Career & Education

Careers in international fashion

Sunday, June 03, 2018

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The fashion industry is more diverse than the troupes of models and designers usually ascribe, and more profound than the glitz of the catwalk might suggest.

Scores of high school students came to discover that perspective at a recent symposium mounted by SAINT International as part of the fashion house's slate of events for its recently concluded annual Style Week.

Billed as Careers in International Fashion, the event put the spotlight on oft-overlooked areas such as fashion entrepreneurship, retail buying, merchandising, branding and campaign development, and the value of the creative industries taken as a whole.

The morning symposium's presenters, all associated with the fashion and creative industries, were British Council Arts Project Manager Andrea Dempster Chung; Total One Eighty founder and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Edwards; hairstylist, make-up artist and womenswear designer Lisa McIntosh-Aris; Lee's Fifth Avenue Marketing Manager Janique Jude; and SAINT International models Barbra Lee Grant and Jermaine Downer.

Grant is an advertising campaign face for luxury Parisian brand Balenciaga, while Downer, who spoke proudly of going from the inner city of Tower Hill, St Andrew to the runways of top designers in London, Milan and Paris, was recently featured in Vogue.

The six weaved their own life stories into their presentations, including their creative pursuits and the struggles they have encountered in their career journeys; from Janique Jude's yearning desire to return home to Jamaica to contribute to the fashion industry here after graduating from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in fashion merchandising and retail marketing and having worked at London and Miami fashion weeks and interning at Emporio Armani; to entrepreneur Daniel Edwards' transition from selling insurance to becoming an image consultant on the strength of recognising how the power of dressing in suits alters people's perceptions.

The students, fielded from Wolmer's Trust High School for Girls, Greater Portmore High, Papine High, Tarrant High, St Andrew High School for Girls, and Waterford High School, remarked that they were taken with the conversational style of the presenters and the richness of the life lessons.

“It was an entertaining experience and it was empowering listening to the presenter's stories,” said Tashna Bell, a Grade 10 student at Tarrant High.

The 16-year old, who aspires to become either an accountant or chef added: “Hearing where they were coming from and seeing where they are, I understood the importance of staying focused and not letting anyone deter you from what you want to achieve.”

Meanwhile, Christabel Davis, a fourth-form student at Wolmer's, said the symposium had “many good points and life lessons”. “It opened up my eyes about volunteerism when Deiwght Peters spoke about how critical it is for work experience, as it's not always about a pay cheque,” Davis noted.

“I see now that if you're interested in a particular job, sometimes you should suggest volunteering to work without being paid. Everything in life presents challenges but you need to work overcoming them,” the 15-year-old added.

Dempster Chung of the British Council pointed out that the creative and cultural industries is a high-growth sector, earning $91.8 billion a year in the United Kingdom alone and spoke to Jamaica's potential to command a piece of the revenue pie.

She also highlighted efforts, by sustainable fashion campaign Fashion Revolution to transform the industry from the characterisations of exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, and the fast-fashion culture that facilitates the dumping of clothes after a single wear.

The social campaign uses tools such as letter writing, contacting policymakers, organising events, and upcycling or swapping clothes to call for a fairer, safer, cleaner, more transparent industry.

The SAINT International symposium was hosted in the Savannah Suite at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa.

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