‘Reading 10,000 books is not as useful as travelling 10,000 miles’

Four months ago eight Fashion & Management students arrived in Hong Kong. They were selected for the Honours programme and live there for five months. How are they doing? AMFI spoke to Elisaveta Gilina during her stay in one the biggest production countries of the world. 

Welcome to Hong Kong

The Honours programme offers students an extra internship and essential knowledge on the production side of the fashion industry. It’s also a big opportunity to learn about ever developing China. In the first four weeks the students began with daily Mandarin and Chinese cultural classes at the Polytechnic University. Their laoshi (teachers) also took them on several trips, discovering new parts of China. After these first four weeks the serious business started and Elisaveta, together with a colleague student, started working for the buying office of McGregor in Hong Kong.

The office of McGregor

Elisaveta: ‘McGregor is a Dutch company so we expected a lot of Dutch co-workers. It was therefore quite surprising for us to see only locals working here. This is actually a big plus as they give us great tips and advice about Hong Kong.’ Elisaveta also explains that food is a big part of the Chinese culture and you can see this also on the work floor. ‘ It’s a different type of working atmosphere, which for example consists of constantly cooking and eating at the office.’

Working & Eating

The students company assignment consists of three main tasks: Manuals Update, Fabric Library and Quality Control. ‘First we had to make a proposal for synchronising and updating the Gaastra and McGregor company manuals. This is currently a big issue for the company as both brands have common buying offices and suppliers, and the manuals are outdated.’

Elisaveta testing fabrics at the office

They have to work hard at Mcgregor, but nevertheless Elisaveta still enjoys Hong Kong. ‘We visited the Materials Manufacturing and Technology Leather Fair. This is one of the biggest fairs for leather in the world, and definitely was a great experience. For the company we had to find new suppliers for washable leathers for example. First we didn’t know how to approach the different stands but after a while we got more confident with gathering information, samples and catalogues.’

Working at the leather fair

They also went on a trip through China during the long Easter weekend. ‘ We travelled to Guangzhou where almost nobody spoke English so we had to put in practice our ‘brilliant’ Mandarin knowledge and drawing skills. We visited a couple of temples, wholesale streets, the old part of the city, many Chinese restaurants and of course the best markets for shopping. On the way back our back packs were filled with nothing but new clothes!’

Text by Mary Jane Bouwense (2nd year Fashion & Management student).

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