Fashion is portrayed as being a glamourous industry however, after movies such as the Devil Wears Prada is the industry all that it seems? Couturing interviewed New York native Woldy Reyes who has interned at Elle, worked as a Fashion Assistant at Nylon and currently works at 3.1 Phillip Lim, to find out what the industry’s really like.
1. You graduated with a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management. What made you decide to pursue a career in fashion?
The main reason why I majored in Hotel/Restaurant Management was that my family expected me to get a college degree and they have an image of what I should be. But in reality what my family didn’t know was my desire to work and be part of the fashion industry. After graduation I visited New York City as part of my graduation present, I literally fell in LOVE with the city because of its culture and fashion sense! I knew that I had to move to the big apple and try to pursue a career in fashion! I didn’t know what part of the industry I wanted to be in but I knew that NYC was the place to be if you want a career in fashion. So, I made a bold move to move across country from sunny los Angeles to hustle and bustle of NYC!
2. You have worked in various roles at Elle, Nylon, 3.1 Phillip Lim. What are some of the important lessons you have learnt in each role?
I think the main lesson that I learned from ELLE, NYLON and 3.1 phillip lim is not to be an ass hole. The fashion industry is a very cutthroat industry and there are a lot of people in the industry who aren’t nice. I have my fair share of experiences where I have been talked down on and things were said about me that wasn’t true. Through that experiences I told myself I would NOT ever be that person who’s an ass hole! You have to be able to have tough skin in this industry and try not to take it personally! It’s really difficult to try not to take it personally but that is the nature of this industry. You have to get through it and just brush it off your shoulder.
3. The fashion industry is often perceived as very glamorous but in reality it’s really competitive. What are some of the biggest misconceptions you had before working in the industry?
The biggest misconceptions before I entered into this industry is that it was going to be easy to get into. But, it’s hard to get into because there are a lot of people who wants to break into this industry and competition is fierce! When I first moved into the city I knew that I had to have fashion internship experience. So I started interning at different sectors of the industry so I could quickly learn about the industry in a nutshell. Through my internships, I build experiences and relationships with the people I have met along the way. The people you meet in the industry is one of the key components to making it into the industry because they know the jobs that are available and you want to be the first people to know about it and apply for it. You really have to sell yourself!
4. With lots of people competing for the same jobs, what are some of the challenges starting out in such a cutthroat industry?
Again, I think my answer to this would be the same as above! Networking and constantly be persistent. Do a lot of research for the company that you want to work for. Knowledge is power and it will definitely set you apart from the next person. Also, knowing that the fashion industry is an image driven industry you have to look the part! When you do land your first job in fashion, the pay is NOT that great in the beginning and you have to put in all the hours in order to move up! Again, the industry has a lot of people who aren’t nice because of the various personalities and egos you going to have to deal with. Try not to take anything personally and let it pass you!
5. You’ve worked with Joe Zee’s (Editor at US Elle) assistant Annie Ladino and with Kate Lanphear, style icon and Senior Style Editor at US Elle. What was it like working with such successful people in the industry and what advice if any did they give you for surviving in such a cutthroat industry?
It was such an honor to work alongside industry giants because they are the ones who have been in the industry for a long time. I always pinched myself to this day that I gotten to work and assist them on working on amazing projects. The advice that I’ve received was to be a dedicated, loyal and hard worker! The people that I have met along the way in this industry are the most driven and hard worker I have ever seen! Big industry giants pick up on those people who are dedicated to the work that they do and they are the ones who will move up in the career ladder.
6. You often get snapped on the streets of New York. How would you describe your personal style, and who are some of your favourite designers and why?
My personal style is usually minimal with a twist. My style is always evolving, as I get older. I do know what clothes and I like give me a self-boost of confidence and that’s reflected on why street style bloggers take a liking on the outfits I wear. I have a lot of favorite designers. I love Dries Van Noten because of his simplicity, cool and effortless clothes that are well designed that makes me seersucker for everything he makes! I don’t want to be bias but I love Phillip Lim because his clothes is cool, easy and chic and when people wear his clothes there’s this youthful elegance that is being transpired and it’s very inspiring. I love Maison Martin Margiela because of its refined elegance!
7. You’ve had some exciting experience, e.g. meeting Julia Roberts and Adele while assisting on styling assignments. What have been some of the major highlight of your career so far?
I know this might sound cheesy but living in New York City is the highlight of my career! Being able to work and be surrounded with the most talented, inspiring, and creative people in the world is the best feeling in the world!
8. You’ve listed Phillip Lim, Dries Van Noten and Margiela as some of your favourite designers. How do they inspire you from a style and career perspective?
All of the designers I mentioned are my favorite because of their stories that the tell through their collections. There’s always a message the designers put in their collection and its very inspiring. I try to that with the job I do and be able to send a message, a voice to the work I do!
9. You currently work for 3.1 Phillip Lim. What do you love about the company and role you do?
I love the people that I get to work for because we are a young company with a lot of creative ideas. It brings such joy to see how far the company has grown and I’m glad to be part of it. Knowing that 3.1 phillip lim is such a small company, we all have different roles that we do to make the brand a recognizable and coveted brand. We all go above and beyond our call of duty!
10. New York is such an amazing city. Everyone seems to be so fashionable! Given that you work in one of the most stylish cities in the world, and in an industry very focused on image, is there any pressure to look a certain way all the time?
New York City is like a runway and there are millions of people living in it so, dressing up is a norm. It is inspiring to see people so well dressed and it makes you want to dress up too! The key is to dress something you feel comfortable in when you walk down the streets of NYC you know who have style!
11. You’ve had a lot of great experience to date. What are your plans for the next 5 years?
I really don’t know where I see myself in 5 years, which is fine because living in NYC is about living spontaneously. But I do hope I’m someone who’s a prominent figure in the industry! Check back with me in 5 years!