Mark Bumgarner on pursuing a career in the fashion industry

Published June 14, 2021, 4:38 PM

by John Legaspi

The fashion designer looks back on his journey with his muse Heart Evangelista

Heart Evangelista and Mark Bumgarner

Pursuing a dream is never easy. No matter where you sit in life, there are always challenges to overcome that there is really no point in comparing one’s path with the other. That’s a true story in the case of couturier Mark Bumgarner.


Unlike many who have a secure footing when it comes to their fashion dreams, Mark has a totally different background that is so far from the industry, auto racing to be exact. But after meeting industry professionals, the designer in him has awoken, and so are the hurdles in going after his passion.

Contrary to what people may think, the 30-year-old fashion designer sets it straight that he never had it easy when it comes to building his brand. In a conversation with his friend and muse Heart Evangelista, Mark looks back on his journey to becoming one of the toasts of the local fashion scene and gives a few pieces of advice for anyone who dreamed of becoming a noted fashion designer like he is today. Here are some of the things we picked up.

Go for apprenticeship

The best first step Mark advises to fresh fashion graduates is to take an apprenticeship. While he never had the opportunity to take on fashion education and internships, Mark knows that both are essential in widening a budding designer’s knowledge when it comes to the ropes of the business and the industry.

“I didn’t go to fashion school in the beginning… I did everything from the nitty gritty. If I could go back, I wish I took fashion school because you need to go to fashion school to know the basics,” he says.”Get an apprenticeship and expect to work a lot.”

Don’t just go for the glamor

Social media is the greatest illusion we have these days. So, if you’re going for the industry with just events, parties, and famous people in your mind, then you may want to rethink things. Sure, all of those come in a designer’s life. But in order for those to happen, one must be ready to put on the work.

“A lot of people think that it is all about the glamor that it is fun and easy to make all these things. But there are so many layers building and leading up to it,” Mark says. “I think, as long as you’re ready for the hard work and you’re not going into it for the glamor, then you might be cut out for it. If you’re not ready, you have to think again.”

Prove it to yourself

Apart from mastering how the business goes and translating a sketch to an actual dress, mental fortitude is also important. Believing in oneself plays a major role in making it into the industry, especially in Mark’s story where he transitioned from crossing finish lines in many car races to assisting designers backstage during runway shows in the beginning of his fashion career.

“It wasn’t all spoon-fed, which a lot of people think,” Mark points out. “It is all about proving yourself, you can only do it for yourself. No one can help you do that.”

It is a constant battle

As people continue to change what they put on themselves every day, the role of a designer never stops, and it just continues to get harder as you move forward. That’s why it is important that you love every part of it, not just the good but also the terrifying parts.

“The harder it is to go where you are, the more fulfilling it is. I feel that way because I had to do it that way. It’s like if you don’t work hard enough for what you’re getting… you almost take it for granted,” Mark muses. “It’s not about getting there, it’s about how long you can stay there.”

Watch more of Mark’s adulting conversation with Heart here: