Fashion Business Resources

In any industry, possessing a depth of knowledge about the key companies, individuals and issues is essential to success. Fashion is no different. While you no doubt have a stack of fashion magazines at home and surf the Web constantly to check out the latest style blogs, employers will expect you to have a deeper understanding of how the industry works. For example, it’s not uncommon for a potential employer to quiz candidates on their favorite business resources during an interview. So it’s a good idea to develop the habit of staying abreast of the latest news. Below, we’ve assembled some influential resources to get you started:

Women’s Wear Daily—an industry publication covering all aspects of fashion, including trends, sourcing, retail, wholesale and consumer behavior. Most content is available by subscription only, but it’s possible that your school or employer will receive the print version or have access to it online. If not, subscribe to the free e-mail newsletter, which lists each day’s headlines. Stories like “Retailers Key in on the Most Bankable Season” provide insight into a who’s who in the industry.

The Business of Fashion—provides a few original features but primarily aggregates stories about the global fashion industry from a wide range of news media (e.g. Forbes, Reuters, the International Herald Tribune). Subscribe to the daily newsletter; if you’re pressed for time in the morning, it’s a great, quick cheat sheet. For example, a recent original story spotlights how merging editorial and commerce—think Net-a-Porter—is changing our idea of content.

The Wall Street Journal—regularly covers fashion, industry and retail trends in its Life & Culture section. Coverage includes stories on how to wear the latest styles, how changes in society impact how we dress, emerging and established designers and emerging markets. In “Wanted: a Second Chance,” the paper takes a look at what it’s like to gain success in the fashion industry, lose it and try again.

As a companion to the paper, the Wall Street Journal runs the Heard on the Runway blog, which primarily focuses on reviews of the major fashion shows each season.

The New York Timesthrough its Fashion & Style pages, the Times has positioned itself as a leader in industry coverage. In addition to profiles and issue-related topics, the paper publishes street style photos from around New York and the world. The story “Nurturing by a Style Angel” is a good example of the paper’s business reporting, which in this case looks at one way designers receive financing for their lines.

Additionally, the Times runs the On the Runway blog, which features shorter pieces from well-known editors like Cathy Horyn. A recent post covered the latest on the John Galliano saga.

Other sources:

The following papers offer additional in-depth fashion coverage:

After studying a number of these resources, you’ll begin to understand how the industry works. In addition, it’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts for any companies you’re interested in in order to stay current on the latest news for each.

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Marketing on the Web with ModCloth.com

Online retailer ModCloth.com is really dialed into its customer and active on social media sites for sales and awareness. Here, founder Susan Gregg Koger discusses the retailer’s buying strategy; how it creates a community among shoppers; the store’s crowdsourcing efforts, including “be the buyer” chats on Twitter as well as “be the writer” competitions to name their products; and marketing through outreach to the blogging community. Watch to pick up tips on how progressive companies are using online tools to boost social shopping.

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Maximizing Your Internship Experience

Many of you are probably starting to think about your summer internships and a few of you may already have one lined up. Wherever you end up, it’s possible the company will be teeming with bright, excited summer help. So you’ll have to be at your best to stand out. To help you outshine your coworkers, we’ve compiled a list of articles with some helpful tips.

Style Republic has a great article on Interning in Fashion, and almost all of the tips apply to all majors!

Top 10 Tips for Interns is exactly how it sounds, short, sweet and full of useful information.

This post from The Awl has some great perspectives on those truly resourceful students who combine internships and part time work during the summer.

12 Tips for An Advertising Intern is another great piece that applies to all majors (even if you don’t want to work in advertising.) My favorite part is the starting line: “I once read that an internship is a job interview that lasts all summer. You’re constantly being evaluated and the end goal is (hopefully) a job offer.” 

Interning: Preparing for a Smooth Transition has some great advice that I’ve never seen anywhere else, especially about the start date.

And finally, DKNY PR Girl shares her insights on how to make the most of your experience in Intern Networking 101.

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A Discussion with Derek Lam and Jenna Lyons

For the Fashion Campus NYC class of 2011, here’s a bit more from our great keynote speaker, Derek Lam, along with his classmate Jenna Lyons of J. Crew. In this video, “A Conversation with Derek Lam and Jenna Lyons,” the two designers discuss how they got into fashion, the importance of networking and building relationships with fellow students while still in school and their the creative processes.

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Prepping for Virtual Interviews

There are many different ways to interview now, but interviewing via phone and video is more and more common.

Phone Screens and Interviews

There are many good articles on phone screens. A phone screen is a preliminary interview, which takes place before a company brings you in for a formal interview. It means your resume is good, but they aren’t quite sure. Sometimes these are scheduled, but sometimes the person will call you out of the blue. You might even call to inquire about a position and find yourself in the middle of a phone screen.

An phone interview means that they schedule a time and consider this to be an actual interview. There is really not a huge difference between a phone interview and a phone screen. As the person being interviewed, you should treat both very seriously.

Here are some tips for phone screens and interviews:

1. Make sure you’re on a phone with good reception and very little noise around you. Yes, this can often be difficult, but having an interview where you’re constantly screaming “what?!” because you’re at an outdoor cafe and trucks keep passing will not endear you to the person on the other end of the line.

2. Think about the points you’d like to make before you start talking. You should always have some idea of what you’d like to say, including your selling points. However, don’t be afraid to stray from these points. For instance, you might tell an anecdote that makes something on your resume seem much more important.

3. Answer the questions clearly and thoughtfully. Since the person on the other end doesn’t have any visual context, they focus on what you’re saying. This is good, since the quality of your ideas, answers and skills will come through. However if you’re nervous, it may make you seem disinterested. If you’re nervous, remember to pause and take breaths. Every question is not a race to see how quickly you can answer it. It’s ok to pause, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and then answer.

Video Interviews

While video and Skype interviews aren’t yet as common as phone screens, they’re becoming more and more prevalent. There is also a lot of advice out there about video interviews. As with phone interviews, if you’re the person being interviewed, you want to make sure that you are treating this as seriously as you would if it were an in-person interview.

Here are some tips to help you deal:

1. Look behind you. Love that bright pink moose head that you found on the side of the road: think it might help to show off your quirky side? Most likely your interviewer will find it distracting, as will clutter, bright lights and no lights at all. Make sure your background is as clear and calm as possible because that’s what the interviewer will see. Also, make sure you’re the main focal point in the center of the screen and that you’re well lit.

2. Look directly at the camera whenever possible. Yes it is always easy for you to look at the person who is speaking, but you also want to convey (as much as possible) that you’re making eye contact.

3. Don’t type notes. It may seem like you’re extra prepared, but since they can’t see what you’re writing, it just looks like you’re typing to someone else. If you think it’s appropriate, go old school and write it down on a sheet of paper. That way it doesn’t seem like you’re chatting with someone else while the interview is going on.

In the end, it’s important to remember that phone screens, phone interviews and phone video interviews should all be taken as seriously as in-person interviews.

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Understanding the Product Lifecycle

Bringing collections from concept to delivery requires the work of many different people and departments. The following explains some of the key steps involved in bringing a line to market. By Katherine Lanigan, career advisor at Parsons 

 

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Believe You Can Paint Your Own Future!

By Dayna Vasilik

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

Oh, the dreaded, overwhelming question many college students are asked. I am constantly asked this mind-boggling question from my family, friends and professors.  Therefore, naturally I had a little fun when I turned the tables on Daniel Strassburger, senior director of marketing and communications, Ralph Lauren Home at Polo Ralph Lauren.

I asked Strassburger if he envisioned pursuing the career he has today during his college years.  He admitted, like many of us, that he didn’t exactly have a set plan or vision of what he wanted to do.   Strassburger chose to get an extensive education, earning his BA studying Communication Arts at University of Wisconsin Madison and an AAS degree in Fashion Marketing at Parsons School of Design.  During his time at Parsons, he realized he had a special creative talent; however, he admits he wasn’t interested in nor fit to be a fashion designer.

Strassburger feels there are many people who are talented and passionate about something but don’t know how to apply it. He is still truly grateful for the help and attention Parsons’ Career Services gave him by turning him in the direction that best suited him and giving him guidance as to where he could find an outlet to apply his unique creativity.

With his education as a base, Strassburger also sought out internships, which included Seventh House PR, Kenneth Cole Urban Designs Department, and Donna Karen, which lead to employment the company’s marketing department where he then progressed to become their global marketing manager.

“You learn and develop a better understanding of your career goals, likes and dislikes during an internship,” he said, adding one comment that really struck home. “We all have doubts and fears when starting something new, but life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” he said. “The more internship experience you have, the more confident and well-rounded you become.  You eventually begin to believe in yourself and therefore, others believe in you too.”

“Never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and lead the way,” he continued. “You also have to be prepared to think on your feet, make decisions and show leadership in your internships because you never know if they could lead into a career.”

At Ralph Lauren Home, some of Strassburger’s many responsibilities focus on showcasing the furniture, paint and lighting in ad campaigns. In addition, he is currently working on developing and making improvements to the website content, including creating videos for the Ralph Lauren website and reshooting their paint images.  He revealed how they are working on creating YouTube videos to give their audience more visuals when selecting Ralph Lauren paint.  Strassburger suggests that the use of digital media, social media and blogging today is taking over and will change the fashion business.

After speaking with Daniel, his advice holds true that the bottom line when marketing yourself to achieve the career of your dreams is to always be versatile and keep up to date with technology while creating avenues in which you can stand out from your peers. Let’s face it, the world is filled with talented people, but it is up to each one of us to be the show stopper on the runway of our chosen career path!

Dayna Vasilik is currently a senior pursuing a BA in Communications/Advertising with a minor in Fashion at Marist College. She has interned for The Hampton Models, Accessories Magazine, and College Fashionista. While writing columns for The Circle, the school newspaper, Dayna believes writing with a little whit and sense of humor is essential. She posts on her blog regularly hoping to entertain readers!

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Behind the Scenes with an Email Marketing Manager

By Ashley Paintsil 

Whitney Howell has been living in New York for 10 years and is the email marketing manager at Barneys New York. Before securing her job at Barneys, Howell was an intern at Esquire magazine as a market assistant and at Michael Kors in the wholesale department. The 28-year-old says the key to being a successful email marketing manager is having an eye for detail, a comfort level with numbers and creativity. Howell says she loves fashion because it has been a stepping stone to exploring other personal pursuits, copy writing and design.

FCN: What skills did you learn while you were earning your Bachelors of Business Administration in Design Management at Parsons?

WH: I had a very nice foundation of core business classes that you would get at any other type of university. What was unique in terms of Parsons, is that we actually were able to steer our courses along whatever design field we wanted to enter so I did a lot of trend forecasting and fashion product development and part of that also included management, working with teams and trend analysis.

FCN: What role did internships play in getting your job and what were the most important things you learned there?

WH: Internships are very important, and you should have at least two on your plate that are different. I learned about the publishing industry at Esquire and at Michael Kors I learned how a showroom operates.

Working in the showrooms with the sales team, I got an understanding of what happens after the fashion show is done. It was very crucial in seeing what happens for the buyers when they come to a showroom appointment, when they’re selecting what merchandise goes into their stores, whether it’s a small retailer that’s independently owned or a larger store like Bergdorf or Bloomingdales.

[At Esquire,] working with a publisher I learned a lot of office management skills, which I think is the most important thing and sometimes overlooked. When people are in school, it’s not a skill that they teach. You really do have to acquire it through your internships or part-time jobs, but I don’t think anyone should dismiss the importance of knowing how to fax, the proper way to answer a telephone, transfer calls, as well as learning to do expenses, because those basic office management skills are very handy and actually appreciated when you do move along in your career. It just shows that you’re confident to be in the workplace.

FCN: What exactly does an email marketing manager do?

WH: You oversee the production calendar, oversee what messages go out on a particular day to our subscriber list, decide which customers receive those emails— which we refer to as customer segmentation—and then the final part would be reporting and budgeting to figure out how well we are doing in terms of customer responses and sales.

FCN: What can be the most tedious part of your day-to-day activities?

WH: Making sure that the marketing messages are set up accurately, which deals with a lot of HTML. I’m on the backend managing the set up and production of the actual campaigns that deploy. You want to try to make sure it’s as flawless in execution as possible.

FCN: What’s the most creative thing about your job?

WH: Working with the merchants or the buying team to decide what products are placed. Once you have the products, you want to generate a marketing message around them. So that’s where a lot of the creativity comes in. You often need to be able to understand how to take a product and present it to your copywriter to position the product to get people to buy it. Sometimes I write the copy for our campaigns. I really enjoy the copywriting aspect and working with my designers. It’s fun. You’re making a little package each time.

FCN: What does the analytical side of your work entail?

WH: My job is analytical in terms of looking at the numbers and what’s a success or what’s a failure. I look at every campaign that deploys during the span of a business week. If you’re featuring a pair of shoes from a particular brand, you’re going to look at how well that brand’s sales were for shoes for the week prior and the week that you actually launch the email so you have a benchmark. In terms of understanding success for an email program, it’s always about the revenue for the week so we work with a lot of business counterparts in the company to always drive traffic and awareness to the website.

FCN: What kind of skills would you need to have to do this job effectively?

WH: An eye for detail, a sense for numbers (your basic arithmetic does come into play) and strong knowledge of Excel. Have a good eye for design in terms of what looks good online. Look at other companies constantly. Understand how buyers choose for their store. You want to have an eye for layouts. You need to be incredibly collaborative and work with other people. You have to be open to getting guidance and support and exchanging ideas.

FCN: What do you love most about your job?

WH: It’s an opportunity to constantly be creative, and it’s a unique opportunity to oversee a platform for a large retailer and help develop their brand voice.

FCN: What suggestions do you have for people who want to get their foot in the door?

WH: I would say intern as much as possible, take a part-time job just to get some skills in terms of what it feels like to actually work. Attend networking events. Create a LinkedIn account. If people have listed on their LinkedIn account that they’re open to inquiries, then by all means email that person who works at a company that you would love to work for and ask them if they would spare 15 minutes for a phone call or do an email exchange with you. And always be nice, because you don’t know who’s who in the industry. Also be incredibly mindful of what you say about brands and individual people in the industry online because that could come back to haunt you when you’re looking for a job.

Ashley Paintsil is a junior fashion merchandising major at the University of Delaware, with minors in entrepreneurship and journalism. She hopes one day to become a fashion editor at a major fashion magazine. You can see more of her work on her blog

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The First Annual Fashion Campus NYC

Parsons The New School for Design and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) hosted the first Fashion Campus NYC, a weekend-long, career-building and networking event to help talented students pursue fashion in New York City on July 15th and 16th, 2011. Nearly 200 interns from more than 90 universities and 150 companies attended the event, as well as fashion industry representatives from more than 25 New York-based companies, including Aeropostale, Gilt Groupe, Lord & Taylor, Calvin Klein and Macy’s. A highlight of the event was a talk with Parsons alumnus Derek Lam.

Fashion Campus NYC is one of a series of initiatives that resulted from Mayor Bloomberg’s FashionNYC2020 plan to sustain and grow the fashion industry in New York. At the event, NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky also announced that Parsons was selected to develop and implement a second initiative, Fashion Draft NYC. Slated to take place this fall, a select group of students from across the world will be brought to the city to network and interview with top fashion executives with a chance to earn full-time, management-track positions within one of the participating New York-based companies.

“With nearly 200 attendees, Fashion Campus NYC represents a strong opening of our FashionNYC2020 initiatives, designed to provide the industry’s future leaders with an opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s shining stars,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. “We are also very excited to be partnering with Parsons for another of our FashionNYC2020 initiatives, Fashion Draft NYC, which will identify the best talent from around the globe and seek to recruit them for fashion careers right here in New York City, the fashion capital of the world.”

At the event, students participated in “Backstage Pass,” a panel discussion with industry professionals moderated by Simon Collins, the Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons. Panelists represented all facets of the business side of the industry, including product management, merchandising, marketing, and buying. “A Tailored Approach” consisted of a series of career services breakout sessions organized in collaboration with LIM College. In addition, the event featured a networking brunch with leading fashion companies and a conversation with Derek Lam.

“The design industries—including fashion—represent one of the key economic engines of New York City,” said Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers, who was represented at the event by Dean Collins. “Parsons has played an important role over the last century in attracting and sustaining the top creative talent here in New York City, and we place a great value in this new partnership with NYCEDC to help the City continue to grow its economy in this area.”

The fashion industry employs 165,000 people, accounting for 5.5 percent of the City’s workforce, and generates nearly $2 billion in tax revenue annually. In addition, the City is home to one of the world’s largest wholesale fashion markets, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year to its trade shows, showrooms and retail stores. Fashion Campus NYC is one of six initiatives resulting from FashionNYC2020. These initiatives address the industry’s challenges in two ways: by further positioning the City as a hub of innovation for emerging designers as well as specialty and multi-channel retail, and by attracting the next generation of design, management and merchant talent. For more information about Fashion Campus NYC, visit http://fashioncampusnyc.com. To receive updates about Fashion Draft NYC, “like” the Fashion Draft page on Facebook.

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