If you saw me on a daily basis, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I studied or work in fashion.
I live in sweatshirts, jeans, and sneakers. My hairstyle consists of a messy bun away from my face. I don’t care to buy into trends. I consider my style to be a comfy, casual, in which if I was ever to encounter Anna Wintour, she would probably look me up and down without a word.
For a lack of a better explanation, I don’t fit the stereotype. The reality is that not many of us do.
Starting off as a psychology major in undergrad and transferring to fashion merchandising during my sophomore year was the start of a journey I never thought it would take me on. I had only hoped for the best during a mid-college crisis and hoped it turned into where I am heading.
I reminisce about this 6–7 years later because a few days ago, I was conversing with someone on the topic of careers who had asked me a simple question. “Why fashion?” The question ruminated in my mind. I really have no childhood story of going gaga over designer clothing and thought this was what I intended to do.
So then why fashion? I’ll start with the side that makes the most sense. Because I needed creativity in my life mixed with something that would give me financial stability. It wasn’t until after I studied it that I realized the true answer to this question was as simple as this: because the business of fashion is art.
It’s true that I have no glorious childhood story, but I did have hobbies that I continuously came back to and these dots weren’t connected until I grew older. Art was always my favorite subject, to the point that I looked into majoring in it. If you looked through my cupboard from 15 years ago, and even today, nothing has really changed because you’ll still find a plethora of the finest pens, brushes, and markers with a stack of unopened journals. This love of art manifests into many aspects of my life, I just chose the niche of fashion to be the one I’d want to make my career.
Everyone outside looking in considers fashion to be a constantly glamorous world. The ones who’ve studied and work in the midst of it can only tell you that it’s so much more than that. Part of this is my fault, I only like to highlight the coolest parts of my life — the time I went to Milan Fashion Week, the study abroad trips to designer’s and big companies, the PR packages I send to celebrities. I never highlighted that I broke down during my Master’s midterm from the built-up challenges, that I constantly lack creativity in my daily life I so long for, that I’ve just started out in a somewhat fashion-related career after years of studying it. We love to boast about the good things, it’s human tendency.
Due to the judgments society has from telling someone that you’re in the fashion industry, it’s important to be transparent. I can tell you all the things that fashion is not.
It’s not just design. (Side note: if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I design things, I wouldn’t need a job.)
It’s not buying the newest designer handbag that comes out or the amount of designer items you have.
It’s not always working for the big, luxury corporations that plague the headlines. Even if you do, I can bet you that it’s not as glamorous as you’d think.
It’s definitely not knocking off an entire collection from artists and claiming it to be your own. (My number one pet peeve, say no counterfeit goods and stolen artwork please.)
You only see a mere surface of the industry on the red carpet.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I believe fashion is: groundbreaking art, sustainable solutions, and marketing innovations.
As I’ve grown into this — this world of fashion which I have barely stepped foot into — I’ve realized my love of art has exceeded beyond fashion. It’s spread into graphic design, styling, brand development, and the desire to continue to pile on my knowledge of how running a fashion business truly works.
What gives me goosebumps is reading about the breakthrough silhouettes that took place before I was alive, that it took a designer an ‘x’ amount of time to hand sew crystals on that dress, or that moment I stepped into a small New York studio who made hats using the most fascinating hand blocking technique. What makes me think unconventionally is seeing the technology surrounding fashion, the logistical systems that brands implement to make operations smoother, brand strategies that are updated as consumers change their style, seeing how a new creative designer carries on the legacy of a brand, the inception of a product, or the way trend forecasters gather inspiration to look 2+ years into the future.
I’m not where I want to be in my career yet and I am perfectly okay with this, because I wouldn’t trade any of my undergrad and graduate studies, any of my unpaid internships, nor any of my work experience for the knowledge I’ve gained to be able to realize why I continuously choose and chase to grow in this path. If fashion was just about the physical end product, this wouldn’t be my choice of industry.