From designer Rachel Roy to CEO of People's Revolution's Kelly Cutrone, the biggest names in the biz weigh in on what it's really like to work in the fashion industry in this post originally featured on ále by Alessandra, the fashion and lifestyle blog of Victoria's Secret supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.
These days, it seems like everyone wants to work in fashion. But before you start your path into the lustrous world of fittings, market appointments and runway shows, you need to actually start. It takes more than luck to hit it big. Fashion is after all, a billion dollar industry. Designing clothes or looking cute on a street-style blog are but just one part of a very long equation. See below for insider tips from some of the industry's most coveted names.
- If you want to work in fashion because you like how it seems on TV or movies, don't bother. You've likely heard this before but it bears repeating: Working in the industry is nothing like what you've seen on The Hills or in The Devil Wears Prada. Most of the time, the job will not be glamorous, and if you're not truly passionate about writing, styling or another aspect of the industry, you probably won't last long before you burn out. "If you're not obsessed [with fashion] to the point where you'll be happy getting coffee, you're going to be miserable." — Ariel Foxman, Editor in Chief of InStyle
- Beef up your social media presence. "All that time you spend on the Interwebz — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — is not for nothing: It can prove to be a major advantage when it comes to getting a job, as it gives a genuine peek into your personality and point of view. Also, if you don't have those networks setup and use them regularly, it can make you look completely out of touch. "I think its weird if you don't have social media," Foxman said about potential job candidates. Just keep it clean, OK?
- This should go without saying, but learn the brand you're interviewing for inside and out. If you're applying for a magazine, not only should you know a lot about the editor whom you're meeting with, you should know the stylists, photographers and writers that regularly work for the magazine. If you don't, chances are slim that you'll get a call back. "Candidates say they're obsessed with fashion or the magazine and they can't follow up," Foxman said. "You should be able to name your favorite designer on the spot, as well as your favorite pieces from past issues of the magazine — not knowing the latter is a huge pitfall."
- Intern: Work hard and don't complain. Work is the new four-letter word. People want to work in fashion and go to fashion shoots because it looks glamorous. What they don't realize is that you have to walk around the city, picking up clothes in garment bags and filling out insurance forms. When you get to the photo shoot no one is going to care that you are there, even though you are really pretty and went to a really great school. They are going to say, "Hey, you" 700 times, "Go get me a coffee", or "Can you make this 15-year-old model who is seven feet taller than you and getting paid $10,000, while you are working for free, feel good?" That's the reality. If it hurts your feelings, then you're in the wrong industry. — Kelly Cutrone, CEO of People's Revolution
- Be the village girl. "You don't have to hail from the big city and be dripping in diamonds to work in fashion. The village girl might not have been the prettiest, the most economically privileged or the smartest girl, but she has a strong work ethic and is often the most frequently looked over. She's tenacious, kind and intuitive. Through proper cultivation, mentoring, or the right environment, it's "Ding!" and she's in her game. Don't underestimate her," said Cutrone.
- Have knowledge of everything that goes on in the industry. "Attend as many industry events as possible — especially if you're in NYC, where they are most accessible. It's always advisable meeting someone you'd like to work with face to face. You'd be surprised how many people are open about giving their business cards and following up!" — Fern Mallis, Creator of New York Fashion Week
- Don't forget about history either. "I prefer to interview people who have studied at a liberal arts college because then I know they can place fashion in a greater cultural context. That said, it doesn't matter what degree you have. You can educate yourself to the history of fashion, music, movies, and politics. But you need to know history in order to appreciate the relevance of why something is important today." — Anne Slowey, Fashion News Director of ELLE
- Assess your skills. You don't have to be the next Oscar del la Renta, André Leon Talley, or Patrick Demarchelier to work in fashion. It IS a business and each business has a multitude of components. "There are a lot of non-designer jobs in fashion: tech jobs, like Web developers, and graphic design jobs. Look at your talents, and there's probably a fashion job for them." — Stephanie Phair, Managing Director of The Outnet
- Stay true to yourself. "You have to follow what you think is right and do not compromise. Know who you are and what you are trying to accomplish." — Rachel Roy, designer of Rachel Roy
Be nice! All of the experts agree, this is by far the most important thing to keep in mind. "An assistant with a sour attitude is a real bummer; pleasant isn't only nice to be around, it gets the job done." — Amy Astley, Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue. "Be nice to everyone, even as you move up the ladder. There is no one in the industry who is beneath you." — Robbie Myers, Editor in Chief of ELLE