in 2008 through Kaplan Publishing, the how-to guide has been modernized and reissued to stay current with fashion trends. A new edition was released in January 2021 with an updated take on the landscape of the fashion business post-pandemic.
Influence by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Ever wonder what inspired the Olsen twins to abandon their lucrative Hollywood careers for the world of high-end fashion? Influence provides rare insight into the private but brilliant minds behind The Row.
The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever by Teri Agins
Wall Street Journal fashion reporter and columnist Teri Agins takes a journalistic lens to the business machine behind fashion and carefully deconstructs how designers have had to scale their genius to meet mass marketing needs in order to stay competitive as big box stores flooded the market.
The Fashion Book by Phaidon Editors
An A-Z guide that tours nearly 200 years of fashion history. It’s a definitive collection of every figure who has influenced or impacted the industry, from Coco Chanel to Lady Gaga.
If these books haven’t quite quenched your thirst for knowledge and you want to accelerate your fashion career, check out Yellowbrick’s Fashion Industry Essentials.