Working in the fashion industry is not as glamorous as the media shows it to be. We aren’t all dressed to the nines in 5 inch heels, holding a Starbucks double shot soy latte in our hands. I usually rock up to work in jeans and a t-shirt, make myself an instant coffee and spend my mornings flicking through the Metro rather than Vogue… Très chic!
I certainly live by some rules and home truths that you may find more useful than what films such as The Devil Wears Prada portray about the fashion world.
1. First things first, you need to always be yourself. When working in fashion you can easily get caught up in the latest trends, ‘it’ pieces and the newest Chloe bag. It’s important not to loose yourself in the process. Being such a creative industry, its not necessary to dress up in a 2-piece suit. As long as your attitude remains professional, you can show your personal style easily, whether it be in yoga pants and trainers or a skirt and heels – whatever you feel comfortable in!
White off the shoulder top – ASOS, Blue ‘Mom’ jeans – Topshop, Black skinny scarf – Zara, Black espadrilles – New Look, Studded black belt – Topshop, Black leather bag – Reiss
2. ‘How you wear’ is more valuable than ‘who you wear’. Don’t worry much about having this season’s Gucci. High street brands produce some great dupes, inspired by catwalk trends. So you can strut your stuff in Primark and look just as chic as if you were in Chanel.
3. Working in fashion is no walk in the park. Some people assume that studying and working in fashion is easy. If this is what you think then this is not the industry for you. Prepare for stress, and little switch off time. Particularly fashion week seasons. On top of this, you have work hard to gain at least 2 internships (at least 3 months long – unpaid!) otherwise, it can be difficult to find a job. An internship can provide great opportunities. I made a good impression whilst interning for Georgia Hardinge and after graduating university she hired me as her Studio Manager.
4. Fashion Week doesn’t always live up to glamorous expectations. Working behind the scenes is nothing like attending the shows. You are way too stressed to look your best, so go to your fail safe outfits, but that’s fine – because you’re way to rushed off your feet to stop and pose for street style photographers anyway! Also, you run on caffeine due to lack of sleep (and weekends) in the lead up to the show.
5. Celebrities are just people. It is important to keep your cool around celebs, influencers and models. Bear in mind that they are probably there to do a job, like you. Asking for selfies & autographs is rather unprofessional in a working environment. Keep your inner fan girl composed and professional… then brag about it to friends and family later!
6. It’s who you know… Networking is too important to miss out on, so make sure you always have a stack of business cards on you at ALL times. Ask for a card in return also, you never know when you may need their help or to cash in on a favour. Collect business cards like you would Pokemon!
7. It’s a smaller industry than you may think. Make an effort to impress anyone you may meet. Whether it be your boss, your tutors, your internship mentor, your colleagues… whoever! Everyone knows someone who is friends with someone in Fashion and word travels fast. If you make a bad reputation for yourself, it could come back to haunt you later in your career.
8. You will have existing Fashion contacts. Find them. Use them. As I said above, it is easy to find someone with a link to the fashion industry. When I was in school and wanted industry experience, I was able to work with a team of accessory designers. I asked my mum, who asked her best friend, who had a cousin who knew the head designer. Ask around and see what you can find. It’s easier to find your way in if you have a connection to someone.
9. Fashion is 24/7. There is never a quiet moment in this industry. Fashion never sleeps. There’s always breaking news about – mainly Kimye’s latest antics and couples outfits. This needs to be reported and acted upon. If Alexa Chung just brought shoulder pads back on trend, then designers need to work quickly to offer this to the masses!
10. Turn off your phone and breathe. Down time is important. If you have time off then relish in it and relax. It’s very easy to get caught up in the workload and check emails. Don’t get me wrong, if your boss calls you in a case of emergency then you should definitely help as much as possible, but it is important to indulge yourself.
Through all the stress, the fashion industry is so much fun and so very rewarding when the hard work pays off. I wouldn’t be as happy or more myself if I were in any other field.
Please comment or email me if you have any un-answered questions.