The life of a Fashion Intern
Vincent Li, who graduated from Raffles in early 2014, ventured to the UK under the arrangement of the school, to undertake an internship at J.W.ANDERSON as part of his Fashion Design qualification. I worked at the studio, which included sampling, pattern making, production and archiving. The role required multi-skills, fast learning, attentiveness, and flexibility.
The studio swapped interns around on a weekly basis in order to help them experience different types of jobs; all great exposure for his future career. The first few days I was assigned to the production department. Since it was just after the SS 2014 men’s fashion show, the company had huge orders coming in. The department required manpower to meet the deadline. It was labour intensive. I remember that I had to work non-stop from morning until 11PM on my second day, but it was great to be part of the reactive mayhem.
Coincidentally a junior designer was looking for someone who could speak and write in Chinese while a colleague was on holiday. I had to make contact with the factory in China to coordinate the shoes or the SS2014 womenswear runway.
Since I was able to get the job done quickly, I gained trust from the junior designer from my first day. I was the only intern responsible for contacting the China factory, sourcing and researching on the shoes. It also led to an opportunity to work closer on illustrations for the design office later in the internship.
After my first few days in production, I was swapped to the sampling room. At the beginning of the new collection, I helped to make samples based on inspiration inputs. Then everything would be packed, labelled, and kept in house. They were used for putting the entire collection together. I did three samples within two days, and also tried different widths of stitching, and French seams on pleated fabric. As an intern, I needed to learn studio rules, such as cutting instructions, pattern-making instructions, the usage of ironing and heat pressers, usage of proper hangers, packing different trims, sample trackers, delivery notes, and instructions on answering the phones.
After two weeks of working in the sampling room and in production, I had a new assignment to work with an illustrator and a knitwear designer. The tasks included drawing initial sketches of the collections, details of the sampling, and editing that season’s technical specifications.
Week by week, I was given more designs to do, such as knitwear, logo developments, sweater layouts, and scarf designs. The whole experience of designing scarfs was particularly enjoyable. I did over 80 designs for scarf pattern, by manipulating the J.W.ANDERSON logo to create new patterns.
During the several trials on the shoe samples, where designs were changed constantly, I was given a massive research assignment on shoe suppliers, sizes, and even styles. The requirements of he research were constantly changing.
Since I had no experience in sampling, occasionally my confidence especially on a particular fitting day. I felt I was not fast enough, and couldn’t respond quickly enough.
I was than assigned back to the studio, sourcing fabrics and trims, delivering material, fabric or patterns. These assignments introduced me to all the company’s suppliers in London. It was a rare opportunity for a fashion design student to gain insight about the industry.
At J.W.ANDERSON, daily work was always at a speedy pace. Interns learnt on the job and needed to learn quickly.
I would love to have worked at J.W.ANDERSON for longer than three months. It was an excellent experience to learn about all parts of such an influential design label. I learnt many creative aspects of design how to respond to professional challenges and the nature of the constantly changing industry.