A Fashion Internship I
Anyway, this summer quite unexpectedly I found myself doing yet another fashion internship at the regional office of a well known french brand, working with communications, retail and wholesale. Basically the other side to what I was doing last year. Surprisingly the Asia Pacific office of this french brand is only managed by 6 girls, albeit very amazing ones, in a little office they affectionately call the "shoebox." But despite the small scale, so many things were going on at once that I don't even know where to start!
Communications: They deal with everything that has to do with the public: advertisements, events and the press. They are responsible for putting advertisements in magazines, billboards, renovating stores and even on bus stops, making sure that everything perfectly represents the brand. Unaligned posters and chopped off products are not tolerated. They also organise and oversee events all over Asia, squeezing their collective creative juices together to create a smashing event and ensuring that all goes smoothly. They keep impeccable relationships with the press, lending out press samples to be shot and all. (Hence a charming personality and a wide network of friends is a major plus) In addition, they keep records of magazine appearances their products make and calculate the advertising value of it. This involves many hours pouring over fashion magazines, playing spot wally in the sea of fashion. I did a LOT of this, and believe me- not as fun as it looks. I developed a temporary fash-mag-phobia afterwards. Communications is definitely a very all around interactive job.
Retail: This Involved the management of the local stores. They are responsible for buying clothes in Paris for the local stores (hence they need to know their customers and have good taste), keeping track of what is bought, delivered and sold (i.e. lots of cross checking of data involved-trust me, they are eye blurring) and analysing what works in each location for future buying reference. On top of all this, they are also responsible for the operation of the stores, hiring people, customer relations and the construction of new stores. And when dealing with customers, a LOT of patience is required. I once witnessed a 1 hour long tirade from a customer dealt with patience and virtue. Oh and they also have to keep up with the prices of competitors, which involves a lot of cold calling and ones alter ego (which I have perfected). A very on the market job.
Wholesale: Before the clothes get to the customers, they are first wholesaled directly from the brand headquarters to various outlets. These outlets include the brand's stores, department stores and mix brand outlets. Wholesalers are responsible for this selling in between. These sellings take part in the Paris showroom or they may have samples of the clothes shipped to their location and have their own regional showroom. The selling process may take as short as 2 hours to as long as 6 hours depending on the buyers of each stores- some buyers can be very particular and thorough. Other times, they field emails from clients on topics such as delivery and prices etc, do market walk throughs with clients to see how their products are selling and plan for expansions.
Wow, that was very long. So you see, a LOT is involved before clothes make it to the store even after it has been made. But overall, fashion merchandising is very similar to other forms of merchandising, all the work involved are essentially the same, except one is dealing with fashion instead- which I guess is a whole lot funner if one likes to look at pretty things!