Middleagemum.com: Work trips

The great thing about working in fashion is the opportunity to travel. I have been all over the world and feel very lucky to have visited so many amazing places. 

When I first started travelling as a young designer in the early 80's, I worked for a large retail chain, where the 'lady buyers' ruled the roost. Designers were seen as nice to have but, slightly weird people who dressed strangely, liked quirky things, didn't really understand what was commercial and 'drew things up'. 

Lady Buyer – "Could you just sketch up this sample I bought in Bloomingdales in New York last week, it's so directional, yet really commercial and I think it will be great for our customer". Designer – I have sketched that shape 10 times and talked to you about it endlessly over the last 6 months, and each time you have either ignored me, or dismissed it as uncommercial, "yes of course it will"! You get the idea. Actually if I'm honest in some cases, this hasn't changed all that much, but that's another story.

Travelling can be hard work, but it is usually counter balanced by lovely hotels, nice meals, a little bit of sight seeing, shopping and often lots of laughing. Depending of course if you are travelling with the right people. And here lies the secret of a successful trip! There are times when the people you are travelling with, can be slightly tiring, if not downright annoying, and can dampen even the most enthusiastic spirit.

It really doesn't matter if you are in the most beautiful place in the world, throw in a nightmare travel companion and you can bet your Hong Kong dollar you would rather be at home eating a boiled egg, than stuck in Bangkok with 'the buyer from Hell'. 

Apologies to any nice fashion buyers reading this (and there are lots of you) but I have to draw on personal experience here, and in my case it's usually the buyers (or worse, assistant buyers, but they don't usually get to travel) that tend to have the 'attitude' problem. Maybe it's the fact they are treated like royalty by suppliers desperate to use up their 'open to buy' or maybe its the thought of the very large bonus they could potentially make if they buy the 'winner of the season', that can often make them a little 'difficult'. 

On a rare day off in Delhi, on one very memorable trip, I was horrified to find that the majority of the group I was travelling with wanted to spend the day in the hotel beauty salon. On the same trip I also commented on how beautiful the sunset was, only to be told, 'you designers are so weird'!!

On another trip to Tokyo and then Hong Kong, my travelling companion (an aspiring WAG, with a BAD attitude) spent the whole trip complaining, changing hotel rooms, sending food back, ordering off menu, spending vast amounts of money on horrendously expensive wine and generally being rude to everyone she met. As there were just the two of us travelling, there was no escape and by the end of the trip, I could have cheerfully kicked her D & G clad ass all the way to her penthouse apartment in Chelsea!

After a few years of almost constant travel, I learnt the art of a successful trip. Avoid the nightmare, high maintenance colleagues from Hell, if at all possible, never go away for more than five nights, never share a room, try to make sure you have at least one normal person with a sense of humour with you, and eat and drink, a lot!

Last week, when stranded in Italy for four days, with a group of work colleagues, our resources and friendships were put to the test. Some of us had known each other for years, some of us had just met and almost all of us had to share rooms. It was tense and emotional and at times it felt a little 'Armageddon' like. It took us 48 hours to get back after an epic road trip, but there were no dramatics, no arguments and no moods. Had I been with my family I am sure we would have argued much much more! 

Despite the fact we were all desperate to get home, we stuck together, ate and drank lots, and most of all, laughed and laughed. The only problem was, there was no-one to bitch about !!

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