Long time no see. Kind of ironic how a couple day break from writing turned into a several month break. I never really planned to go MIA for this long but I’m now realizing it might have been one of the best decisions moving forward. Stepping back from Something in the Style made me hyper-aware of the industry I was in, and how I want my experiences to shape the future of my writing.
It feels good to be writing here again. It’s that same feeling of excitement, curiosity, and peace-of-mind that I have approached Something in the Style with for over two years now. Just now there is refreshing clarity that I didn’t know how badly I needed. A lot has happened since my last post in November and I think I’m finally in the headspace to let you all in on what I’ve been up to this past year.
In September of 2018 I was just three weeks into the start of my freshman year of college. I probably should have been worried about socializing and making friends, balancing new and demanding workloads, and spending more time studying a map of New York City than my actual classwork. But no, I could never be so conventional. I scoured online job boards looking for something to fill my free time in between classes, a concept still obscure to me coming right from seven years of structured schedules. I applied for an open PR Intern position for a Midtown-based designer named Naeem Khan. The name rang a vaguely familiar bell and that was exciting enough for me. The more I thought about how this random online job site could be a complete scam the more I settled with the fact that it was really just a shot in the dark. I imagined no one on the other actual end of the screen or that maybe some new employee forgot the account password and months worth of unopened intern resumés have been lingering throughout the inbox sizing each other up. I didn’t expect to hear back but when I did I was memorizing the subway map on how to get myself there for when I started at 10AM the following Monday morning.
I could just copy and paste my LinkedIn description of what I did in the position here, but that’s something you can go scrounge for yourself if you’re truly inclined. I spent four months at Naeem Khan. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning I hopped off the Q train at Herald Square and made my way into the office and in the afternoons headed out to make it back downtown in time for class, and to grab coffee because God knows I needed it. I was freshly nineteen and wanted to put myself in the shoes of a thirty year old. The balance of schoolwork, sleep, a job, socializing, and keeping healthy and happy I found to be a fun little challenge, although socializing definitely ended up coming up short. Working at Naeem Khan I found my first NYC family, even if the employees there just cycle my face through as one of the semester interns. I was treated with respect, graciousness, and appreciation on a day-to-day basis which I now realize is not how it is across the board. I’m so lucky to have been surrounded by some of the industry’s most beautiful and creative minds for months and it set me on a high that I had finally gotten to do something I’d looked at from afar for so long. I often think about where I would be now if they hadn’t taken a chance on a girl with zero experience and a naiveness to New York that was laughable, but I am forever grateful they did.
Fall semester came to a close and I poked around online for somewhere I could intern come second semester. I sent my resumé everywhere, hearing back from some, but being ghosted by most. I nailed down interviews at Sergio Rossi, V Magazine, and Rebecca Minkoff and somehow had a 3/3 success rate and was offered a position at each company. For some reason I had attached myself to the idea of working at V Magazine from the start, and I knew it would trump all other offers if I was hired. V is a notorious magazine when it comes to all things fashion, music, and starpower and the idea of it was intriguing. I’ve always set my sights on working at a fashion magazine, but after growing up devouring The Devil Wears Prada, what girl doesn’t? I began at V in January as a Fashion Intern, reporting to the publication’s pre-war office space in the heart of Soho. Think cobblestone streets, towering metal-framed windows, and rows and rows of boutique shopping. Yeah, dreamy. The positions description was relatively obsolete but the excitement of sitting in team meetings with the infamous Stephen Gan or getting tidbits of details into future issues was unparalleled.
I wish I could say the initial rush of interning at V turned permanent, but unfortunately it quickly died out. A disclaimer: my goal here is to highlight drastically different working expectations and ethics, not to come across as ungrateful or unappreciative in any respect. Okay, great, continuing. I was initially treated as though I would play an important part of the team by meeting the employees, sitting in on daily meetings, and creating trend projections for the fashion team to use for pulling looks. What it soon turned into was having to run all over the city for hours picking up garment bags, dropping off garment bags, and doing personal errands all on our own dime. Sometimes the temperature was in the single digits outside. I know these are common duties of any fashion intern, but feeling like my sole purpose of being there was to be their pack mule every single time I entered the office became discouraging. I’d carry garment bags bigger than myself, often several at a time, and be sweating and hungry by the time I returned back to the office only to be told to head out again and pick up more. I rarely heard a ‘thank you’ slipped in there. If I didn’t physically leave the office to get lunch, I would never be given a moment to eat. I cried in public for my first time ever at 9PM on a Friday night as I waited on the Bleecker Street subway platform, just then leaving the office after feeling demoralized, beat up, and like I was the last one of the 8.5 million people in NYC to be happy.
What I found to be problematic at V was that everyone was scared of the people above them. The pride in hierarchy is destructive and has a ripple effect far beyond the surface. Interns bond through mutual misery and because it’s so easy to blame an intern for a screw up, we took the heat for a lot of things that never were our own doing. I worked harder than ever to prove myself at V, although it seemed like every time I made headway it was like they forgot and I started back at the bottom of the food chain. My love/hate relationship really comes into play here because I did experience some of the most amazing and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I couldn’t get anywhere else. Working on set with some of the biggest models in the industry, meeting amazingly talented photographers, makeup artists, and hair stylists who play one of the most crucial roles in making shoots happen is just a snippet of the chances I got to see into the industry. Being on set makes some of the more tedious tasks like hauling trunks up stairs and into the backs of Ubers or 7AM uptown call times worth it. What I will hold closest to my heart from the whole five months at V is that when I open VMan 41, V118, V119, and V120 to the masthead and see my name in minuscule font, I will know how hard I worked to deserve my name to be there forever.
I never expected myself to get ‘tired’ of fashion, but for a period of time I did and I had no better word to describe the feeling other than simply ‘tired’. It was nothing drastic, and I didn’t throw myself through an existential crisis because of it, but I found myself fed-up with the fashion industry as a whole. When you’re too invested or involved in something, it’s hard to see it from a clear perspective anymore. I was too deep in experiencing the industry in real time that it skewed my idea of what I wanted to write about and what I thought was important to write about. Fashion is changing in big ways and I want to be able to use my experiences to speak to the issues that will play a role in the industry one, five, twenty years from now. I really don’t care what the best summer sundress trend is, I’m glad some people do because I’ll always take recommendations, but topics like that don’t carry enough weight to be memorable. Something in the Style will always be rooted in finding my inner confidence through fashion but I also want it to be thought-provoking and enriching; my industry experiences up until this point made that very clear to me. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading through this tiny novel, I’ve had a lot of thoughts that needed to a place to live other than in my brain at night. I’m excited to start a new chapter of SITS and hope you’ll stick along for a good time. Talk soon.