How to get a job at one of Portland’s many smaller apparel companies.
Not everyone wants to work at a large company. Many of our students want to keep their hands on the work and the opportunity to take a product from idea to final garment. Many feel it gives them more control and creativity.
Last week we asked Adam Andreas, a senior product developer at Columbia Sportswear, how to get a job at a major company. This week we asked Erich Treeby, tailor for Wildwood and Company. Treeby graduated from the Fashion Forward program at PFI and produced his own clothing line, Favorite Son. Prior to being hired at Wildwood, he worked for 4 years as the head of alterations at Duchess Clothier.
Here’s what he had to say:
Q. In your field of work, what education, skills, and training do you seek in the ideal candidate?
A. Coursework and/or job experience with garment construction, hand sewing and pattern drafting at minimum. Specific coursework and experience with menswear tailoring (both traditional and contemporary) and familiarity with industry-standard pattern drafting systems would be ideal. Candidate should be familiar with conventional industrial seam allowances and have experience using industrial sewing machines.
Q. Does your field of work genuinely hire full time?
Q. Are there specific schools or training you recommend?
A. In Portland, I believe PFI may be the only school offering a comprehensive training program for those interested in entering the apparel industry (now that AI has closed). In general, a focus on textiles, construction, pattern drafting, and technical design/product development is more useful than conceptual fashion design and illustration.
Q. Does this job have any special requirements? (Ability to travel, shift work, special licenses, etc.)
A. Ability to work under pressure and tight timelines.
Q. Do you know other employers that hire for this or similar occupation?
A. Yes. A few area businesses that would hire individuals with sewing/tailoring experience: Duchess Clothier, Silhouette, The House of Rose.
Q. What is your entry-level salary range
A. An entry level seamster will probably earn between $11-13/hr if employed by a smaller independent company.
Q. Are there advancement and educational opportunities?
A. Absolutely. A person who demonstrates aptitude and is motivated can definitely set themselves apart from others and become eligible for higher paying positions. In my experience, most continuing education will be the responsibility of the individual (other than the skills you learn as part of the current position).
[Editor’s note: To follow Erich’s path, look for such classes as Apparel Construction, Couture and Patternmaking at PFI. To start your own apparel business, take Strategic Marketing and Branding. These can lead you to a business grant to help you launch. Now let’s enjoy a bit of hand sewing here.]