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NEWS > Careers and Mentoring > INTO: Fashion

INTO: Fashion

Currently working as an assistant buyer for Zalando, Emma Johnston (New Hallian, 2011-13) writes about her route into the fashion industry and important lessons learnt along the way.
14 Nov 2019
Written by Emma Johnston
Careers and Mentoring

Fashion was never a career path I had ever considered while at school. I never felt particularly creative as I could neither draw, nor paint - let alone sew. However, what I have learnt since leaving is that there are a lot of other ways to demonstrate your creativity in this industry.
We often think the fashion world is limited to designers and stylists. However, there are many different avenues to explore. For example; Marketing, Social Media, PR, Trend Forecasting, Merchandising and the career I have found myself in - Buying. Something I was fortunate enough to have introduced to me by a family friend.
A week of work experience in her office made my mind up, and after sixth form instead of continuing an A-Level subject, I moved to a London University to study a combined 4-year Fashion & Business course. The business lessons I previously dreaded, all of a sudden became engaging and exciting as they were finally related to a subject I was interested in and actually understood.
The course allowed me to take a year in industry – the best thing can do for your career. It allows you to “try before you buy” and gain so much experience even before you graduate. My main piece of advice for anyone thinking about a job in fashion is that experience is key, however big or small.  These experiences teach you a lot more than you think, and you will really reap the benefits later. When I was at New Hall, I worked part-time in TK MAXX in Chelmer Village. Unknown to me at the time, it taught me my first lessons in analysing consumer behaviour; something which has become invaluable to my daily work.
Currently, I live and work in Berlin as an Assistant Buyer for Europe’s leading online fashion platform - Zalando. I get to travel all over Europe, meeting brands and ultimately selecting the ranges to be sold on the website. A lot of my job is understanding what our customers want by analysing sales data, spotting new trends, negotiating with suppliers and strategising ways for overall business growth.
The job is fast-paced and therefore can often be quite stressful, however continually challenges my creativity, with no two days being the same. I thrive on the diversity of the role, and it is really rewarding to see people on the street, wearing product I have bought or created.

Fashion is such a creative and exciting industry with so many different avenues to explore. If you have an interest in pursuing it as a career or just want some more information on becoming a Buyer – please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

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