This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Walter Little, COL ’19
I would like to start this reflection by thanking Career Services and their various donors for their financial assistance this summer. Without my stipend I would not have been able to accept my dream internship with Thom Browne Incorporated, a luxury clothing company based in New York. Thom Browne’s stunted male silhouette and his otherworldly creations for women have placed him at the vanguard of New York’s fashion scene. He is the recipient of multiple CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Awards and his company has grown substantially in recent years. The brand’s estimated $100 million valuation is evenly split between American, European, and Asian markets. The designer has an intense focus on menswear, tailoring, and textiles and had never had an intern from the University of Pennsylvania. It took months of networking and emailing to receive an interview, but thankfully I was afforded the privilege to work for such a prestigious designer.
The internationality of the brand is reflected in its New York office’s workforce. The workforce is evenly balanced between Korean, French, and American-born employees in addition to other nationalities. Working alongside people from different walks of life toward a common goal allowed my internship to not only be a professional experience, but a cultural one as well.
During my time at Thom Browne I assisted the sales team. Being that the sales team is relatively small for a company of this magnitude they are also tasked with handling merchandising, personal relationships, international consumer preferences, strategic pricing, and brand identity. They are also trained to recognize product elements such as repeated motifs, construction details, and fabric sourcing, as they are often the first and only point of contact for retailers. To adequately assist the sales team, I was trained as a jack of all trades and was expected to exceed in multiple areas. My self-starting attitude was an asset to me, as there was very little hand holding at this fast-paced internship. I was entrusted with a lot of responsibility very early on and frivolous mistakes could produce serious repercussions. This pressure reinforced my already meticulous approach to my work.
My duties included preparing for buyers meeting during Paris men’s fashion week, communicating daily with both international and domestic clients to process and execute seasonal orders, managing a 6,000+ item inventory database, and inspecting Thom Browne retail locations to ensure that in-store merchandising is consistent with the brand expectations. I also participated in on-site buyer and retail associate trainings at retailers such as Barney’s New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Dover Street Market New York. Through this internship, I developed and enhanced numerous skills at once.
I intend to bring what I have learned from this internship back to the University of Pennsylvania and apply it to my various marketing courses, extracurricular activities, and work study. My time at Thom has fortified my passion for this field and I will now approach my duties, both academic and professional, with a new perspective and drive.