THE INDUSTRY IN LONDON
Britain has a long tradition of valuing design, craftsmanship, and quality. FIE’s Kensington Campus intersects “Albertopolis,” a center of education and culture purchased with the profits from Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851, the first international exhibition of manufactured products, an event which showcased British design on a world stage. The extent of the colonial empire further introduced the British to design, specialty materials and luxury products from around the world. Britain has a long tradition of bespoke design but has also responded successfully to the needs of a mass consumer market, producing inventive and innovative design projects that are admired globally. Throughout modern times, London has continuously been recognized as a trendsetter in fashion, design, and lifestyle.
As a global center of fashion and design, London is home to innumerable fashion retail chains, design houses, specialized designers, and independent boutiques which proudly showcase creative talent ranging from cutting-edge street fashion to high-end names. Up-and-coming designers work from creative incubators, converted warehouses, and members’ clubs as they strive to create and market their work. While production typically takes place internationally, increasingly specialty manufacturers are making use of local space and talent, proudly advertising their goods as Made in Britain.
British craftsmanship and design have always included much more than garments and accessories. Furniture, furnishings, homewares, and other elements of interior design have similarly flourished.
The online revolution offers micro-producers the opportunity to create customized or niche products and sell these directly to their consumer base, no matter how small or dispersed. E-commerce has facilitated a remarkable growth in the number of independent or “indie” brands, especially in the beauty and lifestyle sectors. The trendiest Londoners now seek out indie designers and producers which reflect their personal ethos and style.
|The companies we work with are mostly small-to-medium sized (not large companies). Learn more here.
Students who choose Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle may be placed in any of the opportunities below. If a particular sub-area catches your eye, let us know on your MyInternship form.
Fashion Labels & Boutiques
London is home to a number of small fashion businesses which produce and sell their own specialized garments and products. These entrepreneurs often have their own boutique or small retail store – which may be attached to or near their design studio – as well as distributing their merchandise to larger department stores, and/or selling their products online. Interns will have opportunities to learn about every aspect of running these small businesses, with tasks including sales and working with clients, managing and merchandising in the physical and online shop, assisting with marketing and PR, and general operations and administrative duties.
Beauty & Cosmetics
In recent years London has experienced a renaissance of new beauty and cosmetic brands specializing in niche, indie products, from cruelty-free face creams targeting new mothers or sensitive skin, to custom and specialty perfumes and luxury nail varnish. British beauty trendsetters aren’t shy about launching their own brands to capitalize on their particular expertise and online followings. Placements can be within a particular brand or company, or a company which promotes or stocks multiple brands. Roles can be within business, operations, communications, administrative capacities or a combination these. Many of these young companies are growing quickly and looking to expand into new markets, giving interns incredible opportunities to learn about business in a fun and lucrative industry.
Interior design companies cater to the thriving and discerning London property market. With some of the highest property values in the world, commercial and residential interiors are designed and refurbished to suit their occupants, from luxury, imported floorings to quirky, on-trend décor or classic, curated furniture. Placements can include a variety of business, operations, communications or administrative tasks and often include a combination of these. Interns in this area gain a unique perspective on the variety and volume of spaces in London.
Incorporating such a variety of neighborhoods and sub-cultures, it would be impossible to define a single, true London lifestyle. Rather, lifestyle brands seek to promote a particular, niche slice of the London or British experience, from heritage sports, luxury design and historic lineage; to rocking and rolling nightlife; or achingly cool and trendy hospitality. Lifestyle brands typically incorporate a range of products and services, often including events, travel and experiences, food and hospitality, merchandise and fashion. Companies may produce their own products, or promote existing goods and services from a variety of like-minded brands. The range of companies and services included in this area means that tasks can vary widely, from events, marketing, and promotions, to business, customer service, and operations, with roles suiting interns with a strong sense of brand identity and commercial awareness.
Fashion Design (XX = Significant Relevant Experience Required)
For students with previous practical experience in designing and constructing garments, there are some opportunities to work with independent fashion designers and boutiques in London. Required skills may include sketching, patterning, cutting, sewing, and tailoring clothes. Placements may also include research, textile selection and organization, and studio management tasks. Students will be expected to undertake administrative and personal assistant duties in addition to hands-on work with garments and patterns. To be considered for a fashion design role, a portfolio is required, typically consisting of design sketches as well as photos of completed garments.
REALITIES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The fashion industry can be creative and fun, but also competitive and fast-paced. Companies in this field expect prospective interns to have academic or previous work experience in the fashion industry as an interest in fashion alone is not enough to warrant a placement within the field. Previous internship experience is desired, though retail experience within fashion is also acceptable.
Despite its glamorous façade, working in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry won’t be as bright and airy as the office in The Devil Wears Prada. Expect boxes of inventory, textiles, and samples to occupy lots of space. All internship positions will be entry-level, and, in order to increase responsibilities, interns must be prepared to work hard and undertake all tasks required of them.
Interns should be up-to-date with the latest fashion in Britain and Europe. For example, American fashion is often several seasons behind European trends, so it is useful to reference British designer fashion magazines.
- Previous academic or professional experience in the industry, or at minimum retail experience, for example selling garments in a shop
- Familiarity with current international fashion trends and knowledge of important designers and design houses
- Commercial awareness and understanding that fashion is about more than just the look
- Specific skills related to the requested area, for example, design students should know how to hand and machine sew, pattern, drape etc.
- Flexible approach to a variety of tasks – including the unglamorous ones!
Relevant academic experience. Applicable majors include Fashion, Merchandising, Arts, Design, Communications, Marketing, PR, and Business.
TIPS AND TRICKS: SHOWING YOU'RE A STRONG CANDIDATE
- List any relevant experience, including customer service, retail and shop floor roles
- List relevant technical and computer skills, such as sewing, pattern cutting, Photoshop, Illustrator, Instagram
- As relevant, provides links to your online portfolio, fashion blog, Instagram, Pinterest etc.
- In your personal statement, describe actions you have taken which demonstrate your interest in the industry – it should be more than just shopping!