Sam Devlin (SD): So, you want to be a designer, but your parents aren’t so keen. How’d you originally float the idea?
Designer anonymous (DA): When I first shared my dreams of being a designer with my parents it was a goddamn disaster. They asked, “What do you want to do with your life now that you are about to finish school? And, mind you, I was a 17-year-old who loved design subjects, history, art and the day I left compulsory science was the best day of my life, So you’d think that it should come as no surprise that I was not about to declare that I wanted to be a scientist, or an economist or a lawyer.
When I said, “I want to be a fashion designer.”
Dad asked, “What does that mean?” Mum said, “It’s very competitive Darling, what else do you like?”
SD: That doesn’t seem that bad! My parents still don’t know what The Footnotes is…
DA: The conversation actually got quite heated and they tried convincing me to get a general qualification first, just to be safe. My Mum even told me that this was just a ‘phase,’
SD: It sounds like you could have been coming out of the closet!
DA: Haha, that was 2 years later!
At one point through the heated discussion I recall Mum saying, “You would be throwing your life away.” Really? Why would I be throwing my life away? Yes, it is competitive, cut throat, highly over saturated and materialistic industry; but I knew all that, and I still wanted to work there.
SD: What do you think they were worried about?
DA: My Mum has the understanding that when people say they work in fashion, only 10% actually work in fashion, while the other 90% work retail at Forever New.
I’m not saying that my Mum doesn’t believe in me and want the best for me, but it is a hard job trying to explain to her what the 10% do, and why I would be good at it.
SD: During your degree, did you get more support?
DA: One day I made the mistake of complaining about my internship overlapping with my fashion assignment. She told me to inquire about being a waitress at Crown Casino because the pay’s great and the benefits are decent. Quick poll: How many of your parents see so little value in your chosen career that the best option for you would be to fill the glasses of Chinese business men and encourage them to gamble?
Don’t get me wrong, I respect the shit out of those cocktail waitresses, but you’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to be hanging off a blackjack table in fishnet stockings and topping up gin. I’d much rather intern for free. And that’s where I’m at in my life currently.
SD: Are you angry that your parents don’t ‘get it’?
DA: I honestly don’t really blame them, I mean the fashion industry isn’t regarded as the most nurturing of communities by any stretch of the imagination. Long hours and low wages at the cost of an elusive lifestyle.
They [parents] want what’s safest for you, which if you’re not a total fucking nerd, often isn’t the same thing as what they want it to be.
Fashion isn’t safe, it isn’t easy – but it sure as hell isn’t all pretty girls and photo shoots. The business of buying, manufacturing, developing – it’s enough to send my Dad’s engineering brain into meltdown. I am very prepared for how difficult this industry is to crack, but I love the challenge, the unique opportunity to ‘create’ something that people will wear and, I am actually good at.
Let this be the lesson for other kids trying to ‘make it’ in the fashion world, it’s a slow and competitive ride and you may struggle to secure the support of your parents when you jump in headfirst. But I promise once you start to find your professional footing they will slowly change their tune, the industry isn’t what it seems from the outside, and once they learn that they will be as damn impressed with you, as well, you are with yourself for following your passion.