Pavani visits Antwerp Fashion Week and comes home with tips about jobs

An article written by Pavani, ambassador of Young Patterns

Antwerp Fashion Week is a two-day event where showrooms open their doors for retailers who want to do their shopping for the next season. Dieter Deceuninck, the organiser of Antwerp Fashion Week, wants to give the sector a boost again with this event after the disastrous year 2020. When Young Patterns asked me to write a report on Antwerp Fashion Week, I was very enthusiastic. I love writing and fashion. It seemed as if this was written on my heart. In this article you will find a short report on my experience that day and some job tips from Dieter.

I was supposed to go on Sunday 18 July and Monday 19 July to report back, but since planning is not my strong suit, I was only able to go on Monday. The plan also included getting up early so I would have enough time to see most of the showrooms. Unfortunately, getting up early was too good to be true, so I settled for the afternoon.

The first showroom I visited was Studio Fishbone as it was closest to the train station. With an Antwerp Fashion Week flag to mark the entrance, I walked into a neat, tastefully decorated showroom. A young woman greeted me kindly and directed me to the owner of the studio, Nick Laurent. He greeted me at the top of an imposing stairwell and had a pleasant conversation with me.

As it was already late in the afternoon, I decided to go to Showroom Noire next. There I would have the best chance of meeting Dieter. Young Patterns had asked me to talk to him about commercial job opportunities for young people in the Belgian fashion industry, hoping to share some tips with you.

When I got there, the fashion show of Les Deux, a Danish menswear brand that arose from the chance meeting of two very different people who found each other in a common goal, had just started. The label has a very inclusive and inspiring vision of fashion. Their motto: “Opposites spark opportunities. Embrace difference.” (Fashion United 2021)

Later, I also followed the show of the emerging brand Second Female. Which turned out to be a very interesting experience. I felt like I was on a film set, which was in stark contrast to my daily life. It was quite exciting. The male models had a good audience consisting of the other female models cheering them on, armed with cocktails, alongside the more subdued shop representatives. I must admit that I was a little distracted by the whole event and its flair, which made me forget that it was actually about the clothes.

After the show, Dieter spoke to me. He took me to the bar to discuss what I had come for. I explained a bit about Young Patterns, who we are and what we want to do, and then explained the reason for my visit: to report on the event and inspire other young people.

I started the conversation by asking him to tell me more about commercial job opportunities in the fashion industry. The company Dieter works for – Fashion Brewery – is a wholesale agency that helps mid-market luxury brands to gain a foothold in the Benelux market. To do this, they have many sales people who help them find new customers and increase their visibility.

When I asked him what the company values in new employees, he told me that Fashion Brewery is looking for a killer instinct:

  • “You either have it, or you don’t.”
  • A certain amount of passion is also needed.
  • That all-consuming drive and will to make a difference in the world.
  • Some background experience in sales is also highly valued.

It’s a tough world to start in, though, because for an agency like Fashion Brewery to take on a junior salesperson is both an investment and a gamble. The learning process takes about a year, and in that year the company usually loses money on the junior or just breaks even. For this reason, they do not accept placements for junior sales professionals. The cost to the company is just too high.

However, Fashion Brewery does take on marketing interns and gives them a lot of freedom in their learning process. They are given a number of projects and the space to work these out in their own way.

“The best way to learn is to be thrown to the wolves,” according to Dieter. “This way you might fail, but you will definitely learn.”

I also asked if he had any advice for young people who want to get started in the fashion industry. He told me:

“Focus on what you are good at. If you are a designer, design and try to outsource the rest. Commercialism remains the core of the business. It’s something you need if you want a broader vision as a designer. If the clothes you design don’t sell, there’s no point in having a nice website or shop.”

That day re-energised me, and made me realise that these are the kinds of things that make me live. Being immersed in new impressions, meeting inspiring people and having incredible vibes.

Are you feeling inspired too and would you like to know more about jobs in the sector? Then watch our webinar on ‘the ten most common jobs in the industry’.

Would you like to get in touch with Dieter for an internship at Fashion Brewery? Send us an email and we’ll give you his contact details.