Thursday, September 22, 2011

Diary of a fashion intern - Day 2 "To Market, To Market"

So having survived my first day I was feeling a bit more comfortable heading into work on Monday. For my second day I decided to go with a more casual look - red jeans and a denim shirt.. casual yet has character, cant go wrong really!

We were asked to get there by 7.30 am, I hadn't been to work that early since… well since I moved to London actually! 

When I got to the showroom that morning I, for the first time in my life, realised what visual merchandising actually meant. The night before we left the clothes hanging on the rails in random order which seemed normal… Our visual merchandiser stayed in the showroom until some ungodly hour to make it look… sellable. It was actually amazing how arranging clothes in various colour combinations made such a difference. 

Anywho… so I get to the showroom that morning to find a bunch of interns having breakfast… dressed in all black with full make-up and hair done. Awkward. I guess my red jeans are no longer a 'cant go wrong' item. I enter a mild state of panic. They all turn around, see my get-up and one of them draws a long 'I'm gueeeesssing no one told you to wear black…" The showroom manager enters, looks me up and down, realises that he forgot to tell me to wear black, quietly walks off [im pretty sure he may have had a tiny heart attack when he saw my bright red jeans in the sea of "all-black" interns]. Im perspiring. A lot. It's 8am so none of the stores are open to go and buy a quick change of outfit. The first appointment is at 9am. I am iiiiinnnn trouble. 

I am sent to photocopy a bunch of stuff - obviously to get me out of sight before the first customer gets here and before the 'head honcho' sees me.

I'm photocopying stuff and literally counting down minutes until 9am when the stores open. Unfortunately the closest store was Next which seemed to stock strictly the ugliest clothes (they should've put a sign up - Normal Clothes Not Allowed). I end up in an ugly black jersey dress (that ugly cheap black colour.. you know what im talking about), which is possibly a size or 2 too big. I make a mental note to burn it when today is over.

Head back to the showroom and see the manager breath a sigh of relief. Crisis averted. Then the craziness starts. The buyers start arriving one by one. There are four models in the backroom trying on clothes and modelling it for the buyers. The interns are running around like crazy. All of them red in the face… by this stage we need to know and remember if not all then a lot of the pattern names and style names of this season's collection. 

As an intern you are expected to do whatever is required to ensure the smooth running of the showroom - dress the models, greet the clients, make coffee, do a mountain of photocopying, get the clothes requested by the sales team, chat to the buyers and make them feel warm and fuzzy and most importantly remember the order that the clothes, bags and shoes were in this morning (as the visual merchandiser intended it to look). 

After a quick lunch break we are all back on the floor. By night time you literally can't feel your feet. Thankfully coffee is in unlimited supply so everyone is on a constant caffeine buzz. Throughout the day interns rotate in their duties. I am now following a girl from the sales team around. She is showing the new collection to a buyer, explaining the inspiration and the stories behind the collection. I am carrying a tonne of clothes to and from the change room every 2 minutes. My favourite part is putting outfits together - a member of the sales team passes you an item of clothing (like a shirt or a top) and you have to find bottoms, jackets etc to form a presentable and cool outfit in the right colour scheme. And you have about 30 seconds to pull the outfit together and drop it at the change rooms - I feel like I'm in an episode of America's Next Top Model (you know the ones where they need to demonstrate their personal style?! except obviously i'm not a model… obviously).

In between appointments I'm running to the backroom to have a quick coffee. Everyone only drinks espressos because you don't have time for a normal cup of coffee. Then back on the floor to listen (for the 50th time) the story about the inspiration behind the collection. Every time a new appointment starts the sales guys look like this is the first time they've ever told the story - full of excitement, big smile, sky-high heels. The buyers don't need to know that most of them haven't had a chance to eat lunch and have had about 30 cups of coffee and take their heels off for 2 minutes in between appointments. You can hear snippets of Italian, Spanish and French being spoken around the room, the whole team including the interns is bilingual (trilingual in some cases) so everyone is comfortably switching between languages.     

The day ends around 10pm and we literally crawl out of the showroom. Everyone is excited because we don't start until 8am tomorrow… extra half an hour of sleep! Yay! : /

We have another 3 weeks of this between London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks. Oh. My.God.

To be continued… xx

p.s. you can read the Russian version on Look At Me