Falling in love with fashion PR


This is an article by Yasmin Lawton.
You could write for Behind the Spin too. Find out how here.

When I began my placement all I looked forward to was fashion week, and then suddenly it was here. The preparation was ridiculous.

Yasmin (centre) and colleagues off to a Todd Lynn fashion show

With seven clients showing – Antonio Berardi, Aquascutum, Christopher Kane, House of Holland, Osman, Richard Nicoll and Todd Lynn – there was so much to be done that I had never expected.

Invitation request lists had to be analysed and reanalysed daily, addresses for invites had to be requested or found, then came the long task of handwriting each invitation for every show.

Particular looks from each designer’s SS12 collection often got requested by celebrities so we had to ensure that every item was in the showroom, regardless of whether it had only just been sent out to New York two days prior to the request.

The stress that came with the lead up to fashion week didn’t seem worth it, until we got to request shows to work at.

The popular choices for interns to choose seemed to be those that would be filled with celebrities to awe over, however that didn’t interest me.

I knew which shows I wanted to work, as I loved the collections of each designer, I was determined to make sure I was at each show. Antonio Berardi, Aquascutum, Richard Nicoll and Todd Lynn – my determination paid off.

It seemed only fair that I had more shows than other interns. I would do anything in order to make sure there were no slip ups, I turned up earlier than requested for every show, I upheld a professionalism that I had never cared to have before and even when I’d been helping backstage as soon as the first model hit the runway I had the same mind-blowing excitement for every show.

Fashion has always been an important aspect of my life. In choosing a university degree I always considered whether a particular course would prohibit me from finding a path in to the fashion industry.

Public relations seemed like a perfect career to be part of the industry without the stigma that working in fashion can often bring. And I was yet to reconsider my career options when I decided to take on a placement in one of the world’s leading fashion PR agencies.

I had stumbled across The Communications Store. I’d heard of other top agencies in London such as Relative MO and Karla Otto from reading fashion week articles in Elle and Vogue, but would always dismiss them as being unrealistic placement choices.

When I came across The Communications Store (TCS) all of those doubts were replaced with determination, I had never felt more passionate about a prospective job opportunity before – and although it was just for a work placement I knew that I would do anything to get it.

Foot in door

I initially emailed Natalia Cassel, a Group Account Director at TCS asking whether I could interview her for my portfolio. Once this was done I enquired about the possibility of doing a summer placement. I quickly worked out how busy the fashion industry was. After two months of emails between Natalia and HR it seemed my persistence had paid off and I was offered a four-month placement from early June until the end of September.

My first day was possibly one of the most exhausting of my life. I obviously arrived early so sat drinking coffee to calm my nerves before actually going in to the building. I hadn’t really thought about what to expect but was stunned to find that everyone was welcoming.

What I also hadn’t anticipated was the amount of work an intern was expected to do. Alongside eight other interns it was our job to do pretty much anything and everything that needed to be done.

The heart of the office is the showroom

A fashion PR agency is unlike a normal PR office environment in almost every way. The standard computers, desks and boardroom remains the same, but in fashion PR the heart of the office is the showroom and it was the interns’ role – under the guidance of the fashion merchandiser – to make sure it was spotless.

It took me only a week to realise that would never happen. It took me only a day to realise that no intern should ever start on a Monday with low work expectations.

A fashion intern’s main role at TCS was to book out send-outs or book in returns. Unlike conventional campaign and press release work, the majority of PR in fashion is sending out clothes for publication or press.

As TCS has such a high-profile client list, including Christopher Kane, Missoni, Nicholas Oakwell, Roland Mouret and Versace, it was imperative that the whereabouts of every item of clothing was known. Stock checks became a regular part of my summer; in fact my work placement began to become my life.

I had never been so passionate about working before. I became so involved with working at TCS that it seemed to be the only thing I did. I struggled to keep on top of the blog I had intended to be a diary for my placement, and the regular tweets I had initially hoped to do were unrealistic in such a busy environment.

Feels like full-time

What I had anticipated to be a regular work placement became what seemed to be a full-time job. Working 9-6 Monday to Friday meant that I was constantly tired, after the commute back home every evening all I wanted to do was sleep. I began to struggle to find any motivation to work and began to cherish my weekends up to Leeds or going back home to Essex.

After a week in Ibiza I knew I had to decide whether I wanted to continue my placement. It wasn’t until my first day back at TCS after my holiday that I realised how much I’d missed the office. It also seemed pointless to even consider leaving my placement early after the effort it had taken to get it. I’d forgotten before how much I loved the family environment, the spontaneous tea breaks – that I usually started – and the random errands I’d always offer to run. It took being away from that environment and actually having downtime to realise how much I loved working at TCS.

Put off fashion PR

I had so many different feelings about the PR industry and which field I hoped to go in to once I finished my degree. After the first couple of months of my placement I had assumed I’d been completely put off fashion PR and that the placement had shown me that I didn’t want to be part of the industry.

However, by the end of fashion week I had fallen completely back in love with fashion. I realised how privileged I was to have worked for such a fantastic company alongside amazing people. I’m still unsure whether fashion PR is definitely for me, but that’s the whole point of work placements, to gain an experience of what you might want to do with your life.  I now know that fashion PR is still very much an option.

Comments

  1. This was a great read – it’s good to get a real view of the fashion PR industry from an entry level perspective. Hearing and reading about personal experiences like these would be super helpful at fashion schools like Academy of Art University Fashion School. It’s good to hear that fashion PR is still an option for you – it sounds like it’s rewarding, though definitely not easy!

  2. Michelle says:

    I stumbled upon this article because I actually have an internship at TCS this summer! I would love to talk to you more about what I should expect.

  3. Hi, I myself am trying to apply for a position at TCS and have sent my CV to a senior account executive who replied me the next day saying my CV and cover letter have been transferred to the best person who would deal with it.

    I was really happy but am realising that the wait is killing me. I therefore called and the receptionist told me that if I am successful they will call me but that she can’t say how long i will wait for.

    The thing is that I would do anything and talk to anyone who would guide me into getting a position there. I think this company is just perfect and their philosophy reminds me of mine. Could you tell me some people I could email or even talk to?

  4. Best to contact the author of this post, Yasmin Lawton. LinkedIn tells me she’s now Press Assistant at Paul Smith.

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