Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stepping Into the Industry

A few associates trying on the latest shipment of merchandise, just for kicks.

After practically drooling over the fashion industry for a year or so, I decided that it was about time I finally enter into it, on a payroll. The summer before my freshman year of college I interviewed for a job at Express in the mall. I always appreciated Express clothing for its sophistication, timely trendiness and flattering garments. Express employees work in separate zones throughout the store. I was placed in zone 3 – the fitting rooms (when not trying to allure men to purchase shirts and suits they don’t need in zone 2). Although opening up the same eight doors with the same metal key for hours on end may seem redundant, at second thought there is no better way to influence the style of customers than to tell them what does and doesn’t look good on them.

Me and my manager, Will

I still remember the best day of work I had that summer. A young, petite, very average girl came walking back to the fitting room to try on a black skirt and basic top. I asked her what she was shopping for and her response was spiteful, yet adorable. She said that her and her boyfriend had an event to go to that night, where the other attendees would be a bunch of girls she knew from high school that were never friendly to her. She said she was looking for something to make her look HOT and (thank you Christian Siriano in advance for this word) fierce. Her intent was to show the caddy little high school immersed girls that she was no longer worthy of being picked on.
It was a very plain-little-caterpillar turns into traffic-stopping-dazzling-butterfly moment.
The store manager and I spent the next hour collaboratively running throughout the store picking up top after skirt after dress trying all possibilities and trends to make this girl a knock-out. One successful purchase, and a few accessories later she was on her way to the party. I can only hope that the fashion Gods were watching down on her that night and that the girls from years past never had a reason to disrespect her again.

The shoes that worked hundreds of hours

As for Express, it was the only job my mom said I never came home complaining about. I eventually got to work in every zone in the store (although I was always fitting-room biased). I never felt such a rush than coming home from college only to work Black Friday last year. I fell in love with the chaos and the fast-paced work environment.
And, even though the weekly schedule doesn’t have my name typed onto it anymore, that doesn’t erase the experience I first had from working in the semi-corporate world of fashion at Express.

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