Graduate Blog

Fashion Industry Interview with Paul Hayes

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Today we catch up with Paul Hayes, the Senior Menswear Buyer at House of Fraser.

Paul is a graduate who managed to achieve his dream job whilst concentrating on working hard and gaining experience. The UK Fashion Industry directly contributes £26billion to the UK economy so for anybody wanting to work within the fashion industry this is a must read. Many graduates can feel lost after University and doubting whether the course they have chosen will be beneficial to their career advancement.

There is a common misconception within the fashion industry that it is who you know, rather than what you know, that helps you move up the career ladder. However, as you will learn from Paul’s interview it’s about educating yourself on the value of unpaid internships and how these can be a way into the job you want.

Like numerous others, graduates are finding routes into the ultra-competitive worlds of the fashion industry equipped with the tool-kit of qualifications and experience. Standing out from the crowd isn’t easy, especially as more and more people want to break into the glamorous world of fashion. In the following interview, we look at what it takes to break into this world and what guidance he can offer.

Paul Hayes Headshot 2Which university did you attend, and which course did you take?
I studied Fashion Merchandising Management at the University of Westminster, although it was merchandising (numbers) based it covered many sectors of the retail business with a focus being on the role of the Buying Office.

From what age did you know you wanted to work in fashion and retail/design? Why?

I always wanted to work in a creative industry, and I thought it was either fashion or music, both notorious for their difficulty to get into. When I was 16 I didn’t even know what a buyer was so ending up in the career that I am in was a bit of a shock really. I ended up moving to London, as I’d always wanted to and my passion for trends just cemented this decision. I loved what I was learning at University so my career just took off from there. I’m lucky enough to get to play a part in the selection of what people are wearing and working on the guides like these.

How did you land this position at House of Fraser?

Luckily enough I got an internship in the Menswear Buying Office at House of Fraser that lasted for a year, I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of my University though so it was another benefit of the course. It was a fantastic way to network with new people; and I got my head down and worked really hard. This hard work paid off though as I was taken on full-time the week after I had graduated!

What is your working week like? Job roles, the most fun parts, etc.

I need to check sales every single day; and that’s because I need to be aware of both strengths and weaknesses’ this is so I can concentrate on which areas need focus. I’m quite lucky as in every day is different though; Monday’s focus tends to be on sales discussions from the previous week and discussing opportunities and how we can move forward the next week. Dependent on whether or not it’s buying season or not, my role can differ from discussing our brand’s performance and meetings, both internally and externally as well as visiting both our and our competitor’s stores. In buying season I tend to be either at trade shows or in the showrooms selecting the range. The best thing about this job is that every day is different, and it’s really exciting to see what new trends are being pushed out at the beginning of the season in the trade shows!

Do you have any advice for graduates who hope to follow in your footsteps?

Experience in retail is essential. If you genuinely don’t understand how a shop floor works and how stores work and most importantly what customers want then you’re not going to stand a chance moving forward. If you have to work unpaid in a buying office, then this can only benefit you in the long run; it’s all about making these new contacts. It’s vital that you keep up with industry new so read all of the trade magazines to really understand the thinking of the business. Just be the best at what you do and use all of the supporting factors around you to make yourself even better at the job! And good luck!

About the Author

House of Fraser House of Fraser

House of Fraser are the leading, national premium department store group in the UK and Ireland trading principally under the iconic House of Fraser brand name through a portfolio of 60 well-invested stores, as well as through their rapidly growing web-store, and and 1 concept store. The House of Fraser brand is differentiated from other department store groups in the UK by their 160 year history in the UK retail market, their wide geographic reach (across the UK and on-line), their broad range of high quality premium branded merchandise offered at competitive prices, their increasing exclusive House Brand offering and their commitment to providing an imaginative, exciting and relevant shopping experience to their customers.

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