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Haoyang Zhang

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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the author looking at her laptop in a fashion store
I used to think that having a different opinion than my colleagues would hurt our working relationship, but in the fashion industry, it is well understood that new ideas and multiple perspectives can only strengthen a project.

I have heard a lot of people saying that Vancouver is a city without fashion sense.

There is no doubt that Vancouver has beautiful mountains and amazing views. But compared to fashion giants like Milan, the fashion industry in Vancouver is still in its infancy. If you carefully observed the pedestrians on the street, you might find that yoga pants and windbreakers are the “must-have” items for everyone in Vancouver. 

As a student who has been surrounded by the different colors of jeans and university sweatshirts for the past few years, getting involved in the Fashion Industry in Vancouver was obviously an exciting opportunity. In my two terms working at Leisure Center, I have gotten to write product descriptions for their online store, modify product content pages, and help with copywriting to promote events and products on different social media platforms. Leisure Center is an up and coming, conceptual brand that aims to explore new techniques and styles and integrate high fashion with everyday wear.

Like most people, before I started working in the fashion industry, I imagined that it would be just like “The Devil Wears Prada” with everyone looking so chic all the time, wearing fancy clothes, going to fashion shows, parties, and events constantly. Not quite…. It turns out that’s just a movie, albeit a really good one.

If you are curious about how it feels to work in a creative team or you are interested in the Vancouver Fashion Industry, here are a few of the biggest takeaways I had from my time a Leisure Center.

It’s Ok to Speak Up. 

It can be intimidating to speak up and offer ideas in front of your supervisor and boss, not to mention if you disagree or have a difference of opinion with them. When you’re new to the workplace you usually want to be the good employee and avoid conflicts with colleagues. But in work, and the fashion industry especially with so many creative personalities, you have to collaborate and accept that everyone has their own vision. In this situation, it is inevitable that you will be presenting new ideas and opposing opinions. I used to think that having a different opinion than my colleagues would hurt our working relationship, but in the fashion industry, it is well understood that new ideas and multiple perspectives can only strengthen a project. If you always stay silent, how will your supervisor ever understand your potential? How would they know that you are capable of original thought or that you could bring new ideas to the table?

“Snap Out of It” When You Feel like Your Ideas Failed.

As a member of the creative team, proposing ideas for promotional copywriting is always anxiety inducing. There is a lot of pressure to come with ideas that will attract eyes and customers. When I was just starting, sometimes I spent several days working on one copywriting project for promoting new products, only to find that once it was published on social media, only a few people interacted with the post or bought the products. I lost confidence. It was hard to snap out of my disappointment, but I could only try to learn from the failure and do better next time. Fashion trends change fast. You won’t always be lucky enough to get the perfect timing needed to create a successful promotion. You must accept the things you cannot change and learn to work around them.

Be Active in Learning New Knowledge to Produce Interesting Ideas.

As a new company, exploring new services, products, and techniques to attract customers is an especially important part of the process of innovation. Otherwise, how would new companies be able to compete with large luxury retail corporations like Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom? In this age, where fashion trends change at the drop of a hat, smaller brands must constantly be innovating and coming up with unique ideas that will differentiate their brand from the massive corporations that dominate the retail industry. As such, a lot of time and work goes into researching and studying new brands and trends. Having to constantly learn new things about the industry can be tiring and stressful but working under a bit of stress can improve your work ethic. And the stronger your knowledge of the industry, of what has succeeded and what has failed, the more likely you are to come up with some great, marketable ideas.  

Manage Your Spending.

Tempting as it may be to buy all of the beautiful clothing around you, you have to resist! When you’re new to the fashion industry you have to remember to keep calm.  Look at your credit card bills and account balance, and don’t put all of your money right back into the company, think about the future of your bank account. You’ll thank your past self.

This has just been a short glimpse into my experience working in the fashion industry. I hope you have gotten some understanding of how a communications co-op student can thrive in this massive industry and contribute in the efforts to get clothing from the warehouse to your closet!

About the Author

Haoyang Zhang

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Connect with Haoyang via LinkedIn, or on her Instagram.

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