Let’s start by breaking down one common misconception, shall we? Yes, the fashion industry often appears to be what it is strategically marketed as – glamorous. Trust us, it can be (no one parties harder than the fashionably inclined)! However, with all of that glamor, comes a LOT of baggage. Scene: You’re working alongside one of the world’s most established editors at their respected publication – Fantastic, right? The phones are ringing, hundreds of employees are running through the hallways, coffee teetering in one hand, paper work in the other. Photographers are anxiously awaiting said-editor’s decision on photographs that arrived via e-mail no more than 5 minutes ago, while clothing racks heaving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise are being hauled from one end of the office to the other (through the same hallways that contain previously mentioned hundreds of people). Publicists A, B, and C all want to know when their feature stories will run (they’re asking you, because your editor is in a meeting). Did we mention that the phone is still ringing? Shoes need to be returned, samples need to be shipped… Get the picture? We’re not trying to scare you – we’re trying to prepare you. Fashion is hard.
1. Be on time.
As an intern, your patience will be tried and tested by your superiors. Getting coffee, running errands, and taking the senior staff’s calls suck; we know. Though you may not be cashing in monetarily for the lessons you’ll learn right away (most internships are unpaid), fashion will never pay for someone who is always late.
2. Survival of the fastest – in heels.
Most seasoned professionals will urge you not to wear a set of 4” heels on the job. Honestly? No one cares what you’re wearing on your feet during your day-to-day tasks, so long as you can keep up with every other intern in the office (note: they are likely wearing flats). That being said, nothing is more impressive than an intern who can rock an amazing pair of shoes while running from one end of the city to the other.
3. Shopping is a sport… Seriously!
Women around the world have made this claim for ages – but here’s the thing… At a magazine, it’s true; fashion editors shop collections for a living. As a fashion editor’s intern, you could be running to as many as ten stores and/or show rooms a day to scope out the season’s latest and greatest. As a sport, it requires a certain amount of training and know-how. Some basics? Know your fabrics, cuts, colors, and designers. Impress your superior with lots of references – take notes and photos of the things that you love, and make suggestions (e.g. This piece would look good with…). Nothing is more attractive to an editor than seeing an intern take initiative to impress.
4. If you’re not sure, ask.
Very few things get on the nerves of your boss more than what we like to call ‘avoidable accidents’. For example, spilling coffee on a co-worker is an accident (ok, sometimes…), whereas shipping a Donna Karan sample to the Tory Burch office (when all you needed to do was ask for the correct address), is an ‘avoidable accident’. Trust us, we know that you’re new. If you need help, never hesitate to ask.
5. There’s no “I” in team… But there is in “fashion”.
Scoring an internship at your favorite magazine is only half of the battle. Countless opportunities to show that you can work and thrive in a team environment will present themselves, and as much as an editor loves to work with a great ‘team’ of people, they always keep their eyes on ‘I’. Keep in mind, your superiors won’t always be able to send ‘team’ to Paris, or give ‘team’ $5,000 worth of designer goods to commend a job well done. That being said, it is absolutely necessary to make yourself not only memorable, but also irreplaceable. Why? If you don’t, there are 100,000+ individuals who are dying to fill your shoes. Superstar publicist Kelly Cutrone said it best: “Normal gets you nowhere.”
6. Network, network, network…
Being able to strike up conversation among strangers is key when it comes to thriving in the fashion industry. These days, that rule applies if said strangers are surrounding you physically, or merely present digitally. Bottom line? Make yourself a part of the conversation! Social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook…) make it possible to connect with contacts and companies that would have been impossible to reach ten years ago. Here are a few fashion notables that you should be keeping tabs on (if you’re not already):
Style Republic Magazine (@StyleRepublic): Umm… Do we even need to explain this one? Our Editor-in-Chief tweets from the office of Style Republic Magazine!
DKNY PR Girl (@Dkny): Fashion’s superstar publicist (and seasoned professor of all things that can/will go wrong in PR). This fashionista has more followers than cities have citizens!
Net-a-Porter (@NetAPorter): The web’s largest luxury fashion retailer.
The Business of Fashion (@BoF): Founder Imran Ahmed tweets about fashion from a business perspective. A design house can’t take one step forward without this savvy ‘Tweeter’ knowing about it!
Rachel Zoe (@RZRachelZoe): The industry’s leading red carpet stylist. Celebrity clients include Demi Moore, Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway… Needless to say, her behind-the-scenes photos rock!
Coco Rocha (@CocoRocha): Coco Rocha is one of the world's most sought after runway models, all while setting some of the world's greatest examples for fashionista's everywhere.
Jason Binn (@JasonBinn): The Founder & Chairman of Niche Media (home to publications such as Hamptons, Gotham, Ocean Drive...) has quite the following. Binn is forever tweeting photographs of the coolest celebrities at the industry's hottest parties.
Bergdorf Goodman (@Bergdorfs): New York City’s most prestigious shopping experience has found its way to Twitter. The fashionista behind this account shares fun tutorials, trunk show photos, and the store’s ‘5 Questions…’ video segment, featuring the world’s hautest designers.
Women’s Wear Daily (@WomensWearDaily): The newspaper (print, and digital) that dictates the lives of all women in (or aspiring to be in) a fashion-forward career.
Fashionably Marketing (@InsideFMM): Macala Lee Wright (Founder and publisher of Fashionably Marketing) keeps her followers interested and educated in fashion – both on and offline.
Bag Snob (@BagSnob): Keep your accessories cute and current by checking in on handbag connoisseur Tina Craig (AKA: The Bag Snob). Tina's daily tweets will keep your arm candy looking sleek & chic.