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A Fashion Stylist on e-Commerce: Meet Viviana


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This interview was originally posted on LinkedIn by Pedro Marques, Photography Post-Processing Workflow Analyst at Pixelz. It has been reposted on the Pixelz blog with permission and slightly edited.

I met Viviana in 2010 at Farfetch, when I was an image retoucher. We were both born in the north of Portugal and Viviana for me is a perfect representation of northern Portuguese women: practical, used to getting the job done, and done well.

Viviana has a background in costume design and fashion was always her biggest passion. Her journey into being a stylist started in 2004 when a friend in a photography course asked if Viviana could produce her editorials. Four years later, she started working with more photographers and styling for national and international magazines. In 2010, Viviana started working at Farfetch as a stylist assistant and within a few months became a stylist. Currently, she is a trainer for e-commerce stylists at Farfetch and has certainly become a master in her field.

In 2016, I left Farfetch but kept many friends, including Vi, as she prefers to be called. Today working at Pixelz I deal with many diverse clients and many of them use stylists. I decided to ask Vi a few questions!

  • Which labels or designers do you personally like the most?
    Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta, Rick Owens, Margiela
  • Which labels or designers do you find more challenging or laborious for a stylist in an e-commerce studio?
    Y-project, Ann Demeulemeester
  • Which labels or designers have surprised you the most in the last 2 years?
    Jacquemus, Balenciaga, Ganni
  • Which labels or designers make you sad they don’t exist anymore?
    Not a brand in particular but Karl Lagerfeld for houses like Fendi and Chanel
  • Which individual designers have gotten famous in the last 5 years and are selling well online?
    Cecilie Bahnsen, Ganni, The Attico
viviana

Pedro: Who was Viviana in 2010, in 2019, and now after the pandemic?

Viviana: In 2010 Viviana was a woman trying to connect herself in several aspects of her life, mainly the professional one, mainly because at the age of 30 I was doing freelance jobs.

In 2019 and I was already working at Farfetch for 9 years, doing what I love, the start of a pandemic brought new challenges at all levels. I felt that I grew as a person, mother, professional and human being.

I discovered a new me and started developing new skills and improving soft skills that are quite important in my role as a trainer, mainly because I deal every day with different people and it’s important to know how to adapt. So, today, I'm the same Vi (the name that everyone calls me) with fringe and red lips, even with the mask but with improvements.

Nowadays, more and more we need to reinvent the way we work. We’re both from Northern Portugal, which characteristics do we have that might help us cope with this?

People from the north of Portugal are quite authentic, generous, true to themselves, and genuine. We are also hard workers and we tend to help everyone even when no one asks us for our help. We are also good at adapting to new things because we love a good challenge and also we love to prove that we are good at anything.

As a professional, what have you learned from being a fashion stylist working for e-commerce? What did you access to working for an e-commerce brand that you didn’t have access to working as a freelance stylist?

E-commerce is in the new age of buying, so regarding learning skills and developing my knowledge was a whole new level.

E-commerce is in the new age of buying, so learning new skills and developing my knowledge allowed me to enter into a whole new level. I also learned about product manipulation and how to inspire the final customer to buy not just the uploaded piece that I'm selling, but the whole outfit.

viviana

You are used to having access to different high-end fashion brands. A question I've always had is: where is the balance between honoring the genuine idea of the creator (fashion designer) or the “hard” line rules from the label. Is this even more complex and do you need to count on other factors to deliver good e-commerce images?

The perfect relationship to deliver good content to the consumer is to have the perfect balance between the brand DNA and the company DNA

Nice point! The perfect relationship to deliver good content to the consumer is to have the perfect balance between the brand DNA and the company DNA. That means that I need to respect the brand aesthetic regarding details or colors used in that specific season, but at the same time I need to have in mind who is the customer that will buy that brand or that item, what brands can I mix, among other details that are crucial to honor both sides of the coin.

viviana

What defines a good collection of images for a fashion retailer?

The one that catches my eye and makes me want to buy it or see it in more detail, that inspires me.

When you interview a stylist applying for a position in e-commerce high-fashion styling, what specific questions do you ask?

  • Brand knowledge is important to understand if they know the market and they’re updated about the creative directors, etc;
  • Which magazines or digital content they use to search trends, street style, or other relevant news regarding fashion;
  • If they follow people of interest like celebrities, fashion icons or influencers and/or specific Instagram accounts about fashion;
  • I also do a quick assessment where they need to comment on some photos regarding proportions, color combinations, fitting, brand pairings, etc. In that way, I have an idea of their vocabulary, taste, and knowledge

Today you are the mentor and trainer of many young stylists. How did it start? Is there a lack of specialized training in general?

It started after I came back from my maternity leave. I spoke about the desire that I had of changing the course of my life, without leaving the styling team, but working directly with people, as a voice, as an experienced person in fashion, and my knowledge about the company. Then I took a CCP (Certificado de Competências Pedagógicas - Pedagogical Skills Certificate) so I could teach classes both in and outside of Farfetch. And this started my new journey.

When we speak about e-commerce, in particular, there is very little specialized training and I think it isn’t enough, especially now that a lot of people are searching for work in this area. But, the overall perception I have is that we are on a good path.

In Pixelz we work with some big fashion brands, but we also work with some smaller ones that don’t use stylists or use them only once in a while. If a small fashion brand is struggling and considering whether they need a stylist or to get their stylists trained, what advice would you give to the smaller brand? And to the individual stylists as professionals?

Everyone wants to make it big, so go for workshops, be «digitally speaking» hungry for newness and knowledge, use social media to show your product and create a team that is truthful and lives the values of the brand.

Having people with different backgrounds could bring something fresh to a brand which could be super interesting and valuable for a small brand. It’s important when a brand already has a team, they keep them up to date, they learn all together as a team and everyone has a space to share their viewpoints. Everyone wants to make it big, so go for workshops, be, digitally speaking, hungry for newness and knowledge, use social media to show your product, and create a team that is truthful and lives the values of the brand.

Regarding individual stylists, never give up! Show how capable you are!

Now for the future. A kind of provocative question. How do you see e-commerce styling in 10 or 20 years’ time? Do you think you will be using new tools such as artificial intelligence to help you be more productive or even more … “creative”?

Every time I think about it, I imagine myself as half-human, half-robot (just kidding…)

The Digital era is changing, growing, developing new things (Portuguese phrase: "Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades", meaning "times change, wills change"). Human beings adapt themselves so quickly that I believe in 20 years artificial intelligence will be a big tool, hopefully not as a replacement, but as helpers.

But, creativity, that is something that belongs to us people and not to machines. And that’s why it is so valuable.

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