A 20-Something Girl's Guide To Breaking Into The Fashion Industry
The world of fashion may very well be the most obnoxious and superficial but oh-so-wonderful environment to work in. The fashion industry is an exclusive place where some are willing to risk everything to belong to, but few are actually granted access. The fashion scene is reserved for an exclusive clique, and entering it takes hard work, great connections and the right attitude.
If you want to belong to the most beautiful industry in the world, you need a sharp tongue, tough skin and an expensive handbag. Are you dying to go to the shows at Paris Fashion Week? You want to get photographed by the FaceHunter, discuss next season's hottest looks with Carine Roitfelt while sitting next to Lady Gaga at Lincoln Center? Here's a guide on how to make your way out alive through the jungle of crocodile-skin handbags, Fendi furs and poisonous snakes:
Start a fashion blog
Emily Schuman, Bryan Boy and Elin Kling did it, and so can you. Unless you have an online reference today, you don't exist and a fashion-blog is this industry's version of a business card. Models usually write the most popular fashion blogs, but if you can't be the hottest, be the weirdest, coolest or most unique. People will want to see something different on your blog as there are too many generic blogs filled with failed selfies and ootd wearing wannabe models out there.
Once you have a half-ass blog, you either put in 120% of your time to make it famous by literally mentioning it to every person you meet (I actually know a girl who did this and got pretty successful) or you start pitching fashion magazines about writing for them with your blog as reference. There is no short cut to making an awesome, successful blog but some things seem to be standard on every fashion outlet; update all the f*cking time. Tweet the hell out of every post. Skip the creepy selfies, and feature nice, professionally taken pictures. Be funny and classy. No naked pics. There are plenty of other sites for that.
You know you're successful when: Man Repeller high-fives you in the street, and Net-a-Porter wants in on whatever you're blogging about.
Attend fashion week events
If you work in fashion, attend fashion weeks, or at least pretend you do. If you don't have the budget to go to all four of them, try to make it to at least one. Fashion weeks are the perfect opportunity to meet superficial and obnoxious editors who are invited to come and see a specific designer's take on what next season will look like. It's an amazing networking event where you can collect stacks of business cards from people wearing funny hats and high heels, and send follow-up emails to with your blog details.
Needless to say, access to the events taking place during F-week are extremely hard as otherwise you'd be having every other K-Mart wearing redneck running around Lincoln Center, and then the real fashion people wouldn't feel as special anymore. Therefore, in order to get an invite you need to write an “invitation request” to the PR person at every fashion house, presenting either your amazing fashion blog, or the magazine you write for.
Attach a press package, Google stats or any other reference for the PR department to understand how important you are. If they don't reply it's a “no”. Don't harass them, because you can actually end up on the fashion equivalent to the “no flying” list, and starting your career as a fashion-terrorist is definitely not the path you want to go down.
You know you're successful when: Tom Ford assigns a special person to make sure you have everything you need when arriving to a show, and the post-it on the chair next to you reads, “Kanye”.
Attend fashion parties
Okay, so most (all) of the fashion houses said “no” to your request to park your ass at the shows at Somerset House or Lincoln Center. Continue working on the blog/harass magazines and attend fashion parties. During fashion week, every club wants to cash in on the fashion frenzy going on, and thus organize “Fashion week parties”.
Since you're already friends with Rocco at the door at 1OAK in NYC, and Amar at Raspoutine in Paris you shouldn't have a problem getting into the clubs even during these highly selective private events.
Once inside, scope out any SOHO gays, overdressed fashionistas and just anyone with funny colored hair and smelly vintage dresses from the 80s. The keyword here is: mingle. People at these parties know someone who knows someone in fashion PR, so start talking to feather hats and Alaïa dresses about your work, as this is an alternative route to fashion fame. Dare to talk to people even if they look stuck-up and their handbag is more expensive than yours. They're as insecure as you, I promise.
You know you're successful when: Jimmy Goldstein aka Fashion Crocodile Dundee calls to ask what fashion party you're planning to go to, and the owner of a haute couture house invites you to join his table at the bar of Plaza Athenée in Paris.
Get a fashion internship
If you're not the social butterfly or night owl, you're pretty much screwed, because fashion is all about talking the talk and walking the walk. But fear not, you can also make your way in through old-fashioned work (notice how I'm putting this as a last resort?). Getting an internship in fashion is actually quite easy, as every fashion house is happy to cut down costs and hire slaves to move around shoe boxes, update boring Excel files and take out the trash for their diva-managers.
I've been there as a 21 year old, and almost cried out of happiness when I had to show Anna Wintour the way to the restrooms at a fashion show. The goal here is “hard work.” The more ambitious, responsive and alert you seem to everything from getting enough brown sugar for your boss' green tea, to making sure that some celebrity attending the fashion show gets her outfit in the right size, the better your future outlook in fashion is.
You know you're successful when: Your boss gives you a smile and actually says “thank you” for bringing her coffee, and you get asked to work outside your normal working-hours. For free, every week until the show.
Top photo credit: Getty Images