Styling It Out

talks to boohoo.com’s head stylist Kate Holroyd about fast fashion and 2013’s hottest summer pieces

kate-holyoyd

Since 2006, boohoo.com has been at the forefront of two major emerging trends, offering a potent mix of fast fashion and online retailing. Fast forward nearly half a decade later and there are few people in the developed world who would think twice about ordering clothes online. Nowadays modern consumers are both price and trend savvy; they demand affordable and on-point clothes and accessories. Plus, with the majority of fashionistas feeling the recession bite harder than ever, boohoo.com is the ultimate destination for any young woman who wants to dress themselves in all the latest trends without breaking the bank. Simply clicking on the website’s ‘new in’ section as I write, I am rewarded with a huge selection of highly covetable festival-ready crochet tops and tie-dye dresses at prices I’d be hard pushed to find on the high street, and certainly not without considerably more effort on my part.

But sometimes so much choice can be overwhelming, particularly when you can’t try before you buy. That’s where Kate Holroyd comes in. As boohoo.com’s Head Stylist, it’s Kate’s job to show the customer just how great they can look wearing their product. Scroll down the website and you’re bombarded with smiling models rocking cool combinations that are just begging you to click ‘add to basket’, and it’s Kate’s job to mastermind the styling behind every image. Her role also includes working on the ‘creative’ shoots, which are mini editorials showcasing the boohoo.com brand. It’s a demanding and relentlessly fast paced job, but when I heard from Kate it’s also a whole lot of fun.

“Every day is so exciting and varied,” Kate exclaims, “I love being able to see all of the new trends before they hit the high street, and the creative shoots are also a fantastic opportunity to work on.” Getting first dibs on all the latest styles aren’t the only perks though; Kate admits “it’s not just all the clothes I’m surrounded by all day that make the job so fun, it’s the people too.” Sat at home in our pyjamas scrolling through the website, you never really think about the crew that has to work behind the scenes to bring you image after glossy image, but for Kate it’s a dream job.

Describing her typical day as a boohoo.com stylist, Kate explains “when I first get to the studio, I’ll spend maybe an hour pulling a rail of clothes bearing in mind the model I have for the day.” Keeping the model as a focus is in important part of the styling process is key, as is thinking of the wider picture: “I think its important spend time assessing what will best suit the models’ frames and personality when prepping a rail of clothes, and which accessories will be needed to make a plain outfit that little bit more sensational for the camera.”

All this happens whilst the average student is still in bed, it transpires, as Kate goes on to explain how she goes on to “style outfits from the rail, in time for the models and the makeup artists to arrive, which is usually by 10am. By 11 we’ll be ready to start shooting!” Despite the early start, Kate’s work has only just begun. She tells me “we can sometimes shoot nearly fifty different outfits in a working day, which all include a catwalk run.” Even then there is no time for a Head Stylist to rest on her laurels. “At some point in the afternoon I’ll find out which model I have lined up for the next day,” Kate clarifies “so I have time to seek inspiration and do some research!” Even then she can’t let her guard down for a moment, “sometimes last minute projects or creative shoots will pop up and I need to fit the models within that same day” says Kate, adding “the spontaneity adds to the excitement.”

For research and inspiration, Kate looks to whatever is popular in the fashion world right now, helping boohoo.com tap into the sartorial zeitgeist. Currently, Kate has a particular muse in mind: “At the moment, my biggest source of inspiration is Cara Delevingne! There will nearly always be a Cara Delevingne eyebrow or hair reference on the mood board; we love how fun she is.” 2013 has certainly been the year of Cara so far, and for girls who want to imitate her style without the designer freebies, boohoo.com is a great place to start.

To get to where she is now, Kate had to graft hard right from the start. As every job market hopeful knows, it’s all about experience, and Kate was determined to get it. “I was looking for work experience in the fashion industry and was offered a full time job as a sample coordinator which was based in the boohoo studio in Manchester, so I was really lucky.” But Kate knows it wasn’t just luck: “it took a lot of hard work and persistence! I started by asking to assist the stylists on shoots, and a few let me.” Getting your first break isn’t exclusive to jobs in the fashion industry, and Kate imparted to me some great tips to help any prospective intern stand out. “This is definitely important to do for any new job,” not just fashion related ones” urges Kate “work your way up by assisting, and make yourself available to help with anything, whether it be big or small: it will be noticed.”

Don’t ever think assisting is beneath you, seems to be the message, everyone has to start at the bottom. “Once I’d gained enough experience from assisting, I was allowed the responsibility of covering some stylists when they were away.” As her responsibilities increased, so did her ambition: “After about eighteen months, I applied for a stylist position, and got it!” So keeping at it and making yourself useful are key, but Kate also has one last gem to impart. “So it’s also really important to put yourself out there to get noticed, but make a good impression” warns Kate “you’ll be remembered for being really good, or terrible!”

Wrapping up our conversation, I realised it would be positively criminal not to get a professional stylist to give some hot insider tips on what to invest in for the coming months. “I’d definitely invest in a pair of boyfriend fit jeans,” Kate suggests, “and team them slightly rolled up at the bottom with a low heel.” Fashion is looking after your feet. “Honestly, try low heels over sky-scraping ones this summer! You won’t regret it,” she enthuses. Finally, she confides “I also love eye-catching statement necklaces at the moment– they’re the perfect accessory, as they’ll make even the oldest and plainest t-shirts or shirts fresh and exciting, and are perfect for work wear.” Looking at the photo boohoo.com sent me to illustrate this piece, it seems that Kate is a woman who takes her own styling advice, and to great effect. Kate agrees that clever and confident acccessorising is key, and this edition Nouse has hand picked the cream of the crop for you.

If you like the sound of Kate’s job and fancy a career with Boohoo.com, check out their careers page.

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