When BA(Hons) Fashion Media and Industries alumna Felicia Toh graduated from junior college in 2017, she knew that she wanted to work in fashion, but was at a loss as to how to go about it.
“To be very honest, the glamorous side of fashion – from runway shows to the rich heritage of fashion houses – are strong factors that heavily influenced my decision to pursue fashion,” recalled Felicia. “But at the same time, fashion seemed so distant for an 18-year-old girl with no experience in this field and no knowledge of how or where to start putting together my portfolio for university application.”
LASALLE trained me to take on multiple big projects concurrently and approach fashion both creatively and from a business perspective. I took on the role of an art director, photographer and stylist for various semester-long projects, whilst exploring the business side of fashion such as branding, marketing and public relations for my final year project.”
It was her time at LASALLE that helped to channel Felicia’s passion towards a clearer direction. “LASALLE trained me to take on multiple big projects concurrently and approach fashion both creatively and from a business perspective. I took on the role of an art director, photographer and stylist for various semester-long projects, whilst exploring the business side of fashion such as branding, marketing and public relations for my final year project.”
These hands-on experiences, as well as opportunities to rub shoulders with industry professionals such as fashion practitioners, magazine editors and brand creative directors ultimately led to internships with Shiseido and Christian Dior Couture, where Felicia’s hard work was rewarded with an offer for a full-time position in public relations and communications for the luxury brand. Her day-to-day job responsibilities include working on PR strategies with Dior’s regional team for Paris headquarters, pitching paid and organic editorial content to press, strengthening press, celebrity and key opinion leader relations, managing local and international shoot loans as well as executing print, out-of-home and social media advertisements for campaign launches.
All this is a far cry from the 18-year-old for whom fashion seemed a distant dream. We asked Felicia to look back on her journey in this competitive industry, as she reflects on what she learnt managing massive industry projects as a student, the power of networks and why one should not be afraid to start from the bottom.
What convinced you that LASALLE would be the best place for you to start your fashion journey?
I felt that LASALLE has established itself well in the creative industries and has a strong and extensive network. The college also offers vast opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations with internationally renowned practitioners. The flexibility to go on a semester-long overseas exchange to dive deeper into a specific area in fashion was another key factor that contributed to my decision – so LASALLE was easily my top choice for university in Singapore.
My classmates and I had the privilege to be part of multiple industry projects throughout our three years at LASALLE with the support of our lecturers. We had opportunities to exhibit our work and speak with industry professionals at exhibition openings. There were also curated lectures with guest speakers from the industry and field trips to luxury brand events to learn about their house codes and heritage. That really set the bar high for us to explore ideas that might seem too far fetched to be practical.
Furthermore, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in established global competitions, such as the Creative Conscience Awards and the Red Dot Design Awards, with which I am thankful to receive recognition for my final year project.
You mentioned that prior to university that you were not sure about what aspect of fashion you wanted to pursue. How did your time at LASALLE give you clarity?
My overseas exchange experience helped to cement my interest in fashion marketing. My first year in LASALLE offered some exposure in this field, and that led me to apply for an overseas exchange with Falmouth University, specialising in fashion marketing. I truly enjoyed the whole experience, from the content covered during my time there to the inspiring individuals I was fortunate to cross paths with.
The knowledge gained through this exchange programme widened my understanding of marketing and equipped me with essential skill sets to successfully secure an internship with Shiseido’s marketing department.
You were also the student curator for the inaugural edition of #SGFASHIONNOW, the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) annual exhibition on local contemporary fashion. Looking back, how was the experience for you?
#SGFASHIONNOW is definitely a project to remember! I had to juggle this rare opportunity to curate a show at the ACM with my final year project, and it was not the easiest journey. I like to believe that through this experience, my classmates and I learnt vital skills in maximising our time and managing our schedules which prepared us for the fast-paced fashion industry after graduation.
We were fortunate to be able to work so closely with the curatorial team at a renowned museum and access restricted areas that were previously not open to students or the public. Our lecturers and the ACM curators were very supportive throughout the journey and open to our ideas shared at every meeting. It enabled us to truly inhabit the role of a curator and be involved in the project from start to finish.
The project also received extensive media exposure, and I had the chance to step out of my comfort zone and field both print and radio interviews. These were all new opportunities I never thought possible and am eternally grateful for.
< Felicia fielding questions in a video for ACM’s Instagram page.
Other than time management, what other skills from your studies have been useful as you’ve carved a path in the industry?
Taking the initiative and the agility to adapt to any unexpected situations. The hard skills I picked up, such as using software like Adobe Xd, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and After Effects are extremely relevant for my first two jobs at aesthetics clinic SW1 and Shiseido, as the marketing job scopes were design-centric.
I feel that having a background in design further cultivated my attentiveness to details which is applicable in all jobs.
Any final advice for prospective students looking to work in the fashion industry?
I know it can be daunting to break into the fashion industry. Unlike many of my peers who had a headstart in the industry even before entering LASALLE, I did not have any coming from junior college.
I started off as an intern at Dior after graduation last year, and while an internship might not be part of most graduates' plans, I strongly believed in trusting the process because passion and hard work have the power to open up new opportunities you might never have imagined."
I started off as an intern at Dior after graduation last year, and while an internship might not be part of most graduates' plans, I strongly believed in trusting the process because passion and hard work have the power to open up new opportunities you might never have imagined. I knew that I wanted to establish my career in PR for a luxury fashion house, so I made the most of my internship to maximise my growth in this sector.
Set a realistic time period for yourself – this helps to push yourself to achieve more during your internship. Most importantly, stay humble and true to yourself. Be open to learning and accepting feedback. Give every task assigned your 101% – hard work will pay off.
Lastly, network and meet new people. You never know who could be your next team member. LASALLE is a great place to start – I have crossed paths with numerous seniors and juniors in the industry from LASALLE and it is always heartwarming to connect.
'What happens after art school?' is an ongoing series that follows our alumni's work/life after LASALLE. Other instalments:
#1: Miso Choi on how LASALLE set her on the path to Harvard
#2: Eunice Khoo on production managing Marvel films
#3: Nikhil Amarnani on starting his own recording studio
#4: Tan Wei Xiang on taking the time to build your portfolio
#5: Kiat Tan Wei Jie on not stressing over the destination