Still from The Devil Wears Prada
Ever since my days of carrying a purse to pre-school, I’ve known that I wanted to work in fashion. I learned a lot about the industry over the years through reading every magazine and book I could get my hands on, studying fashion and business at university and having various internships, but nothing really teaches you quite like your first year working in the industry.
Last year, upon graduating from university, I landed my dream job here atBAZAAR, and in that time have found that working in fashion requires more than just reading magazines and blogs or watching The Devil Wears Prada. Here’s what I’ve learned about navigating the fashion world (so far):
1) Fashion Week is not always as glamorous as it seems. Before starting a position in the industry, “Fashion Week” is an illustrious fantasy that seems like the most magical thing in the world. At moments it is, but it’s actually a lot of work. Don’t expect to spend your first job attending glam parties, getting snapped by street style photographers and sitting front row—there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needs to get done and a lot of hours that go into it. You never think you could be one of those people who complains about fashion shows, but trust me—that changes really quickly.
2) Also, Fashion Week is actually Fashion Month. The chaos (and excitement) doesn’t just last for one week in New York—you have to get through London, Milan and Paris, too. Plus, of course, Australian Fashion Week is a whole other beast of its own.
3) Your attitude is just as important as your shoes. Like good footwear, a good attitude is necessary at all times. Smile through even the most mundane tasks because every little thing you do counts in some way.
4) Work with what you’ve got. It can be intimidating dressing to work in an office where everyone is wearing the latest Gucci and Alexander Wang. Since most of us can’t afford designer finds on an entry-level salary, sometimes you have to strut your Zara like it’s Céline. The power is in the styling. (I still die a little on the inside every time I see a Chanel bag pass by, but these things take time.)
5) Listen and practice the art of networking. You can learn something from everybody, from the people in your office to those you meet at industry events. Talk to everyone and listen to what they have to say. The fashion industry may seem huge but it’s actually pretty small—you never know who you could meet…
6) It’s really easy to spend your paycheck. Really, really easy. Shopping is technically part of your job, after all, but learning the art of budgeting is key (it’s still a current work in progress).
7) There is a tiny, tiny bit of truth to The Devil Wears Prada. This runs true to every industry. There are always going to be Miranda Priestlys. Ignore and rise above the cattiness because this is your career, not a scene fromMean Girls.
8) Fashion never sleeps. There is no 9-5 work day or five-day work week, because at any given moment, there can be breaking fashion news, from a major model Instagram to a fashion Twitter rant courtesy of Kanye West. These things need to be reported on, of course.
9)The importance of social media. You are your own brand. Use Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and any other social outlet you can think of to your advantage.
10) Play it cool around models and celebrities. I wish I had been able to take this piece of advice the first time I saw Naomi Campbell backstage at fashion week—I had a bit of a fangirl moment. You will find yourself around A-List celebs and models often, but keep it cool as a cucumber at all times (and freak out about said run-ins on social media later).
11) The importance of unplugging. I spent most of my first year of work refreshing my email on my phone every 10 minutes—nights and weekends included. While it’s important to be available and on top of things, you’ll develop serious anxiety if you don’t learn to unplug every now and then. There’s no need to answer work emails at 10 PM—turn off your phone and breathe when you can.
12) Embrace yourself and show your true colours. That’s what fashion is all about. In my first couple of months working I worried more about dressing and acting “professionally” than I did about actually presenting my true self. This is fashion—you don’t have to hide behind a stiff corporate suit and business-like demeanour—so show off your personal style and your personality. You’ll shine more in your job and form better relationships at work.
13) Fake it ’til you make it. When all else fails…