Secret Truths You Don't Learn in Fashion School

3:02 PM

In this awesome article by 39th and Broadway the authors touch on what they wish someone had told them about working in the industry, and I must say that upon completing my internship and now about to start my first career-building experience in the industry (I try my hardest not to use the word “job”), I must say I am better prepared for what this industry has to offer. Still I am very convinced that there are some what I like to call “secret truths” that are still instore for me to learn.

So they offer 4 secret truths:

Money or lack there of was the number one issue

Working conditions in the garment center are sub-par

The insane hours you will work and how they will be wasted

Competition is fierce in every category and at every level

Money or lack there of was the number one issue:

“Whether starting your own company or working for 'the man', the starting salaries are pitiful.”

· I would have to say this is pretty accurate. I have noticed that lots of us are willing to intern well past graduation just to keep our feet in the industry. Out of shear bold I would ask my interviewer the suggested salary for the position for which I was interviewing and trust me from Production Assistant to Assistant Designer I was thoroughly confused. I was speaking with a friend who works in the admin field in the health industry and when interviewing for a new position she mentioned her starting salary, almost three times what I have heard salaries to be in fashion.

Working conditions in the garment center are sub-par

“There is also a bizarre relationship with technology, a small family run company can have the newest Macs and best programs while a certain $4 billion company uses faxes to send techpacks. Then there is the food issue which boils down to, nobody eats!”

· I think we all get a bit misled by The Hills and The City where the shiny offices are filled with the latest technology and plush desk chairs. But the truth is office computers run slow, shippers can run on Windows 98 while you’re sending ’04. Your school teaches you on the latest Creative Suite with all the short cuts an bells and whistles and then you have Creative Suite basic basic #1 where keyboard short cuts are nonexsistent and gradient variations that can be done only two colors at a time and you are ready to jump out the window!

· One thing I will disagree with is the eating statement. You do eat, but you eat on the run, at your desk, hell whenever you can! Delivery men are your new boyfriends and they know when you’ve been cheating! You will have tax/tip/delivery charge added into your new accounting sheets.

· Next up the buildings in which your clothing/samples are manufactured. We once had sendouts in a building that was so gritty that every time we entered I went into a sneezing fit! We also made a game of checking the elevator inspection dates, lol. Some of the most beautiful clothing in the world is sewn together in some of the most grimy, unsophisticated, places you will ever step foot in. Leave your YSL wedges at home, this is def the place to bring your Converses.

The insane hours you will work and how they will be wasted

“…maybe you thought you’d be developing tons of original graphics and creating new logos or innovative artwork but instead, spend most of your time ‘tweaking’ the same artwork for your boss into a hundred different variations.”

· Now one of the great things about being an intern is that I never had to see the super long hours and I only worked one weekend when I volunteered to be a part of Market Week. However…I will be starting my new position and though the title is Assistant Designer I’m sure that my main responsibilities will be very much like this quoted statement. Lol

Competition is fierce in every category and at every level

“Bosses keeping employees down because they are threatened by them, co-workers stabbing each-other in the back, assistants sabotaging their supervisors to the higher-ups.”

· Now I have to make it very clear that this is not at all my personal experience however I wanted to type what I feel to be the harshest statement of this section. It’s better to prepare for war even if you never have to fight the battle And let’s hope you don’t. But I will say that there is a strong need for thick skin in this industry There can be a lot of passive aggressive behavior and a lot of little things can be done to your career in that emotional aftermath. Know your emotional strengths and weaknesses and approach higher ups with caution. Be humble without being a brown-noser, and know who you can and cannot vent to in your office or you will find yourself being talked down to adding unnecessary tention to an already emotional situation.

· I know that I have not mentioned my internship much, if at all here on No Fear Just DIVA, and I will fix that, but I will say this: My immediate supervisor was amazing to me! Working with her was such a humbling experience because she never talked down to me. She knew my strengths and when I didn’t understand. She was a teacher and was patient with me when she could tell that I was getting bored, needed to be challenged, or had a superiority complex (I will write about that later). She wasn’t threatened by me and genuinely happy for me when I got my job. There was no competition between us.

What do you think travelers? Not all of you may have graduated from school just yet but I would love to hear some of your secret truths about the industry, or even your takes on the ones presented here. We have so much to learn about this secret society we call the Fashion Industry and I am more than happy to share those experiences with you!

Happy Travels!

"One Step Forward, Just Glance Back. No Fear Just DIVA!" [source]

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