According to retail and fashion consultant Leslie Asfour, there were over 4 million people working in the US fashion industry as of last year. This includes areas such as design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, retailing, advertising, communications, publishing, and consulting.
Young men and women are constantly being reminded by industry professionals (designers, stylists, and editors etc.) that while rewarding, working in fashion isn’t always as it appears on-screen. Sure, there are glamorous parties and freebies but those aren’t always part of the everyday work slog - particularly for entry level workers.
Not discounting individuals who are truly passionate about creating fashion content and garment or print design, even the premise of long-term low paid internships post-graduation (assuming they’re paid at all) don’t seem to be putting them off.
Despite there being many paths leading into roles within the fashion industry, there are more applicants than ever yearning for a place at one of America’s leading fashion and design colleges.
Parsons, The New School for Design, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) are among the top college choices for many aspiring fashion professionals - but do undergraduate degrees from these specialist institutions really give you an advantage in the fashion job market?
Putting aside the fact The Hills’ Lauren Conrad was already a reality TV star with endorsement deals falling out of her butt, her [supposed] time at FIDM was complemented by a long running part-time internship with Teen Vogue. Fellow Hills star Whitey Port was a student at University of Southern California (USC) where she majored in gender studies while interning alongside Conrad.
Yes, these two had the distinct advantage of being famous AF which undoubtedly helped launch their fashion careers - Conard debuted her first clothing line in 2007 and Port’s fashion brand Whitney Eve is still going strong - but for those eager for an internship at a national publication or well known design house, it’s reassuring to see one’s place of study isn’t always a make-or-break factor in getting your foot in the door.
Perhaps long forgotten by Hills fans everywhere, Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of Into The Gloss and Glossier, appeared in several episodes and seemed at odds with Conrad and Port who jokingly dubbed her “Super Intern.” Weiss was a Studio Arts major at NYU who flew to LA for her part-time internship at Teen Vogue three days a week.* After her studies, she secured a job at W magazine as a fashion assistant and later worked under Vogue’s Elissa Santisi as a stylist’s assistant for three years.
Following Port’s adventures in New York after graduation, The City (2008-2010) depicted her life as a PR underling at People’s Revolution led by Kelly Cutrone. Famously butting heads with Olivia Palermo (who studied media at The New School), Port’s PG-13 storyline was quickly forgotten by viewers who tuned in to see Palermo’s on-screen catfights with Elle’s youngest ever director of PR, Erin Kaplan.
In a story similar to Weiss’, Kaplan’s appearance on the reality program was one of happenstance. Already putting in the hours at Elle just as Weiss was a regular face at Teen Vogue at the times of filming, Kaplan’s continued career success is not attributed to having appeared on The City just as Weiss’ isn’t attributed to having appeared on The Hills.
Majoring in business and communications at Marymount Manhattan, Kaplan admits she had “a ridiculous number of internships throughout school” before being hired as a marketing assistant at Elle and working her way up.
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Video Credit: SlipsAndStones, xCyriellex, Forbes, Dare to DAIR.
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