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Style / A talk with Erin Habes

SPREE’s fashion maven tells all


Being a stylist is not all fun and fashion. Spree Style editor Erin Habes dishes on the hard work, dedication, and constant learning needed to put together these gorgeous shoots.


When did you first become interested in fashion—to the extent of making it a career?

My interest in fashion came from a combination of my grandmother’s eclectic style, mixed with my obsession with fashion magazines. I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue a degree in fashion. Buffalo State was the perfect college; it was close to home, affordable, had small class sizes, and had a great study abroad program. I knew I didn’t want to be a designer, but I loved styling and producing fashion events.   


Why do you think it’s important?

It’s important for many reasons: think about how you feel when you put on your favorite outfit, the instant level of confidence and ego boost. Fashion allows people to show their personality and express themselves. It’s also an important platform for change and gives people a voice to make statements. Whether you want to show your LGBTQ+ pride with rainbow Converse or you choose to wear vegan leather, fashion allows you to be who you want to be and stand up for what you believe in.



How has your attitude toward fashion changed over the years and why?

It’s changing along with everyone else. The industry is shifting to be more inclusive, and consumers are responding positively. It’s about embracing every shape, size, and color. The best example is ThirdLove (Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO, from Niagara Falls) vs. Victoria’s Secret. ThirdLove took a full-page ad out in the New York Times and wrote “An Open Letter to Victoria’s Secret.” Zak expressed how appalled she was by the demeaning comments about women the Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue. Razek states,“We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t. It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.” This was a boss move by Zak. She not only called out this behavior in the letter but showed how outdated Victoria’s Secret really was in 2018. Zak stood up for all of us and, days later, the Victoria’s Secret’s CEO was replaced. The change is here!


Give our readers an idea of the steps necessary to put together a fashion shoot like this.

People may think that being a stylist is a glamorous lifestyle. I’m here to burst their bubbles; it’s not! There is a ton of work before, during, and after that goes into our fashion shoots. I start with doing some trend research for the season, looking to WGSN (a trend forecasting service). Once I’ve identified the trends, I look at a color palette and create a mood board for inspiration. This gives me a solid focus to start my shopping. I then shop local boutiques and scout the hottest fashions. It’s a lot of research. Once I identify the trends, I sort through my photos and create a plan for the fashion spread. During this time, I’m also scouting models, locations, finding hair and makeup professionals, and touching base with my photographer and team. A few days before the shoot, I’ll plot out my route and head back to the stores to pull the items that will work. I always pull more than I need, because the models don’t try anything on until the day of the shoot. One of the most important elements on a shoot this big is developing a production guide/call sheet for the crew. This gives everyone all the photo shoot information, from location to models. It’s our bible for shoots and we always reference it throughout the day. Next, it’s game time! The day of the shoot is what I live for—I love live production in every capacity. My team arrives at the location with all the wardrobe and accessories; hair and makeup begins on set. We style the models, and the photographer starts his or her magic. Once we’ve wrapped up the shoot, the day is not done. All the wardrobe and accessories need to be accounted for and returned to the stores. About a week later, the photographer sends me all the best shots from the shoot, and I make my picks. While the photographer edits the final photos, I’m gathering credits and writing my story. As much as it seems like everything is plotted out at the beginning with my mood board, it’s incredible to see how a fashion shoot can grow organically—and turn into what you see in the magazine!



You have been teaching at Buffalo State College for a while and you just finished your master’s in creative studies. How do you see your role as an academic in the world of fashion? How can you make a difference?

My vision for the future of fashion education is simple, I believe that we must foster creativity in our classrooms and teach creativity as an essential skill in fashion. Introducing creative problem-solving to our fashion students will give them the tools to generate new ideas, help with decision-making, and creating solutions in an industry that is rapidly changing. Fostering creativity in the classroom allows students to dive deeper into content, make connections, learn team-building skills, and creates student-centered discussions. It gives our students the ability to empower themselves and have a voice in their learning.


So much of what I do in the academic world of fashion is bridging the gap and building connection between the classroom and applied learning experiences. I strive to bring my industry connections into the classroom. My role as the style editor for Buffalo Spree has played a very intricate role in my students’ learning. It’s given many students the opportunity to shine, from the fashion shoots in Siena, Italy, to the winning collections of Runway. This is my platform to make a difference in our young people’s lives.



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