We love Florence and we love internships, so a few years ago we expanded our internship program to include Italy. Interning in London is not too shabby at all, but Italy offers unique opportunities for students.
Alexandra, a fashion merchandising student, talked to us about how she ended up interning with Pucci, assisted in cataloging their archive and wound up working with Ralph Lauren in Fabric Research and Development after graduation.
On her field of study and finding an internship:
At the time I wanted to pursue a career in merchandising, so I was hoping for an internship that would prepare me for that field. All I knew when going to Italy was that the internship would be with an Italian designer, but I did not expect it to be with Emilio Pucci! Although the internship with The Emilio Pucci Foundation was not merchandising, it greatly exceeded my expectations. It introduced me to a field that I was not familiar with – a fashion Archivist. Surprisingly, I found archiving much more interesting than merchandising (and I realized I was good at it too). The most important lesson this experience taught me is that there are so many other important roles in the fashion industry that are often overlooked.
On her daily responsibilities:
I oversaw the organization of Pucci’s historical garments from 1950 to the early 90’s. My main responsibility was to catalog all of the brightly colored and boldly patterned silk garments into their internal database. I had to identify each garment, photograph every item, and enter them all into their system with a detailed description.
On her job search after graduation:
Before I began the process, I set ambitions for myself. I envisioned where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in the fashion industry. I considered positions that were relevant to my degree in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design, as well as my internship as an Archivist with Emilio Pucci. I researched jobs online using various websites (Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.) and maintained connections with my professors and university alumni for job opportunities. I also found it helpful to search for openings within companies that had caught my interest. Excited to begin my career in fashion, I was open to starting with an internship or with a freelance position, hoping it would lead to a full-time role.
When I first met with Human Resources at Ralph Lauren, they mentioned how my internship experience abroad stood out to them from all other applicants. Originally, I applied for a position as a Merchandising Assistant, but due to my interests and experience handling luxury fabrics, the hiring manager believed I was a better fit for the Fabric Research and Development department.
On her position at Ralph Lauren:
At Ralph Lauren, I support the designers on all fabric research and development needs for men’s outerwear. This information is obtained in design meetings that I attend throughout each season. I am responsible for sourcing fabrics that meet our brand’s aesthetics, while interfacing with vendors and mills both domestically and overseas. Our team is a large piece of the puzzle of the end product that sits in all Ralph Lauren stores worldwide. And of course another part of my job entails being the sole archivist for the men’s fabric library.
On how the internship prepared her for her job:
My role at Ralph Lauren entails being hands on with high quality fabrics on a daily basis. I learned the skills, techniques and overall understanding of fabrics essential for this job through my internship with Emilio Pucci. This internship opportunity was my first experience handling fabrics and it gave me the organizational skills needed to achieve my current position as well.
Don’t hesitate; take any opportunity you can get that will help you grow and prepare you for the future. I know that the idea of working for a company in a foreign country may seem intimidating, and you may feel overwhelmed, terrified and excited all at the same time. But the best advice I can give you is to be confident! Listen and observe as much as you can from your supervisor as this will benefit you tremendously. Above all, treat this opportunity like a full-time job and be punctual, professional and engage in the work because you never know if this internship could lead to a full-time job.
And don’t forget to enjoy the moment and have fun, because this may (will) be the greatest journey of your life!
See photos of the permanent archive now housed at the Pucci country estate in Tuscany and read more of her interview on our website. Thinking of interning abroad, in fashion or another field? See all of our internship opportunities here.