Making fashion statements
If you had any doubt that fashion is a truly global business, consider the career of RSM alumna Alejandra Lopez, global communications manager for Tommy Hilfiger Europe. A 27-year-old native of El Salvador, Alejandra (MSc Strategic Management 2012) is based at the company’s world headquarters in Amsterdam, where we spoke to her about what it’s like to work for an international fashion brand.
Story by Bennett Voyles
Did you always want to work for a fashion company? If so, what about the idea appealed to you?
“I’ve always liked fashion and been inspired by the fashion world, but I had not strongly considered a career in a big fashion company. However, when the opportunity presented itself I was very excited by the prospect.”
What does your job entail?
“To develop and manage global communications strategies with a special focus on Latin America, Spain and Portugal. I also manage and support global initiatives across all platforms for those markets, including print, broadcast and online. Additionally, a large part of my role involves managing and supporting on-brand events, including our New York Fashion Week runway show, press junkets, store openings worldwide, and personal appearances by our brand ambassadors.”
What is an ordinary day like for you?
“My days vary significantly depending the season and the projects we are working on. On an ‘ordinary’ day I’m usually connecting with my markets to make sure we are on track with our communications strategies across all initiatives – from reviewing press opportunities to ensuring that the brand is leveraged in key fashion publications, both offline and online.”
Before Tommy Hilfiger, you spent most of your professional career working for Dutch companies. What’s it like working for an American company?
“Actually, our PR team is quite diverse; from French to English, Irish, Dutch, Italian, and Canadian – it’s one big melting pot. So I deal with different cultures every day – that’s one of the things I love the most about my job.”
What are the most challenging aspects of being global communications manager of a major fashion brand?
“One of the most challenging, yet most rewarding, is to successfully adapt each strategy, initiative or event to each market locally while maintaining the brand spirit at the core.”
How is social media changing what you do?
“In the past, PR teams had to think mostly about what would appear in the fashion magazines. Today, we need to plan strategically across a wide variety of media, from print and online channels to fashion bloggers and social media. It’s a big challenge but it also represents a world of opportunity.”
Is it very different from other kinds of public relations?
“Most PRs share the same goal: ensure the brand achieves the desired exposure. That said, fashion PR is quite unique because of the seasonal variations in our product.”
Have any of the courses you took at RSM turned out to be particularly useful?
“All courses were very useful and shaped me into the person I am today – particularly applied business methods, skills (all three courses) and the cross-cultural management courses, which I still apply every day. Also, studying in such an international environment gave me a strong foundation to understand and work with other cultures.”
What does it take to succeed in fashion PR?
“You need to be extremely flexible – our plans are constantly changing – have a pro-active and hands-on mentality, and be willing to work hard.”
So is it what you expected?
“Yes, absolutely. The business of fashion is incredibly fascinating and constantly evolving, especially over the past few seasons. It is an incredible experience to be part of a premium global lifestyle brand. There’s a lot happening, but that’s what keeps it challenging and fun – there is never a dull moment at work and it’s exciting to be part of it.”
Follow Alejandra Lopez on Instagram.