Maybe you can recite all the lines from your favourite fashion flicks, but can you tell drama from reality? We let you in on some truths you might not have known about the fashion industry.
You don’t get free clothes all the time.
We’re sorry to break it to you, but all the designer duds you see debuting at fashion shows or in glossy magazine spreads? Those don’t quite make it off the runway and straight into the closets of people who work in fashion. Far from ‘The Closet’ in The Devil Wears Prada, where Andy (played by Anne Hathaway) gets to ‘borrow’ Chanel clothes, much of the designer clothes used for shoots are loaned and end up having to be returned. Perhaps from time to time, those who work in the industry may be gifted special designer pieces (more so towards very famous models- think the Hadids, Karlie Kloss, Kendall Jenner- and magazine editors), but most of the time their wardrobes come from their own wallets- more Zara than Chanel, not that that’s a bad thing at all!
The Fashion Week shows aren’t as glamorous as you might imagine.
The Zoolander films are so ridiculous, we wouldn’t take most of them seriously! One thing we’ve noticed, though, is that in the movies, fashion shows are portrayed as outrageously extravagant. Fashion shows are actually incredibly hectic, and no one gets their personal space: models have to change in an open space whilst being hounded by photographers, the shows’ guests are crammed into tightly packed seats and the paparazzi clamour to get shots of famous faces. In between shows, people rush around so much the whole day that there’s barely any time for a snack, let alone a proper meal! Perhaps we’re fine with watching from behind our computer screens.
Even those who get discovered as models don’t always have it easy.
Funny Face (1957), starring the beautiful Audrey Hepburn, is about a young woman who gets discovered by a famous fashion photographer and whisked away to Paris to start her career as a top model- basically, every aspiring model’s dream! Unfortunately, to burst your bubble, there’s a low chance of that happening. In actual fact, becoming a model is hard work, and expensive too. There’s a lot of running around agencies trying to find one that will represent you. To do that, you will need a good portfolio, which is often financed by the model his or herself. Lots of models move to big cities and share less-than-desirable housing to cut costs. There’s also a battle between models, art directors and photographers on what’s acceptable to shoot and what isn’t.
People in the fashion and magazine industries aren’t always horrible people.
Admittedly, we live for the on-screen drama that plays out in our fashion flicks, including the catty showdown between 13-year-old turned 30-year-old magazine editor Jenna and a frizzy-haired critique in 13 Going on 30, and basically every mean yet hilarious line Emily comes up with in The Devil Wears Prada. But in real life, many people in the industry just aren’t that horrible. Especially in this day and age, no one will body-shame you for being above a size four (US) or blatantly sneer over what you’re wearing. Now, body positivity and acceptance are IN; Vogue even put size 16 (US) model Ashley Graham on their cover!
Realistically, regular salaries won’t support serious spending addictions.
Yup, Sex and the City, we’re looking at you! We think most of you in the working world should know this by now, but if Carrie Bradshaw is your #goals in life, we just want to let you know not to feel bad if your wardrobe isn’t a walk-in wardrobe stuffed with tulle skirts and Dior. Many writers, journalists, stylists and more realistically wouldn’t be able to attain all of this stuff; in fact, most of us working women in our twenties to thirties wouldn’t be able to either! A more realistic scenario: in Confessions of a Shopaholic, lead character Becky faces the realistic outcome of her shopping addiction- she ends up in debt and has to sell all her clothes in order to pay them off. Let that be a cautionary tale for you guys.
You shouldn’t wear heels every day.
High heels may class up your look, but sometimes fashion isn’t worth the pain. Remember that scene of frenzy when Miranda Priestly (brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep, might we add) returns to the office and everyone frantically swaps flats for heels? In actual fact, heels pull muscles, cause backaches and hinder productivity; in real life it’s a norm for most people in the industry, from fashion editors, to models, to designers, to be running around carrying out their errands in sneakers all the time. But if you really must have a bit of height, block- or kitten-heel styles are cute and won’t totally destroy your posture!
You can eat more than salads or a single cube of cheese when you’re hungry.
Fit is the new skinny, and fad diets are on their way out. Many people in the fashion industry, just like everyone else, would rather eat healthy and work out than starve themselves (and “eat a cube of cheese” when they “feel like they’re about to faint”, like The Devil Wears Prada‘s Emily). With body positivity and diversity in all shapes and sizes becoming popular in the media and in real life, sticking to a size zero isn’t a priority anymore. Also, many fashion brands are prone to sending thank-you cupcakes and other sweet snacks to offices… and no one would want them to go to waste, right?
If you want to be in the industry, you’ll have to be prepared to work hard.
Many people only notice the glamorous side of fashion, and glamorous we can’t deny. Nonetheless, the fashion industry comes with its challenges, just like any other job. It’s about having a creative eye and being able to match the perfect outfits to accessories (getting the colours just right, of course), sourcing for several materials and outfits (be prepared to lug heavy bags around!) given a short deadline, being savvy, knowledgeable and skilled in covering informative and opinionated reviews on the latest trends, and at the highest level, being able to piece together an entire magazine or website’s worth of fashion material at a rapid pace, as trends are always changing!