The fashion industry is cutthroat. Anyone who’s seen thirty seconds of The Devil Wears Prada would understand. It’s an arena of well-dressed football players who will cleat outsiders that mistakenly stumble onto the field. (I may be hyperbolizing, but you get the gist.)
So if you’re a fashion student and you have a tote bag filled with breakdown stories, just know you aren’t alone. And while we can’t all be versions of Andy Sachs, what we can be is stubborn and hard working.
Gianluca Inglesi graduated from Ryerson University four short years ago. Scores of hairstyles and birthdays later, he landed a position as a buyer for one of the world’s most popular fast fashion retailers, indirectly responsible for dressing the thousands of young people who meander into H&M every day.
The most interesting part about his story is that Inglesi didn’t even study fashion.
“I worked at H&M as a sales advisor while I was in school. I’ve always been the creative type, but I wasn’t necessarily a good painter, drawer, musician or anything of the sort, so I found it hard to express my creativity.”
“In journalism, I was able to write, but it wasn’t always the most creative either. What I can attribute to journalism is the communication skills and confidence level I have now.”
When the opportunity came forward for Inglesi to play with mannequins all day at work, he jumped at the chance. I mean, dressing up dolls in childhood bedrooms at playtime is one thing. But imagine getting paid to do so – but on a much larger scale.
Inglesi’s personal, androgynous style plays a pivotal role in how he does his job. As a buyer, he’s responsible for a myriad of tasks: selecting designs, patterns and colours to bring into the country, deciding how to present certain looks in stores, controlling pricing as well as understanding when quantities need to be increased or abandoned.
The communications skills he learned in school facilitated the way he presented looks on store mannequins – outfits that garnered him the attention he needed to eventually transcend his visual manager role.
“I learned how to appeal to different customers with different ways of communicating. The Bloor Street woman, for example, is a high street woman – she’s coming in after shopping at designer stores.”
“She’s trying to find the fast fashion version of something she didn’t want to invest in because it was a trendy piece that might go out of style in two years.”
Inglesi’s breadth of fashion knowledge and his trend awareness largely stems from his consumption of social media. He believes the Internet has changed fashion forever and that anyone looking to break into the fashion industry must take advantage of it.
“Find something you’re interested in and think about how it can be applicable to something else. Think about how you can evolve it. The people I know who may have been interested in typography are now doing digital design – still doing typography, but realizing they had to evolve,”
“It’s thinking of how you can take your interests and make them into something bigger. It’s easy to say, “I love fashion and I love designing clothes” – but what sets you apart from everyone else? How can you expand your portfolio to make you someone who is both hirable and desirable? How can you learn certain things to propel you forward?”
So maybe we all need to take the advice of out old high-school-jock classmates next time we read their #HardWorkPaysOff posts on Instagram. They’re right.
Written by: Connor Garel