February 2, 2016, by Carla
The Unexpected Avenues of Modern Languages
By Andrew Scott, Head Fashion Buyer at Infinities
Foreign modern languages were a revelation to me at school. They opened up a whole new world of learning, and provided a sense of accomplishment I had never before experienced through the core arts and sciences. It was therefore a natural progression to make modern languages a central part of my further education at university.
While the obvious career opportunities I explored – and even undertook in some capacity straight out of university – were in translation and interpreting for an international company, the combination of subjects I took at university have served me best in my career as a menswear fashion buyer at Infinities, which takes me all over Europe.
I have to confess, I never imagined that my degree in languages would lead me to the career I have today. It just goes to prove that languages can open up a lot more avenues than you might expect. This is something I am keen to express to those currently studying languages and also those considering to embark on such a qualification.
A fashionable family
Having grown up around fashion retail, with my parents being successful in the men’s designer fashion market, I guess it was inevitable I would eventually get involved in the industry – and I’m very happy I did. Primarily, I am based in our head office in the UK, where I control buying budgets, monitor sales from both online and in-store, forecast and plan for upcoming seasons.
When it comes to buying season, however, – of which there are four per year – I am fortunate enough to use my French, German and Italian on a regular basis. I frequently visit Paris, Berlin, Milan and Florence to attend buying appointments and trade fairs. For me, this is the best and worst part of the job. While I love visiting other countries, meeting new people and broadening my cultural knowledge, the travel and the long hours can be difficult and at times stressful, especially when faced with unexpected situations like delays and major strikes in unfamiliar countries.
The language of success
Although most people speak good English in fashion circles, it always amazes me how communicating with suppliers in their mother tongue enables me to engage with them on a much more personable level. People undoubtedly appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to learn their language and have the confidence to use it in a business situation. It really does enhance commercial relationships, which is essential for any successful business.
So there you have it. While a degree in modern languages might not seem like the obvious route in to the world of buying, it has in fact served me extremely well in my role as a menswear buying director.
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