As part of BA (Hons) Fashion Media & Marketing’s 'Unlocking Industry' Week, Topshop Denim Buyer Nicola Steele visited Plymouth College of Art to share some fashion insider advice.
As well as recounting her experience of the industry, Nicola told our students how she made the transition from Fashion Photography graduate to working as a Buyer for one of the UK’s most influential and cutting-edge high street brands.
Second year BA (Hons) Fashion Media & Marketing student Poppy Baker gives us the lowdown on Nicola’s talk...
Nicola began her presentation by explaining her journey; from her childhood to university to struggling to find jobs and work experience, right up to where she is today. As a group, we appreciated the honest approach she took to telling us about her experiences, as it gave us first-hand insight into just how hard it can be when we leave university.
However, Nicola reminded us that with hard work and persistence we can get to where we want to be. She went on to explain in massive amounts of detail exactly what her role contains, and what she does on a day to day basis. She also explained that a job in the fashion industry is not a job, it is a lifestyle.
"Nicola offered us real life insight into how much impact political decisions have on the fashion industry." — Poppy Baker
Nicola’s talk gave us so much in-depth information on what a Buyer does, from the people on her team to critical paths, to how they find their inspiration. She also discussed important aspects of the global economy and current politics, and how they have influenced the fashion industry, both in her experience and more generally.
For example, she discussed how Brexit has caused the price of clothing to go up and stay up, and how Donald Trump’s decision to impose travel bans prevented her and her team from visiting the US for business when travelling with suppliers from banned countries. I found this really fascinating - it offered us real life insight into how much impact political decisions have on our industry.
"Nicola’s talk gave us so much in-depth information on what a Buyer does, from the people on her team, to critical paths, to how they find their inspiration."
At the end of the talk, Nicola gave us some tips for when we leave university and intend to get into the industry. She told us to be prepared for our careers to take time, and not to expect anything as often these expectations won’t become a reality. She also advised us to get as much work experience as possible and really work hard at university, as this will help so much in the future.
Thanks to Nicola for her time spent with our students. If you're interested in studying at Plymouth College of Art, we have a limited number of places available on our degree courses including BA (Hons) Fashion Media & Marketing, BA (Hons) Fashion and BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising & Editorial. Find out more on our Clearing page.