Getting an internship can help students to find out what they want to do with their future careers. (“Internship.”) As a fashion student, I was always interested in the publication or magazine industry and I now want to have a career in the department of a fashion magazine. Seeking a writing-related internship in the fashion industry will fulfill my interests. It was very fortunate for me to come across Retail Assembly as they were searching for intern. They were looking for an intern to support their products with smart content focused on global retail innovation, growth and strategy as well as trend forecast. I am glad that I had found a internship that offers a challenge and was a perfect match for my career goal.
When I started to study my master degree in fashion and got to know more about the fashion industry, I realized that there were a variety of interesting jobs. Fashion buyers and trend forecasters are some of them. In the retail industry, a buyer is an individual who selects what items will be stocked in a store, based on the predictions about what will be popular with shoppers. (Loxley) Retail buyers usually work closely with designers and their designated sales representatives and attend trade fairs, wholesale showrooms and fashion shows to observe trends. As for trend forecasters, the goal is to identify a trend years before it comes to fruition, and to break down the context of that trend for those who don’t have time to travel the world searching for inspiration. (Scully & Cobb 43) These two jobs might be seen as “fancy jobs” which include a lot of traveling and shopping around the world. In fact, scouring cultural events, fashion shows, trade shows, and designer showrooms in search of the “Next Big Thing” must have some degree of difficluty reality. I was interested in both careers of buyers and trend forecasters and I wanted to explore these two jobs during in my summer internship.
Retail Assembly is an agency of consultants and E-learning for fashion and retial business. They offer counsels and courses such as buying,
marketing, and branding for any business starter. (“Retail “) To fulfill the content of their product, they needed someone who could tell interesting stories about their clients. It was a great experience to work with Retail Assembly because not only did I have the chance to understand the business side of fashion, I also get to improve on my creative writing skills. This summer internship helped me to build up my resume and enriched my knowledge of retail business.
History of Retail Assembly
As the namesake, Retail Assembly is a group of top educational and retail professionals gathered together, developing fundamental online courses and news for the industry.(“Who”) Retail Assembly is the latest source of education for those who are seeking a career in fashion, and those who are looking to supplement their knowledge in the fashion and business field. The website offers a selection of courses and workshops, from Fashion Buying, Branding and marketing to Product Development and Retail Math. (Bajaja 55) Catering to busy schedules, the courses are taught through online approaches by professionals who are currently active in fashion and creative businesses. The keynote of Retail Assembly is that self-learning is a lifestyle and the courses are very flexible to access at anytime and anywhere.
Jennifer Pilkington, a graduate from Ryerson’s fashion marketing program, launched Retail Assembly in 2007 after years spent marketing and fashion buying for big companies in Canada. Jennifer has had a career in buying and product development that spans from luxury to sports. She has worked for Canada’s greatest retailers in the country’s best cities – Aritzia in Vancouver, Holt Renfrew in Toronto, and Garage in Montreal. (“People”) She wasn’t always interested in fashion but she was always interested in design, colour and shape. During her second year of fashion student at Ryerson, she obtained an internship at Holt Renfrew. It was an eye-opening experience when she started to work at their corporate offices. There was so much passion injected into fashion by much intelligence.
The concept of merging E-learning with current and update industry
news was born after Jennifer Pilkington left her buying job at the Bay. (Bajaja 54) She felt frustrated and wanted to give her team a good opportunity to learn on the job and progress. There was a lot going on in terms of learning really niche things. Jennifer found that textbooks were always a little bit stale, not really current or reflective of the marketplace. It was really important to consider time constraints and flexibility for a working person whom had left the school life. The people who are working in the industry come from great PR firms, advertising and social media companies as well as high academic background. (Tiu) They either provided the content or input. Every single course was designed by the contributions of multiple people. This ensured that each course reflected the scope of the industry. By bringing in a lot of people who have worked in the industry to look at each and every course, the content of the news was unbiased and fully structured. Moreover, Retail Assembly has people come from boutiques and also corporate levels who are currently working in the industry. It creates space for new instructors to come in and contribute.
Internship Learning Goal
As contributors for the blog of Retail Asembly, interns have to offer latest Canadian retail & fashion news and an in depth analysis of business model and marketing strategy, which are related to the main courses provided by Retail Assembly. I am also incharge of the colour forecast, style analysis, beauty trend and China scoop.
To reach the goal of being a brand content intern, I have to create headlines, crawl news feeds, suggest and write stories to blog, suggest or develop and edit campaign written content. Furthermore, I need to contribute to the broader content and social media strategies as well as contribute to the media monitoring report. I have also touched on the topic in marketing strategy of luxury and high street brands. For example, the shifting guidance of LVMH and Coach, as well as H&M’s move on sustainability and celebreity collaboration. Additionally, I had a full-scale discussion of how different brands, including Celine, J Crew, and Gap are using colour blocking as their main design concept.
Colour forecasting is a global career that focuses on upcoming colour trends.(Scully & Cobb ) A fashion forecaster predicts the colors, fabrics and styles that will be presented on the runway and in the stores for the upcoming seasons. The predicted concept or theme can applies to all levels of the fashion industry including haute couture, ready-to-wear, mass market, and street wear. The purpose of forecasting trend is to attract consumers, help retail businesses and designers to sell their brands. (Orrell) I have contributed several stories that focused on my interest in colour forecast, style and trend analysis, as well as beauty industry. I had finished a couple of runway reviews, such as the Spring/Summer 2014 Bridal Fashion week in New York and Spring/Summer 2014 Menswear. I also dedicated a colour forecast for Spring/Summer 2014 and made a full mood board for our clients.
I believe that the best fashion show is on the street, so doing street style analysis is one of my passions. It can be really inspiring to see how people mix and match their personal style creatively. Weather it is in Paris, London, New York, Milan or any other zmazing cities, photographers are there capturing the best style. For designers and the magazine editors, the photographs are the tool to help dictate the trends. For the photographers and the models, it is art and expression. For the regular man/women form the street, it is a door to the fantast fashion – a world of glamour and excietment. Street style photography had managed to bridge the gap between the normal real world and the dizzing world of fashion. To analyze street style was a great oppertunity to examine fashion not only from the trend perspective, but also from a social and economical angle of how style transits from one to the next.
As someone who has a background in pharmaceutical and fragrance, I couldn not help but notice that beauty trends are getting more attention than usual. Fragrances and cosmetics are usually the main entry point for luxury brands, which is why controlling the beauty product’s communication and marketing strategy is key.( “Burberrys”) It is not rare that the luxury brand want to put their hand on the fragrance and cosmetics business because
they are the primary tool for attracting aspirational consumers. I had a closer look at Burberry’s move on fragrance and the development of Sephora, a fast-growning fragrance and cosmetic retailer.
I also explored issues relating to China, taking a stance on how fashion industry has invested in Asia market. China is bursting into the luxury retail world. The power of the Chinese consumer is growing. To succeed in the global market, companies need to capture the hearts of the 1.3 billion Chinese consumers. ( Bi et al. 253) With a proliferation of news on Chinese luxury consumers at home and abroad, I try to offer the best angle to some of the most relevant content on luxury brands and Chinese consumer preferences. For example, the influence of the New Chinese first Lady and ASOS’s advanced in Asia. Researching in consumer behaviors, I had hoped to find headline-worthy news and the lastest insights behind the red flag.
During this internship, I have imporved my fashion editorial and creative writing. I have also expanded my knowledge of retail business, the importance of net working and team work, as well as the asset of visial communication.
I published a large amount of fashion editorials and trend reports independently. These are my proudest references to my work and are wonderful additions to my portfolio. I truly appreicate that I was given the freedon to offer my own perspective on different affairs that were happening in the industry. It was a really good training process of critical thinking and creative writing. I had also actively did interviews with many talents in the fashion industry, sharing their philosophy of fashion with our readers. Some pieces were very successful because they are different from what the blog had before and brought a fresh air to the content.
I was amazed by both the artistry of fashion and the analytical business aspects. I liked that Retail Assembly offered participants different elements and perspectives of the business to stimulate critical
thinking and promote life-long learning. I can now constantly probe into the strengths and weaknesses in a business strategy, providing me with greater market awareness. I am also glad to have met Jennifer Pilkington, the founder of the Retail Assembly and Guidiance and Consaltant. She is a senior merchant, also an instructor at Ryerson University, collaborator for the retail buying courses and workshops. Her personality and experience are the best model for me to strive toward my dream job. She makes me believe that fashion has the a side of intelligence.
The importance of team work and net working was highlighted during my internship. It is interesting that a team can brainstorm together and stir up a sparkle in a discussion. The Retail Assembly team basically met once a week and discussed the latest fashion and retail news, searching for a good topic for the upcoming week. Interns also networked with each other, which can help one another in the future by sharing job and contact information. Having valuable, experienced contacts is helpful in the future for starting new business or job hunting.
Visual communication is strongly emphasized in fashion industry. (Barnard 29 )The design concepts are communicated through visual aid and are described as the conveyance of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon, such as illustration, colour, media and electronic resources. For me, the process of analyzing rumway and street style photos, my observation has become even more acute. It was a spectacular training process for eyes on colors and details, such as fabrics, texture or embellishment.
Internships provide a glimpse into different industries, allowing the interns to see whether they want to work in that field or not. Internships is important becase it allows to gain valuable experience in our areas of career interest. Often, the more experience students have, the stronger they are as the job candidate in the future. To search a position that fit my career goal is crucial.
I had excellent exposure to the global industry and learned the importance of great relationships with great people. What I really loved about Retail Assembly is that how well-operated they are. They started from a strong place – a lot of academic- and industry-based research. The number of brilliant people who touch each one is remarkable. An interest in editorial work grew from my love for writing, and as an extension of that, I’ve always had a insatiable curiosity for information, whatever the subject. I enjoy keeping up on the latest developments in culture, art, music, film and fashion. Trend reporting is a way to connect the dots by looking for patterns and shifts in fashion; similar to crafting an academic thesis, but one pertinent to business.
Last but not least, this internship has taught me that casual learning has always been a part of our daily lives. The key is to want to know the knowledge instead of rigidly adhering to formalities. The working experience and learning process are “invisible” but the most valuable asset that we can gain. Taking initiative with passion is a chance to step ahead from other people in fashion industry. Being attentive to everything detail happen around will give you a nice surprise and new thoughts.
Bajaj, Rahul. “Retail Assembly” KNOWMAG. July 2013. P54-55 Barnard, Malcolm. Fashion as Communication. London: Routledge, 1996. Print. Bi, Xiaogang, et al. “Chinese consumer ethnocentrism: A field experiment.” Journal of Consumer Behaviour (May 2012), 11 (3), pg. 252-263 Chang, Wendi. “Burberrys Move on Fragrance.” Web log post. Retail Assembly. N.p., 29 May 2013. Web. 27 July 2013. Loxley, T. (1996, Jan 04). “Fashion buyers’ forecast for spring.” The Globe and Mail (1936-Current). “Internship.” The Economist 27 Feb. 2010: 37EU. Academic One File. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. Orrell, Rita Catinella. “The Mysterious Art Of Color Forecasting.”Architectural Record 200.11 (2012): 53. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. “People : Jennifer Pilkington.” Interview. Weblog post. Retail Assembly. N.p., 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 3 Aug. 2013. “Retail Assembly X KNOWSHOW.” KNOWSHOW-BLOG. KNOWSHOW, 25 June 2013. Web. 28 July 2013. Scully, Kate, and Debra Johnston Cobb. “Colour Forecasting for Fashion.” London: Laurence King, 2012. Print.
Tiu, Valerie. “THE INSEAM VOL. 71: RETAIL ASSEMBLY — Vancouver Is Awesome.” THE INSEAM VOL. 71: RETAIL ASSEMBLY — Vancouver Is Awesome. Vancouver Is Awesome, 19 June 2013. Web. 04 Aug. 2013.