Corporate Fashion Versus Fashion Startup

Written by: Susan Hang

Corporate Fashion Versus Fashion Start-Up - Zanita Studio

Contrary to the assumptions you may have already built up, working in fashion isn’t as simple as working in fashion. There are two sides to every story and in this case, a corporate fashion environment can be as peculiar as night and day when compared to a fashion startup.

Now that I’ve officially been on both sides of the fence, I can validate the biggest advantages and drawbacks within each group. When determining the kind of company you should gravitate towards, it’s best to take into account your personality and whether you’re comfortable with ambiguity or prefer structure. It wasn’t long before I knew which backdrop was primal for me since freedom is ingrained in me and I loathe austere bureaucracy. Anyway, clothing aside, here are the pros and cons of Corporate versus Startups.

Corporate Fashion

One of the best things about working for a large corporation (anywhere, not just in fashion) is having access to its seemingly endless resources. The cash flows, health benefits, and retirement assets are perks that are basically impossible to compete with. However, with the tremendous amount of backing, there also comes a lot of control, often too many hands involved in little things, and several restrictions. Everything becomes a process, which can start to feel mundane. Let’s break it down further:


  • Affordable health benefits that don’t suck
  • Unmatchable retirement benefits
  • Structured process for annual reviews, which determine bonuses and raises
  • Support in all areas needed, most importantly IT
  • Rigid training schedule, which outlines your daily tasks and ensures you’re knowledgeable
  • Hard to get fired


  • Everyone is replaceable, yourself included
  • Inability to be fully creative and self-expressive
  • Robot environment, especially those damn cubicles
  • Too much structure, everything requires approval – even your work hours
  • Brain-draining and exhausting due to all of the above

Corporate Fashion Versus Fashion Start-Up - Zanita Studio

Startup Fashion

On this side of the fence lies the most serendipitous of fashion opps. Although resources are naturally limited in a startup, there’s a lot more freedom you don’t often get in corporate. And what you do gain is almost nearly impossible to obtain the former yet so paramount in a career. This includes a stronger self-worth, which results in the ability to channel your creativity, working directly with the heads, and feeling the impact of everything you do (and being acknowledged for it). However, not everything is margaritas and sunshines..


  • Creativity is encouraged and implemented
  • Smaller teams of highly-calibrated individuals yielding exceptional results
  • Ability to learn so much more due to wearing many hats
  • Resources can be freely allocated without requiring too many approvals
  • Less structure = more fun, more energy
  • Gratitude is actually felt from the top down


  • Not as many resources to provide world class benefits
  • Instability (the business could be headed anywhere, up or down, at any given time)
  • Little structure so everything can feel like a balancing act
  • Learn as you go since there isn’t formal training and everyone is learning in sync
  • Less resources again = no formal IT, HR, etc


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Image Source Credits – Marie Claire, Zara