Image credit: Aimee Song
It is often said that ‘Introversion will harm your fashion career.’
After all, fashion is known for its late night parties, endless networking opportunities and flamboyant personalities. Does the thought of this make you want to run and hide? I once had these same thoughts…
As a result of believing this stereotype for many years, I was sure that the fashion industry just wasn’t for me. However, this all changed once I gained a deeper understanding of what introversion really is and that I don’t have to pretend to be the life and soul of the party.
The author of The Introvert’s Way explains how introversion is less about disliking social situations, and more about the energy one gains or loses while around others.
What does this mean? Put simply, extroverts recharge their energy within intense social situations, whereas introverts depend on alone-time. It’s not that we don’t enjoy being around people, it’s just equally as important for us to spend quality time alone. In my experience, networking and confidently communicating have been central to my fashion industry successes so far, having gained amazing opportunities and starting my own fashion podcast.
Yet, being aware of my own desire for space has been even more empowering – here’s why:
You’re more self-aware
Because I’m aware of my own introversion, I dedicate time in my week to do nothing but think. Whether it’s 10 minutes in the hallway with my Headspace app, or a stroll alone at lunch, I make extra effort to be conscious of my mind and body.
You take the time to listen
When I need a break from social interaction, but I’m in a social situation, I just sit back and listen. As much as people enjoy jokes, I think they enjoy someone who listens even more.
You notice the little things
Because I take space for myself at work, I often notice small errors that get overlooked by others. Whether it’s a tiny error on a spreadsheet or missing samples, being quiet and observant can save company cash in the long run.
You can cope with isolating work
As a fashion intern, I often ran errands around London alone – all day. I had fun doing this, whereas the extroverted interns found the work incredibly frustrating.
You’re less likely to burn out
Some industry professionals go to parties six nights a week, I choose to attend a selected few instead. As a result, I show up to the most important events on my A-game. With the extra nights per week, I can even make time for side projects and other interests.
You come up with better ideas
When I’m quiet and alone, I always come up with my best ideas! When I was on the plane from Vancouver to London a few months ago, I devised the concept for my podcast, Fashion Originators.
You can relate to ‘non-fashion types’ in the office
As fashion and technology continue to merge, the fashion office and the tech office have also merged. Through working in fashion-tech, I have found my introversion useful in communicating with people who aren’t uber-social fashionistas.
You can see the bigger picture
Instead of getting caught up in office gossip, introversion has allowed me to focus more on the bigger goals of my career– rather than unnecessary cattiness that could land me in trouble.
You’re more selective with friends
Because I’m selective in who I choose to spend time with, I have built deeper friendships as a result. While it’s great to network and have a lot of acquaintances, my real friends have been the most helpful in advancing my career. (Love you guys!)
You ask better questions (when you do talk – of course)
As a product of being observant, the questions I ask are smaller in number but deeper in nature. In having this policy, I’ve found that my bosses really listen whenever I do ask a question.
While I find these points empowering, I want to make one thing clear – extroversion and introversion aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘harmful’ or ‘harmless.’ Rather, it’s self-awareness that has allowed me (and many others) to thrive within this crazy industry we call fashion.
Words by Stephanie Irwin