Gorgeous people, spectacular shows, opulent outfits, stylish shoes and fun parties tend to come to mind when the fashion industry is recollected in collective consciousness, but behind the scenes is a different story to say the least. Countless people work tirelessly to sustain this glitzy and fabulous illusion, scratching the surface even a bit leads one to lose the glossy goggles that the fashion industry would like us to perceive it through.
The Business of Fashion has gained a lot of mileage domestically in the recent past. People hastily rushing into the business of setting up fashion houses, attracted by the perceived glamour and fun that is associated with the fashion industry. There are wonderful fairy tale stories of designers graduating from Central Saint Martin’s, London School of Fashion or Parsons and then going off to soak in the spotlight.
Studying fashion can perhaps be as tricky as pursuing medicine or engineering where one has to focus on both the theoretical and practical aspect of the field, which includes studying the history of fashion over the ages, knowing over 100 embroidery techniques, fabric sourcing, dying and printing, trend forecasting, sketching, pattern cutting, draping, stitching and finally styling. Everyone who enters the business needs to know it all despite the fact that fashion houses and firms are (like nearly any other corporate) role-based. Success in the fashion biz’ comes from a combine of possessing all of the above plus retailing smartly and managing accounts effectively.
In short, a massive amount of cross-functional collaboration is behind the trendy clothes boutiques. The company has design, sampling, production, sales, and retail teams that join forces to make up a fashion star a success. Above all, successful businesses in every field diligently aspire to carving an identity for themselves to be equated by the consumers on a deeper level. The design team creates the design and detailing of the clothes. The sampling team does the initial construction of the design to check if the look and fit is right, followed by finishing and steaming. The production team ensures that the designs are properly executed and delivered to customers. The sales team is responsible for presenting the garments to the customers. The retail team is responsible for running multiple stores and the website. The funny thing about behind-the-scenes fashion jobs is the numerous tasks that one is responsible for changes on a day-to-day basis. The design team has to be involved in designing, sampling, costing. The merchandisers have to be involved in retailing and costing, etc.
There is a lot of hard work involved for everyone at every level in the fashion world. Fashion moves in a cycle and what goes up must come down. It’s a brutal and backstabbing industry where no one part of the industry is a well wisher and there to help you, entry to the next level often proves challenging. To survive here, one has to be completely independent and really have a passion for fashion and have the grit required to continue on despite numerous setbacks he or she may face. At the end of the day, profits and keeping up with trends should come second to the clothes themselves and the artistic influences they inspire. In the words of Kenneth Cole- “Be clothes-minded.”