Isn’t it many a little girl’s dream growing up, flicking through glossy fashion magazines, to find a way inside? To be the person who produces those beautiful glossy images, or who writes those insightful articles? Well, maybe it wasn’t every girl’s dream, but it was certainly my own. Growing up the glitz and glamour of the fashion world was hard for me to resist; I spent days poring over magazines, tearing out ideas, creating mood boards. I still get a jolt of excitement when I buy the newest Elle and open the first glossy page. They say print is dead but for me there’s nothing like the feel of a magazine in your hands – you can’t scribble your thoughts and ideas all over a web page. So, naturally, I was one of those girls who wanted in – in to this elusive, glamorous and notoriously exclusive world.
Now, a few years later, I’ve interned at both Grazia and Fabulous magazines as well as in fashion PR. At Fabulous I was a fashion intern, whereas at Grazia I interned mostly in editorial, so naturally these were very different experiences.
My favourite thing about Fabulous was being part of a huge company. Fabulous comes out every week in the Sun, so I got to intern in the News Building, which was amazing. It’s a huge glass building with like 15 floors, very high tech, with gorgeous, modern offices, a roof terrace and a massive canteen. The people there varied – some of the more senior staff, not going to lie, could be quite bitchy – but the other interns I worked with were amazing, and the majority of people were polite and friendly. My day-to-day mostly included managing the fashion cupboard and organising returns, sending out emails and just ordinary cleaning and filing, as well as a couple of transcribing and research tasks. It was amazing being around so many clothes, being creative and organising them into stories, and helping to pull for shoots. By far the best task was going along to photoshoots – assisting the stylist there was so amazing; and during just 2 weeks at Fabulous I managed to assist on 2 shoots. I loved every minute of it. While your contribution to the actual magazine might be smaller as a fashion intern, it’s still pretty cool to see your name in the credits of a magazine as the ‘stylist’s assistant.’ While I was at Fabulous I even helped to style Nicole Scherzinger, which was pretty surreal.
At Grazia, I was given a lot more responsibility as an editorial intern. A lot of the time I was just expected to find my own tasks to do; the ethos there was very much that people just kept to themselves and got on with their own thing. This isn’t to say that the people weren’t nice, just that the mood was quieter and more work-focused. Again though, it was nice being part of a huge company with loads of other magazines in the same building (Grazia is part of Bauer Media). Most of my jobs included mostly research tasks; I’d spend most of my days researching story ideas and then pitching them to the online/features teams. Having so much responsibility actually led to amazing results – articles I had pitched and written covering the Women’s March on London back in January were published twice on the Grazia website. I even ended up in the print magazine, which was absolutely surreal, when I was asked to write a few, short cultural summaries of various films and books that had come out recently. I even got my own name credit, so, needless to say, I ripped out that page and framed on my wall. I also spent some time helping out in the fashion cupboard at Grazia, which was pretty amazing -especially being surrounded by the latest designer collections. There was a particularly beaut pair of YSL heels I uploaded to Instagram which I think will stay in my heart forever.
Bearing all that in mind, I thought I’d put together a few pointers about interning in fashion.
1. UNDERSTAND THE PECKING ORDER – SHOW RESPECT
One of the first things to know is that the fashion industry is notoriously hierarchical and competitive. They say that in every industry you have to “start at the bottom” – but nowhere is this more true than fashion. The hierarchy hangs like an unwritten rule over the whole industry. If you’re an intern, expect to be treated a little like you’re at the bottom of the heap. Expect to be given the worst tasks to do, expect to be told to get coffee and run (often difficult) errands. It’s not quite like the Devil Wears Prada where Andy had to pick up her boss’ dry cleaning – but it’s not that far off that, either. As an intern I’ve often had to run out of the office, make deliveries, sometimes travelling to the other side of London to post things and pick up urgent samples. Just accept this and don’t complain or rant about having to do crappy tasks – you’re just starting out and most people above you have already paid their dues. It’s hectic, at times it’s glamorous, but it’s also a lot of hard work.
2. BE CONFIDENT
I honestly CANNOT stress this enough – being shy is going to get you nowhere in fashion. It is such a highly saturated and competitive industry already that the only way to get ahead is to stand out – no major designer, journalist or PR agent got to where they are today without being bold. While it’s important to show respect and understand that there are those that come above you, it’s all about striking a balance between this and showing your own confidence and personality. Make sure to be proactive and put yourself forward for as many opportunities as possible. When I was at Fabulous, I basically blagged my way onto my first photo shoot by constantly offering to run samples up and, while I was up there, asking if there was anything anyone needed. This paid off, as the stylist noticed how hard I was working and asked me to assist her on the shoot. And finally, in my opinion it’s great to introduce yourself. At every internship I’ve had I’ve gone up to those around me (only if they’re not busy, of course!!!) and introduced myself almost immediately. In an industry which is often about first impressions, it’s important to create a good one – one that is both confident and polite.
3. BUILD YOUR NETWORK
In fashion it’s all about the people you meet; building connections is SO important. It’s true, most of the opportunities and internships I’ve got have been through connections. I actually got my internship at Fabulous because I conincidentally knew someone who worked elsewhere in the News Building. He’d crossed paths with the fashion assistant at Fabulous; so he passed her email on to me and recommended me to her. So, maybe this goes without saying, but be as friendly as you can to people around you. Again, don’t be timid: say hi to the people from other magazines when you see them in the kitchen, ask about their day, ask about your co-workers’ weekends. Each company is different, but in most companies people appreciate the effort you make when you try and identify and make connections with them. Keep in contact with the other interns you meet – not only are they usually all lovely, but you never know, you might be interning with the future fashion assistant at Vogue.
4. GROW A THICK SKIN
Not everyone you meet is going to be your best friend. Some people you meet, not going to lie, can be quite catty, and make quite cutting remarks. When I started in fashion I was quite sensitive but I quickly learned to grow a thick skin and not take everything that people said to heart. People may well criticise your work and make you change it; people may make sharp remarks, but just know that people are entitled to their own opinion and to say whatever they want; and you’re entitled to not take it to heart. Learn to take criticism on board and embrace suggestions made to you. Whilst some of these suggestions may simply be given to you because you’re an intern and sometimes people want to prove that they know more than you, some of these suggestions will be genuinely useful and help improve your work.
So, fashion is a complex industry to crack. I quickly found out that behind the sheen of glitz and the glamour, comes a lot of hard work, uncomfortable moments and difficult decisions to make. But, I still wouldn’t change it for the world.
One of the great things about being in the industry is discovering cool new designers – how cute are my Catania dress and zip trousers (linked below) from Cubic Original? I love styling up really original pieces like these – the collection is available to shop at Own the Look.
DISCLAIMER: I received the clothes from Cubic Original with compliments however all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Photos are by the lovely Justine xoxo
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