Collected Edition | The Fashion Industry, Stay Excited Series 1 (Feb 2016)
Over the past 6 weeks Laura Kent has been contributing to my blog Fullback and Friends. I first got to know Laura when I mentored her about business cards and websites. In fact this is her testimonial from that time:
“Whatever the problem, day or time (be it 7am or midnight), I know that I am always welcomed with any questions that I may have. His teaching styles are creative, enjoyable and valuable. He is very honest with his opinion and gets straight to the point. Mark’s kindness and helpfulness constantly makes me smile, and sets me up for a day full of motivation, even on some of my more challenging days. MB is clearly very knowledgeable; be it about web design, professional online presence or even Disney princesses. I feel as though I can really be myself and talk about any problems that I feel relevant; Mark will always help, however possible”
I guess it was mentored her about business cards, websites and DISNEY PRINCESSES!
Laura became a good friend and regularly commented and shared posts on my Facebook page. It was only logical that we invited her to contribute to our blog. This is the Collected edition of her first Series. This is an amazing collection of posts and a must read for anyone that has recently graduated and wants to stay excited about their degree subject, be it fashion or not. Read it and share.
INTRODUCTION INTO THE FASHION INDUSTRY | #StayExcited | Post 1 of 6
The fashion industry has a well-earned reputation for glamour, distinctiveness and excitement. Emerging designers, trendy clothing and fashion shows in exotic locales help contribute to its’ aura of cosmopolitan edginess. With the Fashion industry currently standing as the World’s most thriving and ever-expanding business; its’ value in the UK alone estimated at over £46 billion in 2015; it is no wonder that so many feel the desire to aim to be a part of this global industry, is so appealing. Including myself.
What exactly is meant by ‘fashion’, many of you might ask.
It’s simplest definition being- ‘a popular style or practice, especially in clothing, footwear, accessories or makeup. Fashion is a distinctive and often habitual trend in the style in which a person dresses’.
To gain a little more understanding of the fashion industry; I would recommend reading this helpful, short and easy-to-follow link, explaining where fashion originated from, as well as the key sectors found within the industry. http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-fashion-industry.htm
A little bit about me? I graduated from the BA(Hons) Textiles course at The Manchester School of Art in July 2015, specialising in embroidery and glass work suited for a fashion/ bridal context. I have, since I can remember, held the passion, excitement and determination (and to some extent, skills and knowledge) to begin my journey into working with fashion. Oh, and I also have a really, really unhealthy relationship with sparkly things, which I am sure will become apparent very soon.
So overall it seems as though the fashion industry is the one for me.
There are SO many routes to take and explore within this industry though. That is what I am slowly beginning to discover myself, through internships, voluntary and freelance work. Blogging with Fullback & Friends, my intention is to use the next 6 weeks to give you an insight into the kinds of work that I take part in as I continue to develop and understand this exciting new world post-graduation for myself focusing in particular upon the fashion/ backstage element of my experiences, what it is that drives me and how I stay motivated in order to follow my chosen career path, as well as general articles, advice and links that I hope you will find useful and easy to understand.
Personally, my dream goal has always been to work in the embroidery department for Haute Couture designer, Elie Saab. His work consists of intricate embellishments and romantic, feminine designs and colours. One day I will get there.
Details of his most recent collections provided via the links below;
Until my next blog post; I have attached a link to my website, where you are able to find links to my CV and social media accounts, as well as my personal blog, exposing an insight into an overload of sparkles, glitz & glamour, behind-the-scenes & backstage snippets from the opportunities I have been lucky enough to have taken part in since graduation. http://laurakenttextiles.co.uk
FASHION WEEK: BACKSTAGE VS. FRONT STAGE IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY | #StayExcited | Post 2 of 6
As the excitement of entering the New Year begins to settle; Many eyes are now turning towards the much anticipated commencement of Spring/Sumer 2016 Fashion Week. February is the month that invites designers from across the globe to launch their newest ideas and outfits into the world of fashion; displaying their latest collections in runway shows and across social media, in a bid to set this season’s current trend ‘do’s and don’ts’ for all Fashionistas alike.
With the upcoming shows being the industry’s current focus, I felt that it would be right to tell you a little about backstage life during the winter fashion season; I have been very blessed in being able to gain first-hand experience during one of the hottest periods in the fashion calendar, and truly love working as part of the wardrobe department during numerous catwalk shows.
Something that has always interested me about fashion, since I was a little girl, was what it would be like to work backstage at a catwalk show. Take The Clothes Show Live Alcatel One Touch Fashion Show, for example. I have watched the Fashion Theatre’s catwalk show and fallen in love with the sparkles every year since I can remember, and finally, in December 2015, I was lucky enough to be apart of the backstage experience for myself.
Truthfully, I was, at first, a little over-whelmed by the backstage world. Walking into an empty backstage area and within seconds it being transformed into a metropolis of over-flowing clothes rails, teams of make-up artists and stylists, and of course, the models themselves, was daunting and yet still is the most magical experience I have ever witnessed.
On stage, the models and dancers look absolutely flawless; with their outfits freshly steamed, catwalk routines effortlessly undertaken with each outfit change and effortless make-up looks; you have no idea of the extraordinary, meticulous attentions to detail taking place just metres away behind the catwalk curtains…
…Someone running across the room and falling to their knees to re-tie a tangled shoe lace whilst a member of the hair and make-up team repositions a loose curl coming out of place, seconds before they take their cue. Model dressers waiting in line to freshly steam a men’s suit trouser before they head on stage. 40+ models running back and forth to the catwalk in order to make their cues, swerving around bags and high heels left in the middle of the carpet from their previous outfit changes. 2-3 minutes to remove and reassemble a full look- with accessories, shoes, bags, necklaces…
See behind-the-scenes backstage highlights from CSL 2015 here:
The success of a catwalk show, I believe, lies in the hands of the hundreds of bodies that make up the wardrobe, dressing, make-up and hair, choreography and styling departments. When a model walks on stage, their only concern is making sure that they are focused upon their choreography. If a heel buckle isn’t done up properly, a shoe is three sizes too small and crippling the models’ feet or a dress zip isn’t fully done up in time, they have to get on with it. Some outfit changes are so quick (I remember I once had 28 seconds to remove and reapply a full men’s suit!) it takes three people collectively to get that model back on stage.
6 days, 33 shows and more impressively 231 outfit changes taken per model(!!) later, I have to say that The Clothes Show Live catwalk show is the most enjoyable & invaluable opportunity that I have experienced to date. I am very much looking forward to my next roles in the wardrobe department, and sharing the experiences with you later in the month. Keep up-to-date with my experiences backstage on here: http://laurakenttextiles.co.uk/blog/
FROM INTERN TO EMPLOYEE . MY EXPERIENCES OF ‘HOW TO GET NOTICED’ IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY (PART 1) | #StayExcited | Post 3 of 6
I receive a vast amount of emails, many from under-graduates soon to enter the big wide world of fashion themselves, inquisitive to know how I have managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time since graduation, and truthfully, I find it a very difficult, and personal question to answer. I have accomplished things that six months ago I could not even begin to dream about doing; and quite frankly, a lot of my opportunities have been purely down to networking, a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.
I thought that this week I would write a bit more personally as to the key things that I feel are important to do in order to get myself as noticed as a creative when looking for opportunities, as well as some of the physical attributes I feel are important whilst working within the fashion industry;
SHOW INTEREST IN WHAT IT IS THAT YOU ARE DOING. Very important. I think that this statement is kind of obvious, however with that said, if you’re taking part in a job and realise that you are not as interested in what you are doing as you thought you would be, to me personally, I would question if this is really the kind of lifestyle/job you honestly want for yourself.
INTERN & VARY YOUR EXPERIENCES. University is great, but nobody teaches nor prepares you for what exactly is out there. It’s easy to think that all jobs in fashion are similar, but you will quickly learn how different a job working backstage in fashion can be from an atelier position making bridal gowns, just as an example. Interning in different parts of the industry is a great way to understand what it is that you want in life. I am fortunate enough to have experienced a vast range of different working environments- bridal, costume, haute couture, high-end fashion- and have quickly found out the things that I ‘don’t’ enjoy doing, in comparison to those that I am truly passionate about and can imagine myself doing in the long run.
ALWAYS BE FRIENDLY & WILLING TO GO THE EXTRA MILE. I have, so far, never come across an individual that has been negative, unpassionate or rude to work with/for. Being kind, having an approachable and friendly attitude and offering to help others without expecting anything in return, from experience, has always been met with a positive response. Having these attributes also allows your genuine interest and passion for your role to shine through. And besides, why would anyone want to be miserable for the sake of it?
“You can’t put yourself in the position to be discovered. However, your work ethic can make you stand out, and will get agencies and designers to call you back. It’s what you put into it that determines what you get out of it.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT ‘WHO’ YOU KNOW. One thing that I have definitely learnt since leaving university- it’s not always a case of what you know, but much rather, who. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. My two favourite attributes both for working within the fashion industry and general life are networking and making friends. From working with like minded people and professionals, life long friendships have been created from mutual interests and in turn have led to more working opportunities.
CREATE A PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PRESENCE. Linking with the above comments; It has only really been since graduating that I have built up my list of contacts/connections in the fashion industry. I’d say that besides physical face-to-face connections; the most effective (and quickest) ways to get yourself noticed as a creative would be creating an online presence, be it through a website, online CV, LinkedIn profile- whatever social media platform works for you and your desired ‘audience’.
I won’t go into great details but I feel that; a CV allows potential employers to see the types of experiences you have already gained; websites/social media platforms can be used to showcase more physical attributes (for example, my website is used as an online portfolio to see my embroidery work); and LinkedIn is a way to connect and interact with many like-minded professionals and employers, which in turn can lead to, well, anything.
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. The one thing I really wish someone had told me about working in the fashion industry is that it’s actually not nearly as intimidating as it seems. I used to feel like I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to even be in the same room as some of the people I have had the good fortune of working with/for. One thing I have come to learn is that people are just people. It doesn’t matter how famous someone is- they still have to eat, sleep and breathe, just like you and I do. I think understanding this has helped me go further in my career than I otherwise would have.
Different things will always work for different people and situations, but I definitely think the two main pieces of wisdom that I can give to anybody would be creating an online presence for yourself and being friendly. These attributes help within any situation.
Having a look on the internet at others’ experiences, I came across a great article, entitled ‘How To Go From Fashion Intern To Employee’ which I feel touches on many other interesting and useful hints and tips that should be kept in mind when applying/ working anywhere.
FROM INTERN TO EMPLOYEE. MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES & ADVICE OF ‘HOW TO GET NOTICED’ IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY (PART 2) | #StayExcited | Post 4 of 6
Last week I spoke briefly about some of the key attributes that I feel are important to implement into your working life in order to get ‘noticed’ as a creative. This week, therefore, I felt that it would be appropriate to continue with this topic, looking a little more closely into other important steps that I personally take when seeking/ maintaining fashion-related working opportunities, as well as answering the dreaded question as to how I ‘stay inspired and motivated’ in the pursue of my dream job.
NEVER STOP SEARCHING FOR OPPORTUNITIES. Being the stubborn and determined being that I am, I know in my heart that I cannot ever imagine giving up my dream to work within the fashion industry for a bog standard ‘9-5 job’. Talking to a lot of my graduating alumni, it is clear that the hardest part of stepping into the big wide world of fashion is, in fact, knowing where to start looking for a job. Searching for post-graduate level jobs, it becomes very clear very quickly that many employers expect far more from you than you could ever anticipate. If I could give my younger self any form of advice, it would be to take on as many opportunities/ workshops/ additional projects as possible, be it through voluntary work/ collaborations/ evening classes/ internships, in order to have more of a chance at succeeding in the long term. The more you do, the more you get back. In terms of searching for opportunities, job-seeking sites such as Fashionworkie.com and LinkedIn, or if feeling brave enough, contacting potential employers with your CV and a speculative email, have always done the trick for me.
REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED. Do you ever sometimes feel as though the whole world is against you and you just wish you’d taken a different career path? I am certainly not the type of person to sugar-coat and say that all is sunshine and roses in this industry all of the time, and that something will eventually work out. It won’t. The key to success is action, and bloody hard work. Everybody gets it wrong, doubts themselves, talks themselves out of doing things because it’s ‘too hard’ or ‘might not work’, myself included. The great names like Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld didn’t get their brands to where they are today without a few bumps in the road. It was their passion, motivation and hard work that has seen them succeed. I thrive on a challenge. Just because it doesn’t always seem to be working, that doesn’t mean you should ever give up.
STAY CREATIVE. Sometimes it can be really difficult to consistently stay creative. Leading on from above, the best thing to do when feeling as though you’ve had enough, is to take some time to refuel, reflect and find inspiration; networking, using creative social media (such as Pinterest), making mood-boards, looking at sparkly things or taking time out completely could work for you. I know that personally, there’s nothing more motivational than flicking through photographs from past Haute Couture shows, especially behind-the-scenes videos from my idols, watching how their collections are created. These videos provide instant inspiration to make me get up and remember exactly where I want to be and to do that, I need to work for it.
UPDATE SOCIAL MEDIAS/ ONLINE PRESENCE. I frequently use sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Website to promote and show the experiences that I have taken part in. In this industry, social media becomes your online working diary. It allows people to see what you are up to, what you are learning, what skills you are using and where it is that those skills are getting you. Not only does it allow a sense of achievement for yourself, but at the same time, (whether sometimes I believe it or not) you are in fact inspiring the people around you, showing them that anything that you want to do IS possible, as long as you work for it. Online presence for me not only allows this sense of achievement, but is also a gateway to opening up more opportunities- for example, showcasing my CV on LinkedIn/ my personal website, I have received unexpected yet related job opportunity openings from employers that believe my skills have made me suitable for their roles (collaborations, internships and exhibitions to name a few).
FIND YOURSELF A MENTOR/ SUPPORT SYSTEM. I am very, very lucky to have built up a very special and supportive group of mentors over the past twelve months; Most of these work/ have experience within the fashion industry, and others are inspirational, positive, hard-working beings that I know are willing to help, shape and grow me into a better person and with it, a successful one. Having a mentor, for me, means being able to talk to somebody in confidence about the things that you want to achieve and how you are planning on achieving them. My mentors fill me with stories of their own experiences, offer advice, contacts and motivation to succeed, and help in any way that they can to do so. I honestly do not know where I would be without a support system like mine.
NEVER FORGET THE PEOPLE THAT GOT ME TO WHERE I AM. The opportunities and experiences that I have been given so far in my life have been invaluable. The people I meet, contacts I make, advice and opportunities I am rewarded. But there is nothing more important than spending time with the people that made all of this happen.
Finally, the most important advice I can give. . BE ABLE TO DRINK YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN CUPS OF TEA. I do not know where or why the fashion industry has produced its’ obsession with tea from, but note to all… if you want to be successful, learn to love it.
MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE FASHION WORLD- WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO WORK IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY | #StayExcited | Post 5 of 6
Usually when discussing the fashion world, many that have no passion nor experience within the subject matter know very little about the actual goings on of the industry, or much rather, have preconceived perceptions of what it must be like.
There is no doubt that many people have gained unrealistic assumptions regarding the fashion industry, from the famous (and fictional) character of Miranda Priestley- a demanding, intolerable editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine in New York City; created from Lauren Weisberger’s novel and movie, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. For anybody that has not watched the film, I highly recommend you do. It is full of quips and laugh-out-loud moments, but by no means, realistic. Watch the trailer here: [VIDEO] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTDSwAxlNhc
I am sure that there must be some ‘devils’ to work with in the fashion industry, but so far, I have found none. Every individual that I have worked with or for so far has genuinely been friendly, helpful and clearly passionate about their work/job, with their intention being to make sure that all runs as smoothly and as enjoyably as possible for all. It is a truly inspiring feeling to work with such individuals.
In contrast to ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, 2009’s ‘The September Issue’ documentary shows a prime example of being able to experience the true behind-the-scenes view of what it is like and what it takes to survive, in the industry. The documentary chronicles the “real life ‘Devil Wears Prada’” Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour’s preparations for their 2007 fall-fashion issue. My favourite thing about Wintour is her obvious passion and love of fashion, as well as the fact she is, like us all, a normal human being. 73 Questions with Anna Wintour depicts her take on real life, showing that it isn’t always all about the over-priced glamour and finer things in life – [VIDEO] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhXwO_mkdzQ
The fashion industry is not something to be afraid of, more, enjoyed and excited about. I love the versatility, the challenges, the anticipation of what’s to come during each different job I take part in. Most importantly for me, I work backstage because of the people that I get to meet and the friendships that are formed. Many a time I have found myself in conversation with somebody that has worked in the industry for many years before me, and I found myself being inspired thinking about the infinite possibilities that I am able to gain from taking on this career.
SERIES RECAP. THE FASHION INDUSTRY | #StayExcited | Post 6 of 6
As I have now come to the final post of this series, I thought that it would be appropriate to offer a recap of the top three key points I believe I can offer to anybody aspiring to work/ working within the fashion industry.
1. STAY CREATIVE. In this industry, I find that there is some form of inspiration in every direction that I turn- the people that I work with, the clothing I work with, the connections that I make. . the list goes on. It is important to remember to keep creative, especially through the difficult times. Refuel, reflect and stay inspired.
2. VARY YOUR EXPERIENCES. Work hard and be stubborn about your goals, yes, but also try something new every once in a while… It might surprise you. Although I have not been in this industry very long at all, I never imagined doing some of the things, and enjoying them, as much as I have done. You never know who you might meet and who might change your life and goals for the better.
3. LOVE WHAT YOU DO. Simple and most important. Choose a career that you love, that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and that makes you proud. Never settle for something that you do not love just because it’s ‘convenient’ or ‘pays the bills’. Even if the situation isn’t great, never ever give up on your dreams. If you want something bad enough, you will achieve it.
If you are interested in reading more about an insider’s view of the fashion industry, or simply want to refresh your memory from earlier blog posts, my previous posts in this #StayExcited series can be found at: http://fullbackandfriends.com/author/laurakenttextiles/.
Alternatively, if you have been inspired by any of mine or other contributors’ posts to the Fullback and Friends blog, why not apply to become a regular contributor? I personally love having a collaborative working space that I am able to contribute my views/ experiences to. Sharing a creative platform with other creatives, helps to constantly motivate and inspire. http://fullbackandfriends.com/connected/form-request-contributor-access/.
In post 2 Laura says “University is great, but nobody teaches nor prepares you for what exactly is out there”. In post 4 she also says “FIND YOURSELF A MENTOR/SUPPORT SYSTEM”.
So here’s the offer – let me be your mentor and coach. Just like I did with Laura. I normally charge £99 per session but if you download the following PDF Action Pack you will get a Coupon Code that will save you £89. Yep you’ll pay just £10. You’ve no reason not to get started.
Plus if you want it we’ll also give you the Quickstart Webspace bonus from #EveryoneStartsAtZero, worth £108, to help you “create a professional online presence” as Laura suggests in post 3. Just mention it when we have our £10 coaching session.
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