The Fashion Business Management Program trip to London was by far THE best school trip I’ve ever been on! The five-night, six-day-long itinerary allowed us students to not only learn about the fashion scene in London, but also gave us the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the city!
Day 1: Upon arrival to London City Airport, we were given seven-day unlimited tube passes to use for the duration of the school trip. We then took the tube with our chaperones to get to the hostel which was near Oxford Circus. Once we checked in at the hostel and settled in our rooms, we met up again in the lobby to visit Liberty London where we were left on our own to do independence research on visual merchandising, customer service, product assortment and marketing strategies. Liberty has become my favorite department store in London ever since because of its oriental architecture, the floral concept and the products.
Day 2: The second day began with the “Undiscovered Royal London Walking Tour,” during which we explored the Buckingham Palace, Green Park, and the Westminster Abbey by foot! During the tour, I learned so much about the history of the Royal Family, especially about the life of King Henry the VIII who had six wives during his lifetime. After the walking tour, we took the tube to Brick Lane Market and Spitalfield Market where we were given time to eat lunch and wander on our own. These markets are the reasons why London is my favorite city in Europe – I was able to fill my tummy with all different types of cuisine from Indian, Ethiopian to Burmese! Aside from offering a great variety of food at a reasonable price, these markets also sell clothes, accessories, souvenirs and vintage pieces. I can personally spend hours browsing through them! The day ended with a visit to All Saint’s flagship store where the students learned about the operational aspects of the retail store.
Day 3: It was a big day for us because we attended PURE London Trade Show! The day began with a WGSN Exclusive AW 16/17 Buyer’s Briefing where we took notes on upcoming trend predictions. After the briefing, we had to interview a vendor from the trade show in a group of three to learn more about the brand and the selling process for the sales management assignment. My group had made an appointment with a sales manager from an Italian accessories brand called VODIVI’. Our appointment went really well since we were given so much information by the sales manager, Gian Luca, who also extended us an invitation to visit the production team of the company in Umbria, Italy! After our appointment, we spent the rest of our time at PURE watching catwalks and attending industry seminars. Needless to say, PURE gave us a taste of the wholesale side of the industry. After PURE, we visited Harrods, London’s luxury shopping emporium, for individual research.
Day 4: The students were divided into three groups for the day since we had MANY industry appointments scheduled. My group went to Selfridges first thing in the morning for individual research once again. I had been to the department store before during the evening time when the store was super packed so it was a change to see the store so empty in the early morning. I admired the store windows outside as I daydreamed how fun it would be to have the priviledge of curating Selfridges’ windows one day!
After Selfridges, we headed out to our appointment at a concept store called Jigsaw on Duke Street. I personally had a hard time understanding the concept of the store during the appointment but its aesthetics felt like Club-Monaco-meets-Urban-Outfitters due to its clean, sleek career clothing mixed with trendy lifestyle products and a coffee shop. After Jigsaw, we went to our appointment at the WGSN headquarters. There, we met a client specialist who explained to us the creative and analytic services offered by WGSN. I learned that there is more to WGSN than fashion – it also forecasts trends in other industries. It was nice to have been able to witness the open work environment and learn about the company. Afterwards, we went to our last stop, Dover Street Market, for individual research. Upon arrival, we were requested by the security to go inside the store five people at a time. Although the staff felt very cold, I find the creative concept of the store to be very intriguing, and the store has the best edit of products with out-of-the-box visual merchandising. My friends and I also made a stop at Victoria Beckham’s flagship store right across the street. We were in awe with the store’s interior design and were impressed by the customer service. I’m so glad to have visited the store since Victoria Beckham is one of my industry idols! (#PoshSpice) After a long day of industry appointments, my friends and I spent the rest of the evening crossing the Abbey Road over and over again in attempts to recreate the Beatles’s famous photo.
Day 5: The last day also did not disappoint. In the morning, we visited the headquarters of Beyond Retro. Beyond Retro, I learned, is a leading vintage retailer in Europe that sells vintage pieces collected from rag houses. The company also has its own brand called Label, which recycles old clothes into trendy vintage clothing, also known as up-cycling. Beyond Retro has such a unique identity, and it was great to see that there is a company like theirs who is pioneering a new retail scene and are not afraid to be different. After Beyond Retro, we went on a Bermondsey Street Fashion Heritage Walking Tour with a historian named Mr. Stephen Humprey. During the tour, we learned about the neighborhood of Bermondsey, hats and leather factories. Afterwards, we went on another guided tour inside the Fashion and Textile Museum for the “Liberty in Fashion” exhibition.
Day 6: While some students returned to Florence with the chaperones early in the morning, many continued on their own trips for the five-day weekend. Some of my friends went to Ireland and others to France. I instead stayed in London with my boyfriend to enjoy the city at a slower pace, and also made a road trip to Oxford!
I feel very inspired by the creativity, the humanity and the FOOD that I encountered during my time in London. I hope this diary gave you a glimpse of the FBM academic program abroad! I’m glad to be back at home in Florence but I cannot wait to return to London! A presto Londra!