As the end of week 3 of my summer internship has come to an end, Ive managed to get the hang of things and grasped what goes on behind the scenes of working in a fashion brand. By speaking to some co-workers and my boss about their jobs and what they have done in the past, this provided a great way to understand various job roles within the industry and which ones I would consider doing in the future.
Throughout my time here so far, Ive noticed that there always seems to be food around! This week in particular, assorted foods have been brought in every other day to celebrate a co-workers birthdays. Trust me, forget the “Fashion people don’t eat” stereotype. They LOVE food! To quote one of the pattern cutters, the pattern room is the “worst place to go on a diet!” From cakes, chips, cheese, fruits, crackers, dips etc., I officially decided that I have picked the right place to intern..
While completing my assigned tasks throughout the week, I once again got to help out at the Design Department one afternoon. They always seem to be playing music whenever I walk in there especially songs by Drake for some reason.. (They have good taste in music though). Apart from sticking color swatches onto sheets, my main task was to source selected AW14 garments and borrow them from various departments so the Designer can take pictures of them for a presentation. Going on a scavenger hunt within various floors of the building, allowed me to see other departments I haven’t been to before such as the Buying Department, Web and the Showroom.
Meanwhile in the pattern room, tasks consisted of the usual filing, boxing, scanning/editing sketches, printing off master specs of patterns by using Gerber along with additional new tasks such as cutting patterns for the Pattern Cutters. By using Web PDM and becoming familiar with Gerber Technology, I learned additional features of the software such as how to add information on a detail sheet, sample size chart and grading chart. The grading chart indicates the sizes and measurements of a garment (arm hole, neckline, CB, CF measurements etc.). The brand work with a UK size 10 (S). From this size, the factories have to either add or subtract measurements from the size S to create appropriate fittings for each size:
XXS, XS: Minus measurements from S
M, L, XL, XXL : Add measurements from S
Other tasks have made me become familiar with components within the production process, which I have mentioned in previous posts. For example, whenever I look at a specific garment or sketches from particular seasons, I see numbers and codes in my head. Each garment from the beginning to the end of the production process receives numbers, that keep track of them and what type they are. They are then archived in files digitally and hard copy. First, a garment is given a Base Number, to indicate the pattern pieces and what type of garment it is. Then it is given a Style Number to indicate what style it is from that Base Number (different color for example). Sometimes, old patterns from other seasons have been re-used. This garment will then have an AS number.
My tasks usually aren’t strenuous and don’t require significant physical demand. However on Wednesday, this wasn’t the case… I was required to help out loading boxes and giant card board rolls into a truck. The boxes weren’t so bad but the rolls were WAY heavier than they looked! (Work out completed that day). Seriously, I couldn’t imagine how heavy those rolls would have been if they still had paper on them!
On the bright side, I later on during the week got to dig through clothes that are going to be at the upcoming 4th of July Sample Sale (YES ANOTHER ONE), and put them aside and to buy them on that day.
While talking to people during my time here, Ive managed to gain useful and most definitely valuable fashion industry advice and facts. Who’s worked where, who to keep in touch with, what happened to so and so, what to expect after graduating etc. From all these different stories, Ive learned some things that University doesn’t really prepare you for or even tell you..
For example, Ive been told that Highstreet brands seem to have standard 9am- 5 or 6pm working hours and usually stick to that (Im working in Highstreet btw). However in Luxury/Designer brands, employees are expected to work overtime (little or even unpaid). This is because multinational corporate Highstreet brands are bigger and produce clothing per season, whereas the Designer/ Ready-to-Wear market produce garments per collection.
At the moment, I am torn with the idea of either becoming a Designer or a Pattern Cutter. Some interesting pattern cutting facts include that companies have basic blocs and set measurements where the Pattern Cutter manipulates patterns and develops them accordantly. I have also been told that it is harder to switch from Pattern Cutting over to Design. This is something I really need to learn more/think about…
One of the most valuable things I have learned is the importance of networking. Whether its getting to know industry professional or even fellow students and recent graduates, who you have as contacts, could really make a difference in your career life.
On Friday after work, I decided to stop by this pop up store near by. The shop was called Monochrome Collective. It was founded by recent graduates from West London College ,showcasing and even selling their garments from their final year collection. I ended up talking to a few of the designers about their work and really liked their stuff! (My advice: make friends and get to know as many people as you can in the creative world). The Students had a choice of either doing an all black or all white collection but each designer added specific design details to make the garments stand out. Check out what they do: http://www.monochrome-collective.com/
Having gained the insight within this industry that I have so far has made me realised that I have a long way to go, However I believe that the things I have learned from others and myself will prepare me in the future especially when I graduate in a year when I will be swimming in the great deep giant pool competing and searching for a paid Job in Fashion.
On that note, I leave you readers with an appropriate soundtrack to sum up this post: