Sunday, 7 September 2014

Getting ahead in fashion

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Working for a high-end fashion brand has made me think long and hard about getting ahead in fashion. So you have your CV sussed, you've started a blog compiled of your fashionista tips & tricks while highlighting diabolical fashion faux pas, you've escaped to the Capital.. now what? 

This is my situation...

I am nail-bittingly close to ruining the opportunities I have worked so hard to achieve and I don't want anyone else to fall for the blunders I have caused, so here are a few things that have been learn't so far working in industry.

DO: Nourish yourself

Ok. So you might think the Fashion industry promotes skinny, but oh could you be more wrong. In the run-up to deadlines everyone is in the studio chowing down on pizza, thai, sushi.. the list is endless. We have just stocked up with goodies for the week, by stocked up I mean the biggest box of crisps, chocolate & fizzy drinks. Now I am not promoting un-healthy eating to get ahead in fashion, but I am promoting the need for energy, strength and balance to be able to work 7 days a week, with hours that don't have a time-limit, meaning you could be working 14hours + in the run up to Fashion Week. I have so far been the girl rejecting the cookies, the crisps, the cake. You might applaud thinking what good will power, but in reality it is just stubbornness. My unhealthy relationship with food caused me to take my eye off the ball. I am unable to work the gruelling hours I prepared myself for and that other interns and staff members work, I do not have the bodily strength to do the tasks others can do. I am the girl with the apple and a salad, maybe staying an hour late here and there and un-impressing. Although staff members are happy with my work and say they are impressed.. my contribution to the team is far less superior then others. I thoroughly enjoy what I am doing, developing skills in different areas such as embroidery and pattern cutting and want to continue to learn. I have a determination to work the gruelling fashion hours others work and impress and be desired to come back and contribute each year but my eating habits have so far stood in the way of me making the impressions I had hoped.

 I am a working progress. 

Luckily, I will be returning to the fashion company I am interning with next year for 5 months. When I return I will be the girl eating the cookies and the cake, working the late shifts and proving to everyone that I will make it in the industry. 

This challenge for me started yesterday, working the weekend: I ate a sushi bento box for lunch and delved into the biscuit tin at snack time, convincing my manager I have the strength to work a little longer than usual. Next week my progress will continue, fighting for my future, my dreams, my desire to prove to everyone I am worthy of this internship. If I make more progress my studio manager will allow me work the longer hours and the big weekend 48hour stint before the fashion show on Monday the 15th. You all must think I am mad aiming for longer shifts but that is what the run up to fashion week is all about.. if I am going to intern in fashion, I will do it properly. This is game on. 

Phew, you might be glad to know that's my blabbering out of the way. But, hey when your stuck inside, no way to get to my usual Sunday church service, whats a girl gunna do. 

My other points are slightly more heard of but coming from my real life interning experience, I have realised just how true they are. 

DON'T: Be a 9 to 5 kind of gal/guy

While you dream of your lavish fashion lifestyle of endless shopping trips and copious amounts of champagne as you pull up to the most talked about parties in a black limousine surrounded by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney. The reality is a lot of graft, late nights, constant deadlines, sleepless nights, people freaking out when designs change last minute, things can't be found, exhaustion takes over, and before you know it the season is over and the next has begun. But don't be put off, everyone in the studio loves the madness and if you want it badly, you will too!  

DO: Network

Networking was stressed to me throughout my second year of my degree, but while interning the need to network has become evermore important. It is all about contacts I'm afraid. The more people you know in the industry the further you will get. Working in a creative environment means you can meet a lot of people who will know someone that can help you out in the future, Foot in the door? Photographer? Stylist? Freelance work? The more people you meet whether it is the designer at one of your favourite fashion houses, the receptionist at Vogue, the cleaner at Burberry or the security guard at Dolce & Gabbana, you meet someone in the industry they will probably be able to help you out in the future. Also, meeting other designers is a great way to meet like-minded people. Maybe the security guard might not share your interests, but he will know someone who will. 

DON'T: Rely on qualifications

Don't assume that your degree will guarantee you a job in the industry at the end. Of course doing well and academic study is important but most professionals I have met that have been working in the design field for a long time have stressed that the need of interning and networking. I have learnt so much after just 3 months of interning, things I never learnt on my degree. I enjoy my course, my lecturers are great and I have learnt all about designing and design process, but putting these skills into experience in the working world is a completely different ball-game. So intern, think outside the box, stand out and throw yourself into every task no matter how small with unbridled gusto.

DO: Live the City life

Chirping birds flying past the window of your Victorian house with a garden (yes, "A GARDEN!" I hear you scream) as you gaze on to the mountainous hillside and sip a cup of tea, while later venturing into the grassy fields as you sing 'the hills are alive' like Julie Andrews.. I don't think so. If you want to clamber up the fashion ladder you have to make the move. Relocate to the capital. And live it like a Londoner. I am sure you have all heard the saying "you've got to be in it to win it", well thus applies. All the opportunities are in the city, it is where the biggest companies are based, where the fashion shows are hosted and where your real-life fashion career begins. So, if you can cope with a box (i.e. small flats) at designer prices and virtually no money for a few years for that desirable fashion gig, pack your bag and book a one way ticket. 

DON'T: Fake it

Yes it is great to have a look, having personal sense of style can get you a long way.. make you stand out from the crowd. Attitude and confidence are highly valued and having a personal style is great to showcase your fashion eye. However, don't pretend to be something you are not. If at heart you are a girl who loves the high street or is guilty of indulging in the high end life, don't pretend to be an artful hipster, find your niche and wear it with pride. 

Find a company to intern with that interests you and reflects your style. Don't walk into a company pretending you are into Avant Guard when you like Commercial. You will only enjoy the job, the discounted clothing perks, and won't look like a wolly when your true style, thoughts and feelings are revealed. It will only be embarrassing when you can't relate to the concepts and the brand you are representing and working for, you will go a lot further working for a brand you are passionate about. 

Enough of my intern advice, hear it from the real professionals reading this Vogue interview for some famous fashion advice.

With all this fashion talk, what kind of fashion posts would you like me to create on my blog? London Fashion Week is also among us! So I hope to create a lot of posts on design collections I loved at the show, in the mean time.. This Resort '15 Valentino collection still has me head over heels in love.

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