NextinFashion On Hold


I feel I owe an update! I started working at a new job and it has certainly taken a toll on my time (as expected). With that said, I do apologize and hope that the content throughout NextInFashion is still of use to you – please tweet ( @ShelbyJac )  or email me with any questions/comments/requests! Thank you.

shelby (at) nextinfashion (dot) (com)

Regrets? Not interning for Ann Inc.

Looking back at my college experience, I am thankful (and proud of myself) for each of the internships I completed, the lessons they thought me and skills I walked away with. With that said, I do wish I would have applied for some of the big-wig NYC fashion internships; i.e. Ann Inc. (I’m a big fan of ANN; nearly of my clothes are from there including my very first suit. Bah Bam). Anyhow, I found an internship listing the other day. DO APPLY (and please tell me about your experience)!

Click here to download the pdf version of the Ann Inc. internship listing.

The Wrongs and Rights of Fashion Internships

As noted in my post a few days ago, there is a NextinFashion contest underway (in collaboration with The Resource List and NYFW)! In addition, author (and fashion industry professional), Natalie Gowans has provided us with another sneak peak of the contest prize, her book, Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure, Vol. I.

Part 2. The Internship Problem
Extracts from Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure, Volume One,

A stone cold dose of the real facts about starting your career in fashion, and illegal internships, doled out by hardened PR girl Emma Crosby (the woman responsible for launching the Miss 60 brand in the UK), and Ross Perlin, author of scary bed- time read for any graduate: ‘Intern Nation’. In two parts.

Anybody who has tried to find their first job in the fashion industry is likely to have come up against it – the internship problem. You can’t get a job without experience, you can’t get experience without a job. OR, at least, without doing an unpaid internship. There you will do all the things associated with a first job – learn, work hard, put in the full whack of hours, and probably get talked down to a bit and have to kiss a fair bit of boot-heel too – but receive little or no money in return. Instead you will be paid in that golden and elusively indefinable substance – experience. And that sweet stuff (you are led to believe,) will get you a REAL JOB in the end.

The trouble is, more often than not, when your time is up and you hold out your hands for the career you thought would be awaiting you at the end of it all, you are casually kicked to the curb.

“What’s going on?” you may say to yourself after a few months or years of this, wringing your hands and frantically scouring the job pages looking for somebody, anybody who will actually employ you for a living wage – “Isn’t this kind of thing illegal?”

And the answer is: YES. It bloody well is.

“The word ‘internship’ is a smokescreen. It has a glamour attached to it that doesn’t really relate to the reality. In fact, ‘internship’ is not a real job description at all.”

These words were spoken by Ross Perlin, the author of Intern Nation, at a lobby meeting held at Westminster following the ‘Imagine a World Without Interns’ rally outside the Houses of Parliament in June 2011.

He was addressing a crowd of interns, journalists, students, politicians and activists, (and me), as part of a discussion about how to put an end to the current, problematic internship system. And he was alluding to a worrying fact about internships. It is this: they do not really exist.

“What?” you may be asking, screwing up your face in disbelief. “Poppycock! I am doing an internship right now! All my friends are doing them too!” you may be adding, scornfully, preparing to throw this book aside in disgust.

But wait. The fact of the matter is, in the UK at least, (and in many cases in the USA too,) if you are doing the work of a paid employee and working the hours a paid employee would work, and you are NOT getting paid at least National Minimum Wage or the equivalent, then your employer is breaking the law.

The Internship system as it exists now began its life in the States, and has since been exported to many other countries, including the UK. The word ‘intern’ was first used in medicine to describe student doctors, but the terminology gradually crept into other industries, and ‘internship’ evolved to describe a kind of big brother of work-experience and sneaky cousin of the apprenticeship.

Soon, however, it outgrew both of its more lawful and sensible family members and elbowed them aside. Now it is taking over the world, like a nasty virus. And, technically, it just isn’t legal. This sounds surprising, but if you think about it, it makes sense: working for nothing, for a year or longer, no union, no worker’s rights, no minimum wage…sounds a bit fishy doesn’t it?

Ross also hinted at some of the larger ramifications of the nationwide adoption of the internship system in the UK and America:

“Interns allow employers to save billions on labour costs, illegally, and they displace millions of legal, paid employees.”

- ie: internships contribute to the deterioration of the job market.

“They also concentrate opportunities in cities and populous centres where it is expensive to live, so only the wealthy can afford to live there and work for free. This takes away opportunities from those who cannot afford to work for nothing, and from those who live in other (less wealthy) parts of the country.”

- Internships help widen the increasing gap between the nation’s rich and poor.

“The larger impact of internships is affecting a generation. It is delaying the times at which young people are able to reach important life stages – getting paid jobs, buying homes, getting married, having children etc. It is extending the adolescence of an entire generation.”

- And that, of course, affects everything, from the economy to the birth rate. Yep, internships are altering the very fabric of our society.

Scary stuff, eh?

For more blood-curdling facts to keep you awake at night, go and read Ross’s book, Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy

Or pick up your copy of Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure now, to read the rest of the chapter! 

And … try not to have nightmares.

Best wishes,

Natalie Gowans

Intern Interview: Taryn at

Continuing my coverage (and flourishing admiration) of, I decided to interview their intern, Taryn about her experiences working for the dot-com.

NIF: Hi Taryn, which Chicago school do you attend?
Taryn: DePaul University

NIF: Tell me about your program of study and 2 of your favorite courses.
Taryn: I am a double major In PR/AD and Communication Studies.  Two of my favorite classes were Intro to Advertising and Dating and Communication.  I really enjoyed the final project for Intro to Advertising; we had to develop an ad campaign for a non-profit organization in Chicago – it was a great learning experience.  I liked the Dating and Communication class because it was very interesting to learn all the different aspects of how people interact with one another in a relationship.

NIF: Does your school offer assistance in finding internships?
Taryn: Yes, DePaul has a great career center that is very helpful to students and alumni; they offer networking events, workshops, and also post internships on a website called Experience.  I would recommend that students post their resume on the site, because it allows employers to their view profile and reach out to them. They also have career advisors available to meet with students for every college.

NIF: How did you come across this opportunity?
Taryn: I work at Shop857, a boutique that is featured on  I reached out to Suzanne to see if Garmental was looking for intern because I love the website and I thought it would be a really good experience to learn hands-on what it takes to run a successful fashion website.

NIF: Tell me a little bit about the application/interview process…
Taryn: Suzanne and I met for coffee; the interview process was a bit informal, which I enjoyed, since it was more relaxed. We spoke about my interest in fashion and various fashion sites/ blogs I look at, school and different outlets students use as to get fashion news.  We also spoke upcoming Garmental/GarmentalU projects.

NIF: What are your responsibilities as an intern? Which classes would help a student prepare for your internship?
Taryn: As of right now, my main responsibilities are to curate local/national fashion articles for the websites. I believe writing for PR would help prepare students for my internship. I learned how to write various types of print in the class – these skills can be applied to my internship now, and also my work in the future.

NIF: What has your favorite experience been so far with Garmental? 
Taryn: I can’t say I have one favorite experience… I think that being involved in the styling process for one of Garmental’s recent news segments was such a cool experience.  I was also able to be a part of an interview we did with Teresa from the Real Housewives during Fashion’s Night Out – this showed me firsthand what the interview process is like with a celebrity.

NIF: Which post/page on the Garmental is your favorite and why?
Taryn: One of my favorite outfits featured on Garmental was the Miss Business post, which was also posted on the GarmentalU Facebook page. I loved it because I am going to be entering the working world at the end of the school year and I find it to be such a challenge to look fashionable in business attire. I think that this is great for those students looking for a perfect interview outfit. I also love the pink clutch – it adds a pop of color to the outfit.

NIF: What do you think the campus style reps will get out of their experience contributing to Garmental?
Taryn: I think the GarmentalU style reps will be able to express their fashion advice and style to a wide audience. It’s such a great way to get involved in the online fashion scene. You never know who is looking at your posts; GarmentalU definitely opens many doors to students trying to get ahead in the fashion industry. Apply to be a GarmentalU Style Rep here!


About Garmental is an online community of local shopping & style. Garmental puts you, the shopper, in touch with the very best local brands and boutiques. They provide fashion-obsessed, savvy shoppers with style inspiration, boutique search and mapping, giveaways, sale and local fashion news updates.

Enter our first contest to win a copy of “Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure, Vol. I”

I was recently contacted by fashion industry professional and author, Natalie Gowans, about her first book, Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure, Vol. I. Natalie used to work in fashion in a variety of roles, including Designer, Pattern Cutter, Sample Machinist and Dogsbody. She hopes that this book might prove useful to other aspiring fashion industry newbies (or at least give them a bit of a chuckle at her expense).

Natalie describes the book as honest and heart-warmingly funny; a story which tells the true tale of an unlikely novice’s journey deep into the strange world of the British fashion industry. It is packed with insights from behind the scenes of major fashion houses including Vivienne Westwood, Giles, and Matthew Williamson, and first hand advice from top industry personalities like Amanda Wakeley, Zandra Rhodes and Tim Walker.

She has agreed to give NextinFashion a few sneak peaks of the book throughout this month as well as chances for you readers to win an e-copy of the book!


‘The Cold, Hard Truth’
Extracts from Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure, Volume One, 

A stone cold dose of the real facts about starting your career in fashion, and illegal internships, doled out by hardened PR girl Emma Crosby (the woman responsible for launching the Miss Sixty brand in the UK), and Ross Perlin, author of scary bed- time read for any graduate: ‘Intern Nation’. In two parts.

‘Part 1. Facing Reality

“New designers often don’t realize how expensive and difficult it is to promote a new business,” said Emma Crosby, Managing Director of London a la Mode showrooms and the UK representative of Triba Space (the international online showroom for emerging designers).

She had agreed to share a few words with me after speaking at a PR workshop in June 2011. (Also, we were at the pub. It’s the best place to be when facing the harsh reality of things.)

“Promotion is something you really have to factor into your budget,” she explained. “You have to work out how much you can afford to invest each month – how much product will you have to sell to make each marketing investment worthwhile? It needs to be part of your business plan from the start.”

“I started selling back when the economy was strong,” she explained, “and there is a LOT more competition now. New designers have really got to have business skills.”

She went on to talk about some of the nitty gritty aspects of starting your own design label:

“The truth is, it usually takes designers a long time to make money. They might have to get another job to keep them going. People aren’t always prepared for that.”

“Designers are also sometimes intimidated by the grim reality of running their own business – working 15 hour days etc. I think it is unfortunate that universities don’t prepare design students more for these things. It’s good that they encourage them, of course, but there should also be a point where they say “this is the reality” and give them case studies of creative people who haven’t made it, and why, and vice versa.”

“You have to remember, it is not all about fantastic designs. It has got to be about practical concerns as well.”

It certainly has. But then, making it on your own in any field is always going to be hard work. Perhaps the simpler route is to get your foot on the ladder at a bigger company and work your way up? Well…’

For the truth about THAT, you’ll have to wait until my next extract installment: Excerpts Part 2 – The Internship Problem. (Although, of course, if you can’t wait, you could always buy the book…)

And to all the aspiring young designers out there – good luck!

Natalie Gowans – Author, Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Failure, Vol. I

To find out more, please visit:

Interview with a Fashion Business Owner:

The other day I received an email from Mary at SkirtPR (such a fab name for a PR company) regarding GarmentalU’s Style Rep opportunities for college students obsessed with fashion. As I am staunch believer in having side projects while in college, I highly recommend applying to contribute to the site. Employers will love to see your commitment and dedication, and you’ll actually have items to show off in your portfolio.

In case you missed my introduction post, Garmental was founded by Suzanne Kopulos, a woman who professes her style to be ‘glam and edgy with a splash of sparkle,’ and has lived through the process of getting into the fashion industry and building businesses. Read my mini-interview below to find out more about this rockstar industry professional.

NIF: What is your first style memory?
SK: Probably watching my mother sew matching outfits for me and my sibs just about every holiday. We were super cute!

NIF: What inspired you to get degrees in business and law?
SK: I’ve always had an interest in business development and creating a brand. Law school was just a natural progression after undergrad because I wanted to develop better analytical skills.

NIF: While in school, were you working on any side-projects?
SK: I was developing ideas behind Boujie, my first brand.

NIF: While in school, did you develop relationships with any mentors? How did you meet them and how have they helped you get to where you are now?
SK: I think you find the best mentors are indirectly related to your interests. I’ve been luck y enough to be surrounded by teachers and relatives that exercised my mind to develop ideas. It’s really important to watch and learn from those who want to share.

NIF: Tell me about your first month after moving to NYC – what were your first steps towards getting your foot into the fashion industry?
SK: Well, I never moved to NYC. I spent weeks at a time in NYC over the course of a year developing an understanding of how the manufacturing and sourcing worlds work in fashion. I looked up sample makers in WWD, walked the garment district and took advice and recommendations from friends and complete strangers on who, what and where to begin. From there I just made my way soaking it all in and using trial and error. Believe me…there is a lot of error in the beginning.

NIF: What helped you acquire your design and production knowledge? Specific teachers/mentors? Books? Courses?
SK: The only schooling I’ve had is life experience. I’m self taught and basically try to squeeze out every bit of knowledge from every source I possibly can. Research and networking is the best way to learn period. I’m told you don’t learn a whole lot about manufacturing in school either. Basically experience working for other people is where you are going to find the most information.

NIF: Why Chicago (versus New York City)?
SK: I’m from Chicago and was raised in South suburban Flossmoor. After law school, I moved back to be close to my family and start this path. From there I would fly back and forth to NYC, always staying with my college roommate Kolleen. Thank God she lived there!

NIF: Which boutique in Chicago is your best kept secret? Boutique in New York City? Boutique in LA?
SK: I couldn’t tell. Isn’t that why it’s a secret?
NIF: *question FAIL

NIF: Where were you when you first had the idea for Garmental?
SK: Four years ago when I was living in Lincoln Park. I was shopping a lot and thought a “Look of the Day” would be an great way to inspire people style-wise and would ultimately get the word out for independent boutiques.

NIF: What types of people have you worked with to make Garmental a reality and how did you find/meet them?
SK: I’ve known our Creative Director, Sarah Jura, since I was a kid. When she started Brick Studios with her husband Jeff, I hired the duo to rebrand Boujie and design my website. They are the creative minds behind how the site is designed and functions. Korey Karnes launched the site with us too, she is clearly an amazing writer, editor and dear friend with great ideas. She was the perfect choice. Our photographer Margo Kuchuris Wiseman also shoots all of my Boujie work, so that was a no-brainer. She has tons of experience with product shots and people, and we work together as a team seamlessly.

NIF: What do you hope your campus style reps will get out of their experience contributing to Garmental?
SK: My biggest hope is to create a space for 18-24 year olds solely devoted to a dialogue about style and fashion. I would love for GarmentalU to open up the floodgates to personal style talk and really expose what students are thinking, wearing and wanting in regards to fashion and style. This is an open discourse and an amazing platform to be heard. There are no rules, no preconceived notions and definitely no judgments on our part. This is truly a place where the fashion identity of student-life will be examined and reported.

———–> Go to the GarmentalU Style Rep Application

*Interview with a Garmental intern coming soon!