Have you ever wanted to know which trends and looks would be hot before they even happened? This summer, I learned all about next spring’s hottest trends for young women (Tip: Be on the lookout for very girly, lacey feminine pieces and lots of soft bohemian prints and fabrics).
I interned at Appareline Incorporated, a wholesale women’s apparel company in New York’s garment district. As an avid shopper, I thought I knew the retail industry, at least from an informed consumer perspective. As it turns out, I knew very little about the tremendous planning and strategic development that took place before a product reaches the shelves.
Urban Outfitters is a primary client of Appareline, and being a fashion-conscious teenage girl with a slight obsession towards Urban Outfitters, I could not have found a more interesting client to work with over the summer. After all, I am their primary demographic. As a Sales and Marketing intern, I attended trend-analysis and development meetings, wrote reports, and negotiated transactions with buyers, I also made several trips to Urban Outfitter’s headquarters in Philadelphia to discuss product refinement with buyers before pieces went to production in factories in China and India. I was introduced to the complicated business of fabric selection and pricing.
As a shopper, this was my most disappointing discovery. The discrepancy between the cost of the clothing and the retail price was almost absurd. I can no longer look at the price tag on clothing the same way. In one example, the buyer wanted my boss to make a women’s jacket that would retail for $99 but delivered to Urban Outfitters for $17. Crazy margins.
The garment district proved to be full of surprises, and I was able to learn about an industry most girls my age are oblivious to. My next goal is to find an internship as an assistant to a buyer at a well-established retailer, so that I can learn the business from both the fashion and business perspective. Do you know of other industries with such high margins?
– Jenna Link