When starting out in a new field or following your passions it can be hard to know where to start. Industries such as law or medicine have slightly more defined paths and so can feel more accessible in terms of practical advice but for those seeking more creative paths, it can feel like a very closed network where you’re expected to figure it out on your own. These days with the rise of social media and our constant content consumption, the barriers have been broken down with more and more people being vocal about their paths and using their voice to help others on their climb up the creative career ladder. Publications such as Fashionista, The Cut and Coveteur offer great content series dedicated to the career paths of successful industry leaders with fashion and the arts. Closer to home in the UK and Europe, The Intern 24/7, as well as the Glam Observer and Pepper Your Talk, provide content, courses and events covering what it takes to break into the fashion industry.
Here we’ve searched through these publications to find the best information available to boost your career in the fashion industry.
From the Fashionista archives…
In their long-running series “How I’m Making It” the team at Fashionista talk to people making a living in the fashion and beauty industry about how they broke into the industry and built a successful career.
“Celine Khavarani may not be as instantly recognizable as the celebrities she’s teamed up with throughout her career, but you’ve surely seen her work. While heading up VIP teams at companies like Prada and Marc Jacobs, Khavarani has spotted up-and-coming talents for some of the most memorable ad campaigns and front row moments of the last decade — think Hailee Steinfeld’s controversial spots for Miu Miu or Dane DeHaan’s turn as the face of Prada menswear.
But in 2018, Khavarani switched gears, moving from VIP to a broader PR role as senior vice president of communications at Tamara Mellon, with whom her professional path has been crossing for 14 years. She first interviewed with Thomas Yeardye, Mellon’s late father, for a role at Jimmy Choo in the early aughts, which cemented their longterm relationship. “He was somebody that she admired very much, and because we had a really good meeting, I think that’s all she needed to offer me the job,” she recalls. When Khavarani ultimately left Jimmy Choo to join Prada, she did so with the blessing of Mellon and the promise that they would work together one day.
There’s much to learn from Khavarani’s career path, from the importance of taking every phone call and answering every email to overcoming the fear of learning new things and changing gears late in your career. The new mom is also chiming in on how she defines “having it all.” Get ready to take notes.”
“I studied fashion in Europe and in New York and ended up in Los Angeles at the Fashion Institute of Design And Merchandising (FIDM). I had friends at USC and UCLA film school and they were like, “We’re doing our little movies and you’re in fashion, can you help us?” This was the moment that everything changed because once I figured out you can work with a script, create a whole entire world, figure out the characters and create a life for them, it was quite addicting. While in school, I started doing music videos and commercials. It was the ’80s and MTV was starting up. I started working with MTV on “Just Say, Julie.” It was really fun. Weird Al Yankovic and [celebrity guests would] come on. We were making clothes and costumes out of nothing.”
“The first thing one might notice about Lisa Aiken is that she’s “chic,” that most coveted of fashionable adjectives. But beyond the confines of Instagram, Aiken has built something of a reputation for herself as a fashion director with a keen eye for up-and-coming talent, a skill built up over several years of working with luxury e-tailers like Net-a-Porter and MyTheresa. Now settling in as the women’s fashion director at Moda Operandi, Aiken is ready to bring burgeoning designers to a new audience.
And to think, it all started with an internship at Matches Fashion. We asked Aiken to fill us in on how she parlayed her second-ever internship into a full-time gig, why she feels it’s her duty (and ours, too!) to support new designers and what her best advice is for today’s aspiring fashion directors.”
“Vestiare Collective is where fashion’s fickle elite go to cleanse their closets of seasons past. Started nearly a decade ago by Fanny Moizant, Sophie Hersan, Alexandre Cognard, Christian Jorge, Henrique Fernandes and Sebastien Fabre in France, the luxury resale site has become a leading player in the secondhand fashion world thanks to its commitment to authenticity and community component, which allows members to interact with each other to ask questions and negotiate prices.
The idea to start the site came to Moizant during the 2009 recession, when she noticed an uptick in cash-strapped fashion bloggers selling last season’s goods. At the time, there wasn’t a trusted online site that could guarantee a shopper that the Hermès or Chanel handbag in her shopping cart was real and give a fair price for the piece depending on its condition. So, to save those at risk of purchasing a Firkin (a fake Birkin), Moizant launched the online resale site out of her apartment in Paris.
In just a few months, Moizant and five other co-founders gathered over 2,000 luxury pieces to sell by simply reaching out to friends. That community has since grown to count more than eight million members across 48 countries. Now, the company operates six offices worldwide and has a staff of over 340 employees — 100 new hires were made in 2018 alone. The luxury resale site also received a fresh influx of funds in 2017, which it put towards international expansion, mainly in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.”
“It goes without saying that the individuals put into positions of power in media will be tasked with not only leading significant cultural and financial change, but rewriting the rulebook altogether — and having the worldview to back it up. To that point, there’s no better real-time example than Moana Luu, the newly-appointed chief content and creative officer of Essence.
Prior to accepting the role — one the Caribbean-born executive recalls as always being apart of her “American dream” — Luu cut her teeth in the early years of her career working across nearly every medium in the creative world, from media and fashion to art and music. Having done so in some of the most culturally rich corners of the world, like Paris and the Philippines, Luu has gathered a unique understanding of how different people around the world want to consume and communicate.
In her work in media alone, Luu has created and launched television channels and programs, web applications, websites and magazines consumed by millions of people around the globe. What’s more, she most recently served as chief creative and brand officer at Trace Media Group, the leading media corporation in Africa, where she led the company’s rebranding strategy.”
From Coveteur archives…
“In school, when I was about to decide what to take for study, for university, I wanted to do psychology, and my mother actually was the one who said, ‘Ada, we always support [you], and of course I’m super happy if you become a psychiatrist or something like that, but I have to tell you as your mom that you have a gift. You are super creative, so I think you should pursue that.’ So I started studying fashion, and while I was studying fashion, I had the opportunity to intern at MTV Italia, that had just opened at the time. I started working with DJs and creating their own looks and personalities. So for me, it was the first time I approached style with a personality. And that was super important, also, later on in my career, because it’s very important to understand who you are dressing, for which purpose. Really, it’s not only the body type.”
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“Adele Tetangco was doing just fine in fashion marketing even before launching her fast-growing upstart Garmentory. But when her tech veteran co-founder Sunil Gowda approached her to start something online, things really started taking off. Together they came up with a fresh concept for online shopping at boutiques—where shoppers could name their price for sale items. That was 2014. Fast-forward to the present, and Garmentory is revolutionizing the #shopsmall/emerging designer scene with a platform that features more than 400 boutiques and 3,000 designers.”
“Print is not dead. Sure, the landscape has shifted to digital media, but the craving for tangible glossy paper printed precisely with exhaustively edited words still lingers. You know the feeling! And Oprah Winfrey knows it too. Which is why she nabbed Lucy Kaylin—a Vogue, GQ, and Marie Claire alum—for the top spot of O, The Oprah Magazine. Since taking the reigns as editor-in-chief in 2013, Kaylin (along with her fleet of editors) has filled the pages with quirky, entertaining stories all while encouraging readers to participate in conversation on tough topics—especially in the current political climate—and stacked a Rolodex of experts to cover a myriad of subjects with a strong voice of accountability. She also recently launched the sparkly OprahMag.com.It’s a big, fun, and sometimes a hectic job. Which is why a genius Post-It hack and a clever email MO are her secrets to making it all happen. Here, we talk with the EIC on her early career challenges, how the O staff are surviving the changing publishing landscape, and the power of a great glass of wine with girlfriends to unwind.”
“Charles is hustling 24/7, whether she’s getting her clients press coverage, pulling off successful events (not sure if you were at Reign’s one-year anniversary, but you should have been), or elevating her brands to the next level. A true testament to her grind is Charles’s brand-new (massive!) showroom. It’s so cosy-chic, we could move in. We managed to catch some time with Charles between one of her many meetings and dinner dates (we wonder when she sleeps, too), and sat down to talk about how she got to where she is today, how she manages work-life balance, and what’s next (she’s always looking to add womenswear!). We suggest you take some notes on this one.”
“As much as we hate to admit it, the fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break into. Whether you want to work in marketing, e-commerce, PR, editorial, design, etc., it all requires a specific combination of luck, timing, and tenacity, and once you’ve gotten through the door, you must scale the mountain that is your own personal brand to find success. Whenever we discover someone who has managed all of this while remaining a genuine delight to be around, we clearly have to learn how they did it. In this case, that person is Michelle Salem, the brand manager for Opening Ceremony in New York.”
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A few miscellaneous gems…
“It’s intimidating to ask for advice and scary to ask for mentorship, but more often than not, Carly and Michelle have learned that people are willing to help.
Both women advise that when people do say yes, be respectful of their time. “Come prepared — really prepared. Do the research. If you ask to sit down with someone, remember it’s not about a long chat back and forth. Go in knowing what you want answered ahead of time, because you may only get a moment with them.”
“Few people understand Instagram better than Eva Chen. As the company’s head of fashion partnerships, she’s responsible for building relationships with designers, models, and editors. (She was instrumental in getting Stories off the ground.) A dedicated user with a million followers, she regularly posts pictures of everything in her life, from her two small kids to the CFDA Awards.
Before going tech-side, Chen worked as Teen Vogue’s beauty editor for over seven years. In 2013, she was handpicked by Anna Wintour to be the editor-in-chief of Lucky Magazine. Chen lives in New York City with her children, Tao and Ren, and her husband. She recently published her first children’s book, Juno Valentine. Here’s how she gets it done.”