Colgate Couture: Why Fashion?

Well, this is it, my final “Colgate Couture” article before I graduate and pass the column on to the next writer. I have truly loved writing these pieces and will very much miss it. Obviously, I feel strongly about fashion; it is an interest that has grown and developed through my years working and interning in its various capacities. Lots of people equate fashion with designing, but the field is really much more multi­faceted. So, for my last word I thought it would be useful to give some real-life, first-hand insight into some different elements of the industry; who knows, maybe one is the path for you.

The summer of my sophomore year at Colgate, I was an intern at Lucky maga­zine, a Condé Nast women’s fashion pub­lication. It was one of the greatest learn­ing experiences of my life; I valued it so much, I returned the very next year. At a fashion magazine, most of an intern’s time is spent dealing with garment sam­ples, which are pieces sent to the maga­zine as options for stories and photo­shoots. Interns retrieve the samples from designer showrooms and PR firms, check them in, organize them on the appropri­ate editor’s rolling rack (or deliver them to an urgent photoshoot if need be) and send them back when the magazine is finished with them. Sometimes an intern will assist at a photoshoot, setting up all of the samples or documenting garment credits; other times an intern will help an editor or assistant with a specific project. But always, working as an intern at a fashion magazine is super fast-paced and intense. The sample pick-ups and drop-offs often involve trekking across Manhattan (in less than comfortable shoes) while hauling enormous garment bags full of valuable samples (through the rain, on the subway, up and down stairs). Usually there is a very tight time frame, or at least the expectation of utmost efficiency. You are always first to arrive and dead last to leave. But it is absolutely worth it; just being present in such a vibrant creative environment and seeing how everything really works is reward enough. Hands down, it was the best job I have had.

I have also interned in fashion public relations, which is essentially the opposite side of the business. A fashion public relations company (or division of a brand) is what lends the magazines/publications the garment samples in the hopes that their pieces will be photographed and therefore publicized. A fashion PR intern largely deals with the showroom, which is where all of the samples are put on display for when magazine editors or assistants come to view them in search of pieces for a story. So of course, it is all about visual presentation. An intern organizes the racks according to color and style, dresses the mannequins, creates the accessory display and assures everything is perfect for a run-through. PR interns will, at times, help make pulls for a specific story if the magazine makes a remote request. Also, it is an intern’s job to scan the media (and I mean, like, 20 magazines a day) to check for credits. When I worked in PR, I was at the Italian brand United Colors of Benetton and it was great to get a fuller picture of how the transactions work from the other end to make a fashion magazine.

Finally, over last summer I was a visual display design and merchandising intern for Urban Outfitters Inc., specifically Anthropologie. For any of you who have ever been to an Anthropologie store, you know that part of its marketing strategy is extravagantly, creatively decorated display set-ups for the clothing. My job was to help design and create those displays: folding vintage books origami-style to make an arch around the dresses or painting old buoys from the beach to complement the nautical trend, for in­stance. I would then help dress the mannequins in outfits that worked with the theme. It was a very different experience for me, and totally wonderful. If you are artsy, you may be interested in something like it.

So with that I leave you. I hope this, and all of my pieces this year, have been helpful. Goodbye, good luck and stay stylish.