An Interview with Tom Handley, Fashion PR Professor at Parsons


Back in 2015 I was lucky enough to recieve a crash course in fashion PR from Tom Handley, fashion industry expert renowned professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City as part of the Fashion Communication and Promotion short course run by Central St Martins. His golden nuggets of advice have stuck with me ever since, so when Tom approached me I was honoured to interview him all about his career, albeit over a fuzzy Skype call. Read more to see the a video of our wonderful chat and some highlights I've picked out for any aspiring fashion business bosses.

Tom Handley on...


"I really emphasize a lot about internships and email [my students] opportunities constantly. I think thats one of the things that makes me really strong as an educator; I have one foot in the classroom, one foot in the industry, and can provide relevant contacts for all my students to get internships, and jobs...The average student at Parsons has at least 3-5 internships, this really allows them to graduate and then walk right into a job."

Fashion Education

"It used to be that if you were going into fashion you were going to be a deisgner, or you want to be a buyer...Now we realise that there are so many opportunities within public relations, social media, content creation, analytics, marketing, event marketing. We cover a lot of these topics in my program."

"Should we be teaching students relevant skillsets so they can enter into the industry with very little barrier, or should we be teaching them theory and concept? Everyone agreed that students exiting fashion schools, and not just design but on the business side also, need tangible skills."

Fashion Hubs

"It remains to be important to be in a fashion hub, but its no longer only being in a fashion hub...we can work so much remotely now... Technology allows us to do so many thinsg in so many places... I don't think being geographically 'undesirable' is a thing anymore"

Fashion Job Hunting

  1. Timing is everything: "You need to be searching (for jobs) much closer to the time. Someone is not going to say that they will have a job open in 3 months, things cange much quicker than that."

  2. Follow up after applying: "Many students don't follow up (after sending out resumes). HR resources are taxed ultimately; it is the student/graduates job to follow up on every opportunity."

  3. Don't rely on job postings: "My point of view is to put together a well vetted list of brands and companies that you would like to work for, and start establishing a rapport with those companies, through linkedin, through research, sending your resume, getting informational interviews."

I hope you found Tom's advice on fashion careers helpful! Let me know what you think!