CP Note: We are proud to introduce and publish the work of very own CP intern, Kristina.  Fashion intern Kristina gives her thoughts on her experience of flying to Milan and attending the prestigious trade show Milano Unica 2019.  

This summer I have the privilege of being a Fashion Design Intern for luxury fashion production company Plus Samples, based just outside central London. This small company has been in London for over twenty years and is a full-service production studio offering a range of services including developing pattern pieces for garments, cutting, and sewing. Some of the luxury brands that source their quality work include Erdem and Viviane Westwood.

Specifically, my role as an intern is to design textile prints and evening wear for the clients of their brand new private label titled That Perfect Dress. Their unique platform is centred around made to measure dresses for their clients as well as having them be a part of the design process by letting them select their fabrics and work directly with the designs to create their dream gown. Since the company intends to offer such a luxury service, they need to source the finest fabrics from around the globe, and this is where I come in…

Exhibitions from Milano Unica Conference

Before my Fashion Internship

In preparing to come to London, I received an email from my boss asking me if I would like to travel to Milan on her and the company’s behalf to Milano Unica, a highly coveted textiles and accessory conference set in the fashion capital of Italy. As an aspiring Fashion Designer, I did not hesitate for a single second on my answer, beaming with joy that I would be lucky enough to be exposed to riveting and first-hand knowledge of the future of the fashion industry for Autumn/Winter 20/21.

In Preparation for Milan

Travelling on your own is such a unique experience that makes you feel more confident and independent, especially when it is a trip focused around work. Having the ability to do this at a mere twenty-one years old has been very insightful. There were a plethora of items on my to-do list buzzing through my mind: printing airline tickets, booking the Airbnb, getting all the necessary business information for my boss, and the most difficult but fun for any fashion lover, what to wear!

What one will also learn from travelling is that it can and will be quite stressful until you arrive at your destination, but there is nothing you can do but go with the travel flow. After navigating one of the busiest stations in England, Victoria station, swiftly buying a train ticket and then finally arriving at London Gatwick Airport early, only to find out that I would be experiencing about two hours worth of delays. 

I had a bit of nerves as I would be arriving past dark and would have to navigate myself through the airport, train station, and metro in a country where I did not speak the language to reach my accommodation. This is something you never want to happen, but you should always anticipate when travelling, embrace it, trust yourself, and do not be afraid to be self-reliant as it is all a part of the experience. 

Exhibitions from Milano Unica Conference

First Arrival in Milan

Fast forward all the travelling details as I made safely to the accommodation, which was located about fifteen minutes outside the centre of Milan and a twenty-minute metro ride from the conference. It was truly the best of both worlds as it was a more residential and family-oriented neighbourhood, which gave me exposure to a completely different side of Milan however, it was close enough to the city centre to see some of Milan’s greatest attractions. 

The Airbnb hosts greeted me warmly and gave me tons of tips and a giant map pinpointing where to explore after the conference each day. Exhausted but exhilarated, I headed to bed anticipating two life-changing days. 

Exhibitions from Milano Unica Conference

Exhibitions from Milano Unica Conference

Milano Unica: Day 1

The conference was an incredible whirlwind which sucked me in and I never wanted to leave. The massive exposition centre was buzzing with buyers from apparel companies from every corner of the planet. I devised a plan to spend the first day looking at all the open exhibits including colour forecasting, trend forecasting, and sustainability updates and the second day to select all the fabrications. 

Right at the entrance was a wall that seemed it stretched on forever with fabric mood boards from every company showing at the exhibition. I analyzed each one, feeling the luxurious fabrics, analyzing printing, dyeing, and weaving techniques used, and finally taking note of the companies that peaked my interest on behalf of TPD. As one board blended into another, I had my first epiphany for upcoming print and colour trends including a deep palette made of terra-cotta orange, dark teal, merlot but then starkly contrasted my metallic fibres of all colours, silver, and pastel pink and blue. Finally reaching the end of the wall two hours later, I headed to a complimentary all you can Italian lunch. 

Eat a Little, Learn a Little

They say you eat your heart out when you go to Italy and that is certainly true. An array of fresh cheeses and freshly cut meat, a colourful salad bar, two types of freshly handmade pasta, and a dessert bar filled with every Italian pastry under the sun made my mouth water and heart melt simultaneously.

Post lunch the rest of the day was spent attending the three trend forecasts for the season as well as looking at some very intriguing advances in textiles technology and sustainability. My favourite find was fiber optic fabric which has fiber optic threads that are hooked up to a single LED battery pack and illuminate through sheer crystal organza. 

Exhausted from walking around the conference but determined to explore Milan I headed back to my apartment to regroup and then out in the area surrounding where I was staying tilted Fiera City. Walking these streets made me forget that I was in a major metropolitan city as there were children playing in the plethora of parks around and couples young and old out dining or just enjoying the beautiful day. It was truly a surreal moment getting to blend in with the locals.

A wall of sustainable innovation

Exhibitions from Milano Unica Conference

Milano Unica: Day 2

The second day of the conference went by in the blink of an eye as I spent the entire day locating all of the vendors and selecting the fabrics. Initially, I was very timid communicating with the sales representatives, as I was only an intern and every company sends their top fabric research and developers to these events; however, after receiving warm welcomes, I warmed up to my charming, bubbly self and navigated the day successfully. 

My task was to source the finest of silk fabrics as well as silk blends, wool, lace, and other fabrications used for evening wear. I made some great connections with the mills on behalf of That Perfect Dress as well as a few for my personal future career in the industry.  

At lunchtime, I networked with a lovely Italian woman who used to work as a merchandiser for Louis Vuitton and was now employed as a fabric researcher and developer for an embroidery company. She gave me a lot of insight into the European fashion market, the global fashion supply chain, and topped off the conversation with a bit of wisdom in regards to my budding design career. 

Another connection I made was with an Italian fabric mill who has an office in the garment district in NYC, close to where I go to college and am from. Upon learning I was still a student, the sales representative gave me all the contact information for that office and added that have no minimums orders; therefore, I could potentially order fabric through them for my senior collection in the upcoming year. Having them be my last vendor of the day to visit, I left the conference with my head high and a smile from cheek to cheek.

Exhibitions from Milano Unica Conference

Race against the Clock in Milan

With my time running out in Milan, I raced back to my apartment and used the nearby metro to take me into the city center. Coming out from it, I was greeted by the beautiful Duomo with the sun illuminating every beautifully crafted detail of it. I buzzed all around the area popping into luxury designers stores to expose myself to new fabrication, design details and have a bit of fun trying on some high fashion. 

Following a main road, I found a nearby hub which was restaurant row, which made my decision of where to eat quite difficult. A quaint restaurant on the corner which overlooked another stunning cathedral is where I decided to go and once again enjoy a wonderful carb-loaded Italian dinner. 

Returning back to mine, I packed up the majority of my belongings as I had an early flight out the next day, reminiscing about my brief but incredible time in Milan. Waves of gratitude and appreciation came over me as I realized how lucky I truly am to be so young and have so much exposure and insight into the fashion industry before I am even employed. And before I knew it, I was boarding the plane back to London, flying over and waving goodbye to the breathtaking city that took my breath away. 

Milan

Milan

Final Thoughts

Travelling on your own makes you a stronger individual: I feel more grounded, wiser, and that I can travel to any corner of this planet that my heart desires. I am definitely missing Milan but I know that it was not goodbye, just ciao for now. 

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