Working in Fashion: Expectation vs. Reality
- BY: SARAH SWIFT
- Sep. 11, 2018
I knew I wanted to work in fashion around the same time LC knew she probably should’ve worn a jacket on her first day at Teen Vogue. Through devouring every magazine, memoir and movie I could get my hands on, I unwittingly formed a set of preconceived ideas about what it meant to work in the industry. But with five years of fashion industry experience under my belt, I can safely say that the movies are nothing like the books - which are also nothing like real life. Ahead, the fashion industry myths I once believed, that are now well and truly busted.
It’s competitiveCap? Check. Gown? Check. Growing fear that I am just one in an endless sea of fashion hopefuls, all with the exact same qualifications and experience? Er.. Check? While the fashion and wider creative industries remain highly coveted and notoriously tricky to break into, once you have a foot in the door, the game changes. You stop expending all your energy trying to compete with others, and instead look inwards at your own skills and goals. Honing your skills, celebrating your strengths and relishing opportunities for growth all contribute to your value as a professional, and will get your further than any friendly fire ever could. Unless you plan on living the freelance life. Then, the hustle is real.
It’s Insta-worthyAll too often, the endless social media scroll has us blissfully forgetting that work (and life in general) is unglamorous 23 hours out of 24. Sure, that stylist’s assistant you follow on Instagram just posted a breathtaking snap of today’s location, but has probably been awake since 4am, schlepping suitcases of clothing and sitting cross-legged on the floor taping shoes. That beautifully curated desk space your PR friend just uploaded? The tissue box, scrunched up post-its and chunky keyboard are all just out of shot.
It’s frivolousThose who don’t respect the industry or understand its true power won’t last long (and we’re not talking about a cerulean sweater monologue). While, yes, fashion is incredibly fun, you don’t fully appreciate its strength until you’re exposed to the inner workings of a company committed to doing good. Whether it’s working on closing the wage gap, a shift towards more sustainable manufacturing and waste management practices, or empowering women through access to clothes, financing or learning resources, there are some serious moves happening within the fashion industry right now. See? It’s not all air kisses and champagne.
It’s a little hangrySpeaking of air kisses and champagne… That’s not the day-to-day diet of a living, breathing fashion person. On my first day on the job, I expected to see sad desk salad, sparkling water and little else by way of sustenance. Much to my (quiet) elation, there is bread. There is birthday cake. There are 3pm cookies, communal lolly jars and all the utensils required to get your chef on during your lunch break. Sure, busy days at work might call for a one-handed sandwich on the go or breakfast that doesn’t get a look in til brunch, but rest assured that food and fashion aren’t mutually exclusive.