Tuesday, 10 September 2013

How To Make It In Fashion


Yesterday evening I was one out of lucky 50 to attend the How I Got The Job In Fashion master class, presented by Marie Claire, Amsterdam International Fashion Week and Fashion United. The inspirational event took place in the wonderful Andaz Hotel in the city centre of Amsterdam. Several fashion-industry superstars told how they landed their dream jobs and dished out work advice we should all take to heart.
 

Tip # 1. Know what you want

Perhaps the most important tip of all when starting in fashion. If you know what you want, then you can put all your efforts in pursuing it and don't be afraid to do so. A good way of finding out what it is you'd love to do most is to try as much different things as possible. Internships are a great way to discover what companies, brands and work ethic attract you the most and what are the skills you exceed in. If you want to work in High Fashion, make sure your internships are with these fashion houses. Résumés are scanned by company names and if you haven't got experience at luxury brands, chances are you won't get an invite.

 
Tip # 2. Find your style and look the part

"Find your icon" Harriet Calo, Beauty & Fashion Director Sanoma, said. For her it was her aunt with the same wild red hair and everlasting red lips and matching nails. Harriet's been on a quest to find the perfect red nail polish ever since (but hasn't found it yet). Know how to present yourself. The way you look, talk and walk is almost as important as your skills and personality. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Sarah Whyment, recruiter for PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger) said "Don't show up to a job interview all suited and booted, because you're not applying at a bank, but show your sense of fashion style. And never show up in an outfit of a competitor either".

According to Jeannie Mai, fashion expert and TV personality, having good taste is key to work on the creative side of fashion. But there are no rules, in fact, break the rules as much as possible, that's how trends emerge.

 
How to make it in Fashion; 7 expert tips

Tip # 3. Find your Unique Selling Point

Know what sets you apart from the rest. Build your own 'brand'. You are one in 7 billion people, you're unique, says Jeannie Mai. Know what it is that you'd like to contribute to the world. As a designer, develop your own signature. Harriet Calo found her signature after she graduated from fashion school, so don't panic if you haven't developed yours yet.
 
Tip # 4. Don't complain, Don't give up
 
For Kyle Anderson, Marie Claire USA's Accessories Director, it was hard to make it as a male editor, because women have the upper hand in fashion magazine world. He'd been told by many of his friends and family to give up and pursue something different. But he knew this was what he wanted and quitting wasn't an option. Someone from the audience asked Kyle: "When do you stop working for free?", "Whenever you can really, whenever the opportunity arises". It may take years of (unpaid) internships before you get your first (well-)paid job. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

Being a designer is not a job, it's a lifestyle according to Fashion Designer Claes Iversen. It is all consuming sometimes. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have patience, an inexhaustible drive or surround yourself with the right people, chances are you might not make it.

 
Tip # 5. Put yourself out there

Go to networking events and show your work and spirit on social media and portfolio sites. Any recruiter will google your name before inviting you to an interview. So choose your online content wisely. Invest in relationships. Make sure to always be kind and courteous because the fashion industry is a fairly small world. Surround yourself with strong people who are honest to you.

 
Tip # 6. Be aware of the ruthless world of High Fashion

Working in fashion is not as glamorous as it's often portrayed to be. The higher you climb the fashion ladder, the more stressful your job and life gets, but the more rewarding and glamorous it can be as well. Brigitte Patty, Global Business Unit Manager Shoes at Céline says the downsides of working in High Fashion are:

- 12 to 16-hour workdays and even more when getting close to a deadline;

- Opinions change like the weather, it's not uncommon to change parts or even the entire collection just 2 weeks before a fashion show (hence the 24hour workdays before a deadline);

- You travel a lot, but only see countries through the window of a cab or aeroplane;

- Fashion comes first. Friend and family have to be very understanding. There may always be some kind of fashion emergency that leads to cancellation of plans;

- Your refrigerator is always empty.

Of course there are many upsides: the great gratification when Fashion Week arrives and when you book great results after, meeting lots of interesting people and celebrities, glamorous fashion parties, surrounding yourself with the most beautiful products and you get to work with people who are as passionate about fashion and their work as you are.

 
Tip # 7. Have as much fun as you can while doing it!

Overall working in the fashion-industry is hard work. Like Kyle said: "If you're not busy, you have too much time." What makes this hard work worthwhile is what all these people have in common: a great passion for fashion and their work.
 


This was truly an inspiring evening that filled our heads with even more plans. Andaz' hospitality and mouth-watering catering and of course the richly filled goodie bags made the evening complete.


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