Jul 3rd, 2018, 09:05 PM

Sew Into Fashion: The Handbook

By Sabrina Scholkowski
Fashion behind the scenes
The Hyères Festival 2018. Image Credit: Sabrina Scholkowski
A sum up guide of tips and insights from industry players on everything fashion.

Paris Fashion Week 2018 (September 25 - October 3) is approaching this fall and the temperatures are about to rise in more than a few ways from the outfits of the Frow (front row) attendees on Instagram, the glamorous second or third choices they wear to after parties or press events and the looks we see models strutting down the runways in, so I thought it'd be fitting to give a couple of tips or tricks if you want to try your luck at getting into the fashion sphere.

If you have been reading the Sew Into Fashion series, you are already aware that A. Most people in power positions within the industry have not exactly started in fashion and B. Everything can be somehow ultimately connected to fashion. Case in point, the Met exposition this year showcasing the fact that Catholicism has heavily influenced designers, celebrities and fashionistas alike for many years and even the most seemingly opposite of industries can find themselves intertwined at one point or another. What does this have to do with the article you ask? Everything. You see, the Met Gala is an opportunity for singers, actors, designers, and participants outside of the regular fashion sphere to be involved in the industry for one night; it shows that fashion can find inspiration in the most unlikely of places, and external sources can sometimes include their grain of salt in the field. We can get caught up in the system and believe that if we are not directly involved in the design or creative process, there is no way to participate in the fashion world, but that's where the error lies, and this is where technology comes into play. How? Nowadays, chemists can participate in fashion in the form of textile creation, architects can find a place as well, just look at Neri Oxman and her work, scientists, mathematicians, any profession can be intertwined with fashion one way or another, and that is the beauty (and the future if you ask me) of the industry.

Now going back to the article, over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to interview different personalities at different stages of their careers, all within fashion, and I also had the chance to attend the Hyeres Fashion, Photography and Accessories Festival in the south of France a couple of weeks back where I got an insider feel of the industry, so I will share with you a condensed version of the tips and overall lessons I have learned and have been taught from interviewing all these fantastic people and what they had to say, as well as my two cents in the matter.

No. 1: "It's all about the people you surround yourself with"

This is also a great life lesson in general, but it is an even better thing to keep in mind in the fashion industry, as being successful goes hand in hand with knowing how to collaborate with your team or other people, to be able to help each other, and just have the right people working for or alongside you. To have a mentor or someone who inspires you is helpful at any stage of your career, however, it is especially so if you are seeking to enter the industry or are just a beginner as he/she can give you the right tools to get on the best path to achieve your goals (or just motivate you enough to get started).

No. 2: "Looking at the industry's history and being connected to the present is the key to the future"

This one can be better explained in two parts: how the past affects the future, and how the present is also key. It is said that we are shaped by history, and nowhere does it ring truer than in fashion, as it is an industry known for not only being cyclical but also taking inspiration from the past: where old clothing items are taken out of their distinct eras and juxtaposed in modernity or given a fresh touch depending on the year or decade we are in. Not only that, but we must have an idea of what has already happened and why to not repeat the same mistakes or simply to know how to move forward from there, which is when the present comes into play. The future is uncertain, so the best way to approach it is to focus on the now and be aware of our surroundings and what is happening around us.

No. 3: "Nobody really knows what they're doing"

Ever heard of the saying: "fake it 'till you make it?," every single person, at one point or another, comes across something they might not know how to do or have not yet developed the skills necessary to accomplish the task, it has happened to the greatest, regardless of their stature. I have seen this in action first hand and have also heard it from countless stories about how people got into the industry. Next time you are presented with an impossible task, remember that nobody ever really knows what they're doing, it's all about trial and error, and being confident in yourself and believing you will find a way to solve anything that comes your way, that is after all what successful people have learned to do.

No. 4: "Don't let fear hold you back"

Being confident in yourself is not an easy feat, it takes some an entire lifetime to get to that point, regardless, what Francesca, Stephanie, Marine, Jeffrey, and everyone in the industry I have met along the way have taught me, is that fear is a great motivator. Being a model and having everyone's eyes constantly on you and scrutinizing you, opening a showroom on your own and not knowing how the turnout will be, launching your own magazine and turning it into an empire, spearheading an international business... it all takes courage, but they all agree that failure only brings you one step closer to what you are meant to be doing.

No. 5: "Be passionate about what you do"

Find something you like, whatever it is, and be passionate about it, that way you will always be motivated to do your best, and everything will fall into place, and success will follow.

And last but not least, No. 6 "Never underestimate the power of being nice"

I have to include this one here because it is probably the best lesson I have experienced in a while. I have always been told I am too nice for my own good, and while that might be sometimes true, there's nothing that I can't really do about that, it's just the way I am, but it's not until fairly recently that I have discovered the power of being nice, I will explain with a short anecdote. It was at The Hyères Festival, I was tasked to interview three personalities (however famous or not) and later do a profile story on them, all this in order to experience reporting in the field. I always like a challenge, so I had my mind set on getting someone important, and as I was about to lose hope, I saw my subject and decided it was time to act (I will not name names here as the purpose of this story is not the person, but the act itself) and approach him, so I did, I went up to him, flashed a megawatt smile, and awkwardly introduced myself and explained my task and tried to be as nice as possible... he refused, and I decided not to push, so I thanked him anyway and wished him a great evening, and just as I was about to turn around (might have been pure luck, you never know) he stopped me and said: "You know what, I normally don't do this, but you were just so nice, I feel bad about not doing this, and will agree to a couple of questions if you'd like." So if this moment taught me anything, is that a smile and being nice and polite to people can go a long way, no one forgets kindness.