Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Fashionista’s “How to Make it in Fashion” event in New York City. This stylish convention was filled with knowledgeable professionals from all different branches of the fashion industry. Some of the speakers included menswear designer Todd Snyder, designer Rachel Roy, critic Cathy Horyn, costume designer/stylist Patricia Field, designer Christian Siriano, and founder and creative director of Rodin Olio Lusso Linda Rodin.
Here are the 6 things I learned about how to make it in fashion:
To be successful in the fashion industry, “you need to love it and be passionate about it.” This is one of the first things said at the conference by Fashionista.com’s executive editor, Alyssa Vingan, and it was repeated, in different words, by numerous speakers throughout the entire event. In order to be successful in the fashion industry, you need to be obsessed with it; you need to love it and be committed to it. Be optimistic about fashion!
If you have an optimistic state of mind, you will create optimistic products,” said Style keynote speaker Patricia Field.
The internet has changed fashion for the better. During the “Why Menswear is Having a Moment” panel, it was reiterated that menswear is indeed having a moment primarily because of the internet. Because of blogs and websites like The Sartorialist, Hypebeast, and Four Pins, men are becoming more concerned with the way they present themselves and are even starting to communicate about the latest trends through social media. With the help of Instagram, people are looking at street style pictures for inspiration on how to dress. Instagram has become a vital tool in the fashion industry as individuals are sharing outfit pictures instantly and brands are looking for people with large followings to advertise with.
Intern, intern, intern! Ask anyone in fashion and they’ll say the same thing, “experience is valuable.” Ask around for internships! Don’t be afraid to ask for things, because if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Christian Siriano said, “my favorite interns are the ones who ask an annoying amount of questions.” Questions never hurt. Even if you go to school for fashion, you may learn about the industry but you don’t get the actual hands-on experience until you intern or get a job in the industry. Also, after interning, many people learn about what they want to do and don’t want to do. For example, someone may go into an internship thinking they want to design but come out learning they’d be better at marketing or public relations.
Internships are the most important thing you can do.”
Fashion is collaboration. You have to find team players that have the same vision and passion as you. Patricia Field commented that, to be successful, you should “go with what you feel confident and strong [about].” Find other passionate people to focus on the aspects you may not be as strong in. You need to find partners that have the talent you lack. Build your network and form lifelong relationships, so when you need someone in public relations, you have someone right in your back pocket.
Hard work is key. Rachel Roy remembered that when she first started in the fashion industry, she worked retail. Even though it was difficult for her, she stayed focused and managed to make her way to be the successful designer she is today. Hard work drives success; prove that you deserve it. Don’t worry about money yet. If you put your heart and soul into it, the money and success will follow. To make it in this industry, you need to go out, be determined, and most importantly, work hard.
Follow your heart! Lastly, you won’t be successful unless you follow your heart and believe in yourself. Have fun with it! Knowing who you are and being authentic to yourself is the most important thing. Christian Siriano remarked, “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I listened to all the advice people were giving me. Follow your own path” This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take other people’s advice, but rather, have faith in yourself. Follow your passion, whatever it may be, and believe in yourself!