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.

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.

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.

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.

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!