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What It’s Really Like To Be a Fashion Editor

New York Fashion Week is in full swing, and we’ve got all the juicy deets—straight from StyleWatch Magazine’s Fashion Assistant! In the midst of attending multiple runway shows, StyleWatch’s Ashley Kiely met up with us for an exclusive interview, sharing backstage NYFW secrets, her advice for aspiring fashionistas, and her experiences with just how fast-paced the fashion world can be. 

At 26 years old, Ashley has built up an impressive resume within the fashion world. In fact, her current position at StyleWatch is the result of years spent interning, freelancing, and networking.  While studying Strategic Communications at Elon University in North Carolina, Ashley interned at several well-known companies from Allure to Vogue. Um, can we be her already?

Growing up, Ashley was always certain that she wanted to pursue a career that involved something creative. She vividly recalls an archive in her childhood home, comprised of various fashion magazines from Teen Vogue to Seventeen. As she got older, she started reading magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar. With a growing interest in fashion, Ashley took a journalism course, where she discovered a love for the journalism/communications sphere.   

Ashley’s first internship was with Allure, working within the publishing department and interacting with the marketing and advertising teams. Shortly afterwards, she landed an internship at Michael Kors in PR. Although this was her second internship, Ashley admits that both companies helped her to acquire a more well-rounded perspective of the fashion world and how it operates. “Seeing editors come in, understanding how their stories work, and then having the opportunity to work at Michael’s show in September was amazing,” she explains. Interning at Michael Kors also gave Ashley her first fashion week experience, a dream come true for any fashion-lover. “That was my first fashion show and being able to work the front of house was really exciting. Seeing everyone coming in, people that I’ve admired in the industry for a long time—that was a wonderful experience,” she recalls.

 

Yaaassss @cushnieetochs #NYFW #FW16 #cushieetochs #stylewatch #stylewatching @stylewatchmag

A photo posted by Ash (@ashmkiely) on

After interning at Michael Kors, Ashley had a brief summer internship with Vogue before landing a full-time, paid internship at StyleWatch. Ashley describes her ten-month internship as an “amazing learning experienc,” enhanced by encouraging staff members and hands-on activities—from going to appointments to attending fashion shows.

Following her internship at StyleWatch, Ashley was hired at Self Magazine as a freelancer in the fashion department. At that point, she accumulated experience as a market and style assistant. She also had valuable experience backstage at fashion week, assisting models, and writing for various websites. Later, she began working full-time at Self Magazine, assisting the Senior Fashion Market Editor. When she left Self, StyleWatch was hiring, and Ashley took the opportunity. “A lot of the old team was there from when I interned, so I interviewed, was hired, and I’ve been there ever since,” she explains.

For over a year and a half, Ashley has been working as a Fashion Assistant at StyleWatch. Her day-to-day responsibilities include administrative work and covering the lingerie, loungewear and shapewear sections of the magazine. She also plays a role in putting together street style pages, along with merchandise that readers can purchase in order to achieve a similar, affordable look.

In the weeks leading up to New York Fashion Week, Ashley finds her schedule filled to capacity with different tasks. “For us, Fashion Week starts a couple of weeks early. We’re requesting tickets, creating schedules, and making sure everything is in order so things run smoothly,” she says. Her other responsibilities include setting up market appointments at showrooms, planning out stories for each StyleWatch issue and making note of the trends for the season, based on what’s going down the runway.       

“I would definitely say that Fashion Week is one of my favorite parts of the jobs, but also going on those market appointments—getting to touch and feel the collections and meet the designers is an amazing part of what I do,” Ashley says. For the past few days, Ashley has been busy attending countless NYFW runway shows and putting together pieces for StyleWatch. “I love the rush of running in between shows,” she adds. Of the shows she’s attended so far, Ashley shares that Banana Republic’s presentation was one that stood out. “It’s great for StyleWatch because we are definitely a magazine that mixes the high and low price points. The collection was beautiful, the styling was so well done, and it was hard to pick a favorite look because I loved them all,” she says of the collection. And for college women on a tight budget, Ashley suggests mixing and matching clothing from stores such as Banana Republic and Zara (while indulging in more expensive clothing once in a while) to keep outfits fresh.

Aside from Banana Republic, Ashley’s favorite outfits came from the runway shows of Monse, Marissa Webb, Milly, Zimmermann, Rebecca Minkoff and Herve Leger—just to name a few. Ashley’s personal style is one that is especially influenced by New York City street style and classic Hollywood looks. Her style icons include Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, while the ’60s remains a favorite decade.

While going to fashion shows is glamorous and exciting, Ashley admits that there’s more to the fashion industry than what the public sees. “There are definitely more glamorous moments, and I’m very proud to be a part of it and to work in this industry, but it’s a lot of hard work and there are a lot of days of running around, unpacking boxes for shoots and getting ready for run-throughs. But overall, I love it and I think you have to work hard in order to be in this industry,” Ashley says.  

Are you hoping to land a job in the industry? Ashley warns that it’s an extremely fast-paced world. “It’s something I knew going in and was prepared for. You’re constantly learning how to improve on a daily basis,” she says. But don’t let the fast pace discourage you! According to Ashley, being successful in the fashion industry is all about balance and prioritizing. “I’m a list-maker. I prioritize and it keeps me focused. It’s a much more efficient and effective way of working,” she adds.

Trying to break into the fashion industry may seem like a daunting task, but it’s possible to succeed, and Ashley is proof of this. “Definitely start with an internship. It’ll give you great experience and a network of people who will be there for you.” Sometimes, getting that big break might involve stepping out of your comfort zone, but Ashley strongly suggests taking advantage of any chances. “Don’t be shy about letting people know what your goals are, and what you want to do. No matter who you’re talking to, let them know that you’re interested—you never know who will have the key to an opportunity.”   

To catch a glimpse of what it’s like to work in the fashion industry, be sure to follow Ashley on Twitter and Instagram!

Olivia Singh is currently a senior at Hunter College in New York City, majoring in Media Studies. Her concentration is Journalism and she is a Pop Culture Blogger for HerCampus.com. Music, movies, television, and pop culture in general are her areas of expertise. She’s that one friend who knows just about every detail of the latest news story in the entertainment world. Close friends rave about her storytelling skills, so she can only hope that other people will enjoy her writing as much as she enjoys telling a good story. When she isn't scrolling through her plethora of social media sites, she can be found cuddling with her cat, playing the piano, obsessing over boybands, or eating a cupcake.
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