I’m back guys and I survived a month in the jungle! If you haven’t read any of my previous blog posts then you wouldn’t know that from the 14th July until last Wednesday I had been in Thailand and Cambodia on a trip with the charitable organisation World Challenge. It was the best experience of my life, but there will be many blog posts to follow about that very soon.
In between the few days I had when I was back from Munich and before I flew out to Bangkok I didn’t have the chance to blog about my weeks work experience as a Visual Merchandiser, this only occurred to me while I was away. So with no time like the present let me tell you about it.
As I already work for the fashion company H&M and am looking to move into the fashion industry in future it seemed only logical to get some experience in of a different side to the business that I don’t normally see. So in late June this year I went to the Bullring H&M store for four days and worked with the Visual Merchandisers team. If you don’t know what the job of a visual merchandiser is, its their job to make sure that a store looks inviting and interesting to customers and passers by. They are behind the windows, the mannequins, even the way the clothes are matched in colour order or style. Its a big job and requires a big team at a store the size of the Bullring’s which is on three floors which is why on my first day I was introduced to at least ten different people who were all visual merchandisers in the Birmingham store.
After getting up at quarter to 6 in the morning and catching the train into New Street Station at 8.30am I was ready to start. A mixture of butterflies and excitement I ducked under the metal shutter which was half open to let the staff in who start work before the shop is open. I met Grace and Dan who where to be my main mentors/managers for the week. Grace is head of all six of the massive window display’s the Bullring’s store has and Dan is head of Divided the section of H&M which is aimed at teenagers and young adults.
Firstly I was shown around the many store rooms, visual rooms, and staff area. After that because it was monday me and Grace when and inspected all of the windows to see if there had been any sell outs on the weekend that needed to be swapped for another item. We realised that there were some sell outs of mens t-shirts, kids items and some in the everyday window but this last window did not matter too much as it was undergoing what is known as a refresh the next day. A refresh is where you change the outfits on the mannequins in the window but still keep the the same theme as before. The theme at the time was called Cafe Gitane and was a mixture of yellow tones, denim, stripes and nautical themes. The looks in the windows of H&M looked like this.
After we had made some minor changes to the kids and mens window it was time to pick out five new outfits to put into the window the next day. This is harder than it looks it took us a long time playing around with all the different combinations possible before we were completely happy. The main focus was to be on the middle mannequin which had a big white, denim, midi skirt and a yellow shirt. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the finished window but it was a different variation of the picture above.
When I got into Birmingham on my second day Grace was already in the everyday window piecing together the looks we had created the day before. So I joined her. You can’t just put the clothes of the mannequin and walk off with Visual work its a lot of the little details that pull a look together, you need to pin in the clothes to make them fit better, brush, style and hairspray the wigs and most importantly accessorise correctly. After one window was done it was time to move onto the Divided Black window. The theme of this one was High Summer, a festival sort of look. We picked out different pieces that would fit the look and then Grace let me have a go at style all five looks myself. With only a few changes Grace went ahead with what I had picked out I have to say i felt really proud, the completed window looked like this;
I unfortunately had to miss a day of work experience as I was visiting Manchester Met uni for their open day.
On Thursday I was still working with Grace however we weren’t in the windows we were in the accessories department today. We rearranged a whole wall of necklaces, we had to move a section of shoes from the wall to another part of the store. It took hours but we slowly organised the necklaces into a colour coded and shape order. When that was done we started on three jewellery towers in the front of the accessories department these towers were going to show off the newest stock which had just come in for summer. again we used a colour coded system with the left tower being gold, the middle a rose gold and pink colour and the right being silver. You needed to always keep stepping back form the towers to see if where you had put a pack of rings was in the right place and if now not be afraid to change it around again.
Far too soon it was friday, my last day. I was late in due to train delays, such is life! But when I got in I found out that it was Dan that I would be working with that day. We were still in Accessories today but I had moved onto the bags, scarfs and hats. Dan gave me a free reign to create six different matches and combinations in store. This could have been, two big bags on the left and right then a selection of clutch bags in the middle, hats on top of the big bags and then scarfs underneath the clutch bags. That was one of the six combination I created. It took me my whole shift as it was so tricky to get the whole look of one side to match in with each other, as they are supposed to be complete ideas of what you can accessorise a whole outfit with.
And then alas my week was over in the blink of an eye. I really enjoyed working with the Visual team and trying something different and new. I would very much like to gain more experience in visual merchandising as soon as I can.
Hope you enjoyed this post, later in the week I will start my multiple blogs on my trip to Thailand and Cambodia