Why the Fashion Industry Isn’t Frivolous

image courtesy of: e.fastmoney.net

by: Nicole Allen

Ever since I was 10, I knew I wanted to work in fashion. I would buy sketch paper from the local Michael’s and sketch some (very poor) designs. I would flip through the pages of Seventeen and Teen Vogue and hang the advertisements of Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Chanel over my walls. While my friends would buy and wear clothing from Aeropostale and Limited Too, I would create my own clothing, to my mother’s disapproval. I was clearly fashion obsessed. However, the obsession was short lived.

By the time I was a junior in high school I still enjoyed fashion and magazines, but I no longer wanted to pursue a career in fashion. By this time, I already saw “The Devil Wears Prada” and the star of the movie, an assistant to the editor in chief named Andy, had a pretty miserable life. However, Andy and I both had one thing in common at the time; we both wanted to be writers. I decided go to Mount Saint Mary College after high school to pursue a degree in journalism. I was certain this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was completely wrong.

After my first year of college, writing became such a chore to me. It’s not that I did not like to write. I still do, it’s just I couldn’t see myself doing that every day for the rest of my life. By the first semester of sophomore year, I knew I needed to change something. A friend of mine suggested that I’d try public relations because; almost all companies use PR, there is still some writing, but not a lot and you can do it virtually anywhere in the country. Since public relations was so closely linked to journalism, I decided to double major.

Once I decided I wanted to do public relations, I wanted to actually experience it, so I started to apply to internships. I applied virtually everywhere, but I could not find anyone who wanted to hire me. My aunt knew I was struggling and told me she knew a recruiter at Tommy Hilfiger who could probably help me find something. Once I talked to the recruiter, I was able to get an interview. When I got news that I got the internship, I was thrilled. I spent my spring semester of my sophomore year in a department that wasn’t public relations, but that was fine, because I realized then that I wanted to do fashion. Even though I wasn’t in the department I wanted to be in, I loved coming into my internship every day. Just being there made me happier, because I finally found what I was truly passionate about.

When people asked me, “What do you want to do with public relations?” I would happily and confidently reply, “Fashion PR.” However, I would always get a look. Sometimes it would be an eyebrow raise or pursed lips, but it all meant the same thing — they clearly didn’t approve of my newfound career path and thought I was foolish. At first, I tried brushing it off.

Over the next few years at school, I got fashion public relations experience through two different internships. I was able to maintain good grades and be active in clubs at school, but I still would get that look from people when I told them I wanted to pursue a career in fashion. It was only a few months ago when someone told me to my face that fashion “was a little silly.” Yes, I understand there are a lot harder professions out there than ones you can find in the fashion industry; however, that doesn’t give anyone the right to call it silly.

The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business; people work nonstop in this fast-paced environment. The backbone of the industry, designers, crank out four seasons of clothing a year — sometimes even more than that if they design for multiple houses or do couture. Marketing and advertising are constantly kept busy with campaigns and branding efforts, while the public relations team is dealing hands on with the product and planning events. This industry is not frivolous, and these jobs are a far cry from easy. However, designers design gorgeous collections, marketing and advertising showcase the hottest celebrities and campaigns and the public relations teams rally every September and February to face fashion week. Do you know why? Because they love their jobs.

So the next time you think fashion is frivolous, just a little reminder — since I don’t see a lot of naked people walking around — I guess this industry is just as important to you as it is to me.