Hey there, I’m Lea! I’m currently a second-semester senior at Chapman University, majoring in strategic and corporate communication, with a minor in creative and cultural industries. As a communication student, internships are an essential part of our studies. They allow us to gain real-world experience and put the skills we learn in the classroom to the test. I’ve always been interested in fashion- sewing and brainstorming designs in my free time, but like many of us, I was hesitant to pursue it as a career. I had heard over and over again that the fashion industry is difficult to break into without connections or a lot of money. However, after spending three years in college studying communication, I realized that I could use my skills to pursue my passion. As a result, I secured an internship at Form Department, a full-service fashion development and design firm in downtown Los Angeles.
My role as a Fashion Development intern entails assisting in various areas such as creative direction, product development, sampling, manufacturing, graphic design, and web development. Since Form Department is a small business, I work closely with the team three days a week in office. Although I was initially overwhelmed and knew very little about the fashion industry and the product development process, my supervisor, Courtney, has been an amazing and patient teacher. She has walked me through the company’s practices and shared her passion and extensive experience in the industry. I learned about the product production process, which includes consulting, quoting, pattern creation, sampling, adjustments, grading, fabric sourcing, purchase orders, vendor communication, shipping, local manufacturing, invoicing, and finally, packaging.
My responsibilities vary depending on our current projects, but my main focus is outreach. I’m in charge of finding potential new clients for our white-label athletic wear line through social media. I use email campaigns, lead generation, and communication with influencers and talent management agencies to find people who would benefit from working with us. I schedule calls or in-office meetings to get them in the door. In addition to communication with clients and outreach, I also communicate with vendors. Many of my errands include ordering fabric or trim from local vendors and picking up them from dye houses, printers, graders, and factories.
Throughout my time at Form Department, I have learned so much about the fashion industry. It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, but with its rapid growth comes ethical concerns such as mass production and over-consumption. That’s why I’m proud to work for a company like Form Department that values sustainability. Our manufacturer is located in DTLA, which is only 10 minutes from the office. We visit the factory daily to do first-hand quality control and personal pickup and drop-off. By using local manufacturing, we are reducing our carbon emissions, and it makes communication much easier. The factory we work with complies with every state law and the USA standard codes for employee rights and workplace safety. Each of our pieces are cut to order to reduce waste, and we use many sustainable fabrics that are Bluesign certified and made from recycled materials.
Getting to work for a company that has such strong values and does such impressive and interesting work has been a dream come true. I’m so grateful to my boss and coworkers for making my experience at Form Department so incredible. I’ve learned so much about the industry and all the work that goes into fashion design, development, and production. I hope that by sharing my experience, I can inspire others to follow their passion, just like I did.