The film The Devil Wears Prada, contains one of the most important lessons for any new college graduate about to toss their cap in the air with hope that it lands somewhere in the world of Fashion. Miranda Priestly, editor of Runway Magazine, gives Andy, the lowly assistant, a stern example of the chain of command in the industry- the story of how one simple blue sweater found in a bargain bin originated years before in the imagination of a renowned luxury designer. Her sweater didn’t just “appear” there, tossed into stores across the country without a second thought. That’s where I come in.
For the past year I have been working for The Jones Group, the overarching parent company behind popular brands like Jones New York, Nine West, l.e.i., B Brian Atwood, and Rachel Rachel Roy. When you walk into TJ Maxx and lovingly run your fingers over the pebbled surface of a Nine West hobo bag, I can assure that at some point in the past few months, I, as a Handbags Customer Service Representative placed the order for that particular purse. I’ve also watched to make sure it made it all the way from China (by boat), to the US, from truck to warehouse, to store, and finally into your closet. It’s a big job but I’m grateful to catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes and to see what goes into the production aspect of the industry.
I’d bet some wanting to go into “Fashion” may think that the only careers out there are the seemingly unattainable designer, buyer, or stylist. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, those may be some of the most coveted positions, but in the fostering of each and every new shoe, dress, or trend each season, it really takes a village to raise ideas from the ground up. I can also say that finding a spot with a large name like Jones has been an eye-opener as to just how important communication and computer skills are in the modern Fashion industry (so when you’re cursing your English prof for making you write a 15-page essay, don’t! Someday you’ll be writing 100 important emails a day!)
I have also been fortunate enough to find a home for 40-hours a week that allows self-expression through what I wear without having to stuff myself into a two-piece suit. My general wardrobe for work even factors in a few pairs of wide-leg jeans for spring/summer, maxi skirts, and tons of structured dresses (not too short of course!). It feels great to be a part of something that is dynamic and widely-recognized so soon after finishing up my college career. My Customer Service job has allowed me to learn more about the business of Fashion every minute and I’ve found a place that supports me just as I support it. I’m a link in a bigger chain, and proof that there are other options in a post-College Fashionista life besides being Anna Wintour or working at the mall.