[dropcap]I[/dropcap] adore fashion, I have done for as long as I can remember. From when I was about 15 I knew I could see myself having a career within the fashion industry and since then I did everything I could to work towards that goal. I still am but I have also already had the chance to experience it, to experience the industry and all that it brings. As you might know if you have been here for awhile, I am studying at a fashion university in London (LCF) and have also had a few jobs and work experience here to develop something that I had to share; my love/hate relationship with the fashion industry.
The points I want to mention are mostly work related as obviously there are loads of subjects you can discuss around the industry as a whole but I wanted to keep the focus on the working and career environment.
There are many factors I love about the industry, mostly because I love fashion I think (obvs). That is definitely a crucial part of why I could see myself in this industry for many years. The creativity it brings out in people is incredibly inspiring. From the talented designs to the smart marketing campaigns – there is creativity everywhere and in a way that you won’t find in many other fields.
I also love the way it sets everyone up to adapt to quick changes and therefore it is easier to change roles and career paths completely. Within organisations but also any other place in the industry. I have my mind set on entrepreneurship and marketing both at the moment, this even changed to just digital marketing in the last few months because that’s how the industry has changed already – before I have one foot in. I love that the future is not set out and with different skills you can really change up your career anytime you want to.
This obviously is not just limited to the fashion industry but I do believe that this is one of the best ones to be in if you want to switch things up now and again.
Now let’s talk about networking. Love and hate. This one falls under both categories. I love meeting new people, I love really getting to know other beyond that ”you okay?” point and small talk to pass time. Some of my best friends I have made through this industry and I can’t wait to meet all the inspiring others that I know will come into my life over the years. The whole industry is based on networking in my eyes. Which is good in a way because it gets you out and talking and you never know what opportunities will be around the corner. It’s also that push outside of your comfort zone to form a connection with total strangers over and over again and this has pushed me a lot in the right direction as a person, just like it has for so many others.
Now onto the other side of networking. It is HARD finding those true connections with people as most people are just trying to get one step further on the ladder and are not actually bothered about the genuine friendships. Again, this will apply to other industries too but is enhanced in the fashion industry as it mostly evolves around networking, it’s all about who you know. That being said, it can often feel unfair when you work harder than others – years of building your CV doing every shitty job in town and someone else had a ”friend of a friend” set them up with a job that 50 others were interviewing for.
Then again, life isn’t always fair, so what can you do.
Well, you can start by trying to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world (as they’re all the fashion capitals) and do as many UN-paid internships as you can, to cover your rent of course.
This is one of the main things I hate about the industry, fair enough it’s highly competitive but for some this is not realistic in their financial situation which results in not even having an equal chance as others. The fact that so many internships are unpaid is a joke, it needs to change and asap. Most internships are not even a few days a week just watching others do their job and learning a bit on the sidelines – nope, they’re all full on jobs and often have a crazy amount of hours to them as well. So this is the same for everyone, I know – but a lot more manageable if you don’t have other part time jobs at the same time. Oh and for any brands or companies reading this – expenses only is not going to cut it.
Whilst we’re on this internship topic anyway, I also want to bring up the most common fashion industry mentality that I have seen and heard from others, which is the ”I was treated this way, so I am going to treat you like that as well” idea.
Now, I don’t know what kind of Devil wears Prada reality this has come to but it happens all the time. The industry is known to be a bitchy environment and full of competition but why is that? The people entering the industry at starter level usually don’t have this attitude (most of the time), so what can change so much overtime? I had a conversation with my friend about this the other day and she told me that she often feels like being nice is not gonna cut it. The ones with a certain attitude seem to get to the top somehow, though they didn’t seem to have this when they first dreamed about being a part of such an incredibly creative industry.
Is it the years of being treated like you are less than others that changes people once they get promoted? Once they finally get that job after all the months of unpaid work? Or is it simply just a mindset change where we can all be better than the ones before and create genuine connections, lift each other up and encourage everyone to do better? If you agree that it can be the last one, let’s make a difference together.
These are only a few points I wanted to write about on this topic, I might do a part 2 someday since there are many other things to bring up regarding this topic but for now, I want to hear your stories! What is your experience and view of the fashion industry and what topics would you want to read about in part 2?
Love, M x