Let's get one thing straight: working in fashion is not an 'easy option'.
There is this massive misconception that working in the fashion industry is easy. It stems from a generation of girls growing up watching TV shows like The Hills and seeing FROW's and glamorous parties. Yes, fashion has more perks than most industries, however ask anyone in a creative industry and they will tell you that they would swap those ''perks'' for a non-sucky salary any day.
Now we've got that out the way, if you are looking to try and start a career in fashion then GET READY because it's a bloomin' hard hustle.
I came out of university with a degree in a completely different industry with only this blog as ''fashion experience'', which let me tell you, helped a whole lot. A blog is basically a place to show off your passions, talents, commitment and personality. Giving you a platform and a portfolio to show employers what you are capable of achieving, especially if you have no other relevant experience.
You will have to do internships.
Like any job in the creative industry it's very much, "started from the bottom now we're here' typa thang.
The first issue with fashion interning is that it's hella hard to get your foot in the door. A lot of fast paced fashion publications won't hire an intern unless they've had previous fashion interning experience, which makes infiltrating the industry near freaking impossible.
Have guts, contact as many people as you can and don't let the rejection get to you. I had a ton of false starts with my first internship.
Numero uno: The big internship I had secured months in advance to start straight after uni through my only contact fell through THE DAY BEFORE.
Numero deux: I then sent so many emails to publications and fashion assistants and finally got a interview for another publication, which I prepped my arse off for, only to get turned away because I had no previous interning/ fashion cupboard experience.
Third time lucky: A few weeks later I managed to get another interview, by this point I was getting VERY disheartened but also strangely motivated to break the barrier. It was for a menswear internship, which wasn't what I had initially planned but I went in, proved myself and GOT IT (and it actually turned out to be my favourite internship EVER and made me want to go into menswear instead of womenswear).
I did three internships in total, each internship can last anywhere from 1 month - 3 months. Once you have your foot in the door it gets a little easier, as if you make a good impression fashion assistants then usually suggest you to another fashion assistant at a different publication and you just keep on going.
So, what can you expect from a fashion internship?
- No you will not be going on glamorous photoshoots - out of all of my months interning I went on one shoot, where I basically just organised travel, steamed clothes and had to carry copious amounts of Nando's for the whole crew's lunch.
- I spent 2 months stuck in a fashion cupboard (like literally, a cupboard) in a basement with no natural light acting as a glorified post man/ secretary.
- You will spend most of your time unpacking and repacking returns and organising dockets - on average you will be wrapping up and returning 20-50 parcels a day. Sometimes more if there's a editorial or international shoot. Check out 'fashion intern problems' for more info, it got me through many a day in the cupboard.
- Or you will be running errands - either returning or pulling pieces from PR's, going on the hunt for items such as ribbon of very specific measurements, or fetching a fashion assistant fresh mint leaves for her latest cleanse.
By my third internship the fashion editor came in and called me 'Simone' I thought "Simone? That's close enough #MADEIT!"
The key is to just get on with it, don't complain, be positive, energetic, use initiative and do everything to the best of your ability. Yes, at times it may feel demoralizing, but also remember that the fashion assistant who is giving you these tasks was probably doing what you are at some point. Fashion internships are kind of like a right of passage and a test to dwindle out the weak and unmotivated.
Now, let's talk ''payment'' - YOU WILL BE BROKE AF
It's not so much 'getting paid' as, "how little can we get away with paying for it to still be legal?"
I mean I guess if you live in London it's not too bad, but I was having to buy a £25 railcard each day and park my car at the station at 6.30am, only to not get home until 8pm every day.
Luckily, whilst I was at uni I had saved money, knowing that I would have to do internships and I spent it all, a couple of grand POOF gone. Other interns I worked with were working in Tesco's on the weekend to be able to afford to work for free. I was also working on the weekends on my blog and trying to gain writing experience - IT WAS HARD.
In fact my sister sent me a photo the day I started a new internship which said, "Here's hoping that your new part-time job as a stripper pays better than the internship you went to college for." - AINT DAT TRUE.
What I learn't
Although I didn't think I was learning much at the time, I did learn a lot about how to communicate with PR's, how publications are run, what each role involves, and it made me prepared for the industry. It also made me stronger, more resilient and thicker skinned as a person, because in fashion, you have to be.
The way into fashion is a long old road. In fact, whilst I was on my second internship I got a call from my sister who was elated as she had just got her first job, which was extremely well paid and in the field she wanted to go into. I just wanted to burst out crying, in that moment I felt like one big failure, like I was getting nowhere with life and made me question if I was just wasting my time, money and energy.
... BUT THEN I SHOOK IT OFF AND MY MOTIVATION KICKED BACK IN.
Words of wisdom: DONT NEARLY KILL YOURSELF WORKING
I knew that there were hundreds of other girls who would love to be in my intern positions. I SO badly wanted to do well and prove myself. And I also felt pressure from my family who thought I was just wasting time and that there was no way I was going to get a career in fashion.
So, in between the stress of the internships, draining commute, sleeping on friends floors, being broke and with my anxiety through the roof. I pushed myself too hard. One morning I woke up on my friends floor, stood up and then quite literally collapsed. I couldn't feel my body, I had never felt so faint in my life and couldn't even lift my head - it pretty much terrified me.
I had exhausted myself. Quite literally, and was suffering from exhaustion. I had burn't out both mentally and physically.
This was two days before the end of my internship at my biggest publication to date. I rang in sick for the first time ever during a internship and had to lie there, unable to leave my friends room as he had the keys. That evening my mum came and got me after she had finished work and my friend had to half carry me down the stairs.
Jacket: Rokit Vintage*
Jeans: Rokit Vintage*
Hat: Camden Market
I don't even know how I did it but white as a sheet, clutching my Lucozade and Maryland cookies (as that was the only thing I could bring myself eat or drink) I did the commute, adrenaline pumping from motivation I made it in, got through my last day and said my goodbyes.
On my last day, the publication offered me the next step up, but I knew I wasn't happy (or healthy) there. Plus, on my first day there i'd seen the girl in that job crying behind a rail in the fashion cupboard - NOPE, I was outta there.
Internships are a mixed bag, you will quickly discover that the same job at different publication = VERY different experiences. My internship experience's concurred that I did in fact LOVE fashion and knew I wanted a career in it. However, you will find you fit in at some publications more than others. I did not care how 'big' the publication, I just wanted to do my job and not be a anxious mess, after all no job is worth losing your health and happiness for.