WHAT I LEARNT AS A FASHION DESIGN INTERN


Being an intern in any field can be tough. Whether you’re working for a super rewarding, creative company or you’re stuck doing coffee runs for months; internships all come with challenges. The fashion industry is notoriously tough to crack, so here’s what I learned.

1. BEHIND EVERY PRODUCT IS A REAL PERSON  


As basic as this sounds, its easy to get sucked into the aesthetic of a brand and expect a white-walled studio with its own coffee station and a happy-go-lucky vibe. It depends on the company you intern with, and the role you applied for, but often you’ll end up in a cramped studio/office with a handful of people that work really, really hard. Often the cooler, up-and-coming brands have a lot less money than you imagine, and you’ll end up doing many of the things you assumed happened elsewhere. 

2. INTERNING WITH SMALLER COMPANIES IS A REALLY GOOD IDEA


A vital lesson to learn: don’t assume the ‘best’ internships are with the ‘best’ fashion brands. If you’re interested in setting up on your own one day, aim to intern for a successful start-up. You’ll be given more responsibility because the team will be smaller. You won’t be on coffee duty for six months, you’ll be on doing-important-things duty, because you are a vital asset to the team. In larger companies, often interns are put into one department and have smaller roles. Unfortunately, sometimes this includes photocopying and getting coffee. That’s not to say you’ll never have to do a shitty job when working for a smaller brand, or that you won’t have a great time interning for a bigger brand. It simply depends whether experience is what you want, or a big brand on your CV.

3. MISTAKES HAPPEN - WHAT MATTERS IS HOW YOU HANDLE THEM


During my first internship, I was working for an amazing British designer; we were prepping for London Fashion Week and finishing samples to be shipped to high-end stores. It was a stressful month, and I scorched a pair of embellished trousers when I was pressing them. It was super visible and I knew it was an expensive mistake. I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest and was Googling things like “how to un-burn fabric”, “how to wash burn marks out”, “cheap one way flights” etc. but I gave myself a pep talk and instead of trying to hide it, I told my boss and explained what had happened. I apologized, we came up with a solution and we moved on. Today, she pays me to digitize her prints.

4. STAY UNTIL THE JOB'S DONE


Maybe the lesson I learnt most quickly. You might have signed up for a 9am – 6pm job, but expect to work late, often. Fashion is a tough industry and there will be plenty of people willing to stay if you aren’t. Leaving before the job’s done without offering to stay and finish it is the quickest way to lose respect from your boss. I’ll never forget working through the night with another intern whilst our boss slept on a chair in between us the night before the show. It’s part of the job, and unfortunately if you can’t be bothered, someone else can.

5. NETWORKING IS VITAL


One of the best things about interning is that you’re exposed to a ton of people that already work in the industry. If you build good relationships with these connections you might be able to use them for yourself one day. Take a note of PR/press contacts, manufacturers and any reliable assets. I was offered another internship from mingling with people. Be professional and friendly with everyone you meet and it will take you far.