A course in Fashion Buying was just the starting point for graduate Elaine Culhane who recently took up a role with Pennys (Primark).  Citing her Moms personal love of fashion and her own early retail experience in luxury department store Brown Thomas as the starting point for her love of fashion, a career that brought both creativity and business together was the ultimate goal, so last year she set about getting the right training in order to get one step closer to her dream job in fashion.  Elaine kindly took time out of her busy working day to have chat with us about her passion for style and studying fashion buying and merchandising.

Why did you choose Fashion Buying and Merchandising as a career?

An interest in fashion was always inevitable for me.  Growing up I was influenced by my Mom who has a great eye and a keen interest in fashion herself, however it was when I started working in Brown Thomas on Grafton that I really got sucked in.  Getting seasonal buyer’s briefings on the latest emerging trends and learning about new fabric technology was so interesting and confirmed for me that pursuing a career in fashion was what I wanted to do.  I chose the course at Portobello Institute as I knew it was a reputable college and that the tutors are the best in the business with many years experience in the fashion industry themselves. 

What elements of the course did you enjoy the best and what is your dream job?

I enjoyed all elements of the course but in particular I loved learning about trend forecasting and planning a range from the off set.  Learning about the garment industry and retail operations has definitely given me a better understanding of how buying for a fast-fashion retailer works. Being able to apply the practical knowledge taught in class has been a huge advantage.  The holistic approach that the college has to this course gave me a great foundation for many elements of the job.  My tutor Anne Marie’s abundant knowledge of the fashion industry along with a wealth of experience made for a killer combination in the class room.  I genuinely really want to listen and try and soak up as much information as I  could. Thanks to the continuous support and guidance from Anne Marie during my time at Portobello Institute I was able to interview armed with the best tips and advice in the business, ultimately leading to my dream job as a trainee fashion buyer in a fast fashion, multi-national company (Pennys).  Without Anne Marie this dream would not have become a reality.  My long term goal is to become an established senior buyer or maybe get into retail consultancy, who knows what the future will bring but at the moment I just want to learn as much as I possibly can. I am lucky to have secured a job in Dublin as many have to travel to the UK or further afield to obtain roles in fashion buying.  I am happy where I am at the moment as there is plenty of opportunity for me to progress, it is just up to me to make that happen.

Who is your style inspiration and what Irish celebs do you think are style leaders?

Olivia Palermo and Blake Lively can do no wrong in my eyes.  As far as Irish celebs style go I am a big fan of Vogue Williams, she always looks great.

Do you follow any bloggers for inspiration and who are your thrift and splurge retailers?  

I’m not big into blogs but I like to follow Erica Fox aka Retro FlameAnouska Proetta Brandon has a great fashion blog too. When shopping for myself  Penneys and Zara are great for basics and on-trend pieces.  Splurge wise, I'll treat myself to something from COS.

Finally, would you recommend the Fashion Buying course to others trying to start out and what would you advise new learners when looking the right course?

Definitely, it’s a great opportunity to learn from the best and meet like-minded people. The fashion industry in Ireland is small so it’s a good way to start building relationships; you never know where you will meet people again.  I would advise new learners to look for a college with good tutors so that you can be sure you’re getting the best advice. Also ensure that that the college can meet your needs if you’re working full time, whether it’s a flexible payment plan or part time learning Portobello Institute can offer both of these.

To find our more about our range of Fashion courses please call Angelina Shaddadi on 01 892 0031 or why not come along to one of our open days.