I WORK IN FASHION — THIS IS WHAT I REALLY DO, PART 5

by: Alicia Chua

Sure, working in fashion is fun, but it's not always parties, shopping, fashion shows and all that glam stuff. In this series called "I Work in Fashion — This is What I Really Do", we spoke with individuals working within the fashion industry and uncover the truth behind the often glamorous facade.

Most of us are probably unaware a job title like Indoor & Window Responsible exists, but these are the people in charge of store displays and visual presentation, deciding what's appealing enough to draw in consumers like you. And even though their job scope tilts a little towards retail, it's not always fun and games, as Nur Hanisah, H&M Indoor & Window Responsible for Singapore & Malaysia, explains to us.

I WORK IN FASHION — THIS IS WHAT I REALLY DO, PART 5

When you mention your job title, what do people assume you do?
From the designation alone, the assumption would be that I am in charge of the garments and props that go into the shop window display. People will just say, “So you're the one who decorates the shop window! But what do you do when the window is finished?”. When I tried to explain the thought process and preparation that goes into a window setup and collection launch in the store, they would be surprised at how much work is put into a window display they pass by everyday.

In reality, what does the job actually require you to do?
I am
responsible for applying the H&M global visual merchandising guideline in order to maximize selling within the country. The guidelines range from window composition to indoor presentation of the entire store. It’s my team’s responsibility to ensure that the stores look exciting and inspiring with the latest fashion for our customers. One day I can be adjusting the styling for the next H&M Men’s summer campaign, and the next I could be going from store to store in Singapore or Malaysia to ensure the they're maintained at the highest standard. I also work with an incredible team who bring their own experience and expertise to deliver the best results.

I WORK IN FASHION — THIS IS WHAT I REALLY DO, PART 5

That sounds like it'll chalk up a packed schedule. How would you describe a typical day at work?
There’s never a typical day; everyday is different and that’s why I love my job. From preparing new collection information and disseminating to the stores, to visiting stores ensuring garment presentation, windows, campaigns and activities have been updated and executed well. Most of the time I work closely with other departments like merchandising and marketing.

Since there are so many aspects to the job, what would you say you enjoy most about your role?
Seeing the latest collections first and deciding how to present them in the stores, working on incredible projects like our designer collaborations and, most of all,
the people that I’m working with. The multinational environment gives me a broader experience working with people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially when I travel or work with colleagues from different parts of the world. You get a chance to learn about different cultures and perspectives as you experience diversity over time.

And also, what is your least favourite part of job?
What’s visually ideal is not always possible to execute as we have to work cross-functionally and take into account what is best for the business as a whole. That is sometimes frustrating from a purely artistic point of view.

 

I WORK IN FASHION — THIS IS WHAT I REALLY DO, PART 5

Personally, what do you feel goes into a good shop display?
A good shop display has to catch the eye of a customer within three seconds. A window is a 24-hour advertising medium and for this reason we want to produce inspiring and exciting windows that make our customers stop, look and decide to shop with us!

Typically, how much creativity do you and your visual merchandisers have?
Our visual merchandisers usually have global guidelines of the key trends and garments to display. But at H&M, we can adjust the way we style our mannequins to suit our warm tropical weather. During the “winter season”, usually mannequins will be dressed in winter boots and thick knitwear which is a little too hot when the weather is 30 degrees outside.

The visual team has to adapt, whether it’s removing the coat and replacing it with a light cardigan or totally removing beanies and scarves off the mannequins. Another fascinating aspect was when we opened our 26th store in Kota Bharu, Malaysia. We learned that the culture and customer profile is more conservative; hence our visual merchandisers had to tweak the styling of the mannequins in the window to be more appropriate.

 

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