One of the things I find exciting about the business of fashion is that it’s truly a global business. A mid-level executive can easily rack up 50,000 miles a year in domestic travel visiting accounts. But the big-time miles are done by upper management – they are the ones who are gone three weeks out of the month visiting customers, factories, trade shows, and the such.
A fashion house comes out with six collections a year – Fall I, Fall II, Holiday, Cruise, Spring I, Spring II/Summer. A great deal of work goes into getting these collections into the stores. Think about this, for just one collection, fabrics have to be chosen and samples created, then shown to retailers, made into clothing (production), shipped to the distribution center, sent to the stores and finally bought by the final consumer. I haven’t even mentioned the marketing aspects… and another huge monster, the financing of fashion.
Think about how much travel goes into making all this work. Everything has to happen seamlessly and time management is key. If there’s a factory in Germany making suits and you have to visit a knitting mill in Italy, you are not going to fly to Munich, come back to New York and then go back to Milan two days later. Now throw in the factory in Germany, the mill in Italy, a new fragrance launch in Dubai, new boutique openings in Hong Kong and Tokyo, and finally a personal appearance at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus store. Oh, did I mention all in one week?
Can you imagine what your body is like when you finally drop yourself into your bed in New York? You are not only physically exhausted, but mentally too – you are making important decisions while you’re on the road. You have your game face “on” with your clients and customers, while handling the day-to-day business back home in your hotel room at night. Then you have the changes in global climates – snow in New York, freezing rain in London, desert heat in Dubai, winter cold in Tokyo, spring weather in Los Angeles and finally, back to snow in New York. Remember, this is all in one week! All these things going on and to top it all off, the fabulous cabin air that you are sharing with your fellow cabin mates.
What I just explained above wasn’t created from my mind, but a very common itinerary I have taken many different times, just the cities were different. The above picture is a copy of an entry taken out of my diary. I document every trip (sometimes with a sticker): what seat I sat in, which airline I flew with, type of aircraft, hotels, restaurants, people I met, etc. Going through some of the pages of my diaries to find the map you see above brought back some fun memories.
I have become savvier, though. I don’t overpack like I did five years ago, so I’m not waiting for baggage – whatever I pack I have to carry, so I keep it simple. There have been times I have woken up in the middle of the night in a hotel room and have forgotten what city I am in. Or a flight attendant looks at me and says, “Wait, you were just on the Frankfurt-Cape Town flight yesterday – now you’re coming back?!”
This is why when I initially came across fashion + class & jet lag I did a double-take. Only those who understand the true business of fashion know that jet lag comes with the territory. It’s like being in a constant fog – which is why it’s important to sleep on the plane, keep moisturized, and lay off the alcohol. Being in the moment is key, too. Things happen so quickly, I sometimes send myself a postcard. | George Zaharoff