Orla O’Brien

Business of Fashion

Position: Fashion Tutor

‘I have been passionate about fashion for as long as I can remember and have loved working in many areas of industry. The industry is constantly changing, no two days are the same.’ 

‘Mentoring students to be ready to work in the industry is what is most important to me. I want to give them every tool for success.’ 

‘The coming together of creativity and business-savvy is what I love most about the fashion industry. The most successful people in the industry are both.’ 

About Orla O’Brien

I have been working in the fashion industry since beginning work experience in a small boutique aged 16. I ran a fashion blog at the time of leaving school and wanted to pursue fashion communications. I decided to do a BA in Communication Studies at Dublin City University. During this time I helped run the annual DCU fashion shows and was editor of the college’s fashion magazine ‘The Look’. It was during these extra-curricular activities that my love for fashion really grew. 

Throughout my degree, I worked part-time retail jobs in Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel (the coolest fashion places at the time!) I also worked as a model which gave me invaluable experience in fashion shows and photoshoots and allowed me to work with industry experts and stylists from RTE, Stellar Magazine, U Magazine and Brown Thomas amongst others. I made great friends and contacts in this industry which I am still in touch with today.  

Upon finishing my degree in 2014 I was offered the role to work as a manager in Hollister. I learned so much from being on the shop floor about customers’ needs, sales forecasting and stock management. My favourite aspect of the job was seeing new stock arrive, and instantly knowing what our best sellers would be. This is what drove me to go back to college in 2016 and pursue a PgDip in Fashion Buying and Management at TU Dublin. 

During the year studying Fashion Buying I was successful in securing a placement in the Savida department in Dunnes Stores. I started on a six-week placement and six years later I was still there, managing the department! Working in buying is a tough but rewarding job. I loved to see products go from the development stage to the shop floor, and seeing strong sales was the best reward!

I travelled the world, learned firsthand about every level of the supply chain, and saw fashion from a new perspective. During my years in Savida, I also went back to college part-time and earned my Masters in Fashion Buying. 

I have worked as a Social Media Manager for a makeup company and wrote an awardwinning blog. I managed all Savida’s social media, styled and directed all photoshoots and also launched and managed their Spanish e-commerce website. All of these ventures have given me valuable knowledge that I would be happy to share with students pursuing these paths. 

I currently work as a freelance Buying Consultant, Personal Stylist and Fashion Tutor.  

Orla’s Teaching Philosophy

I have a student-led approach to teaching. I aim to ensure what I teach is engaging and interactive, and I am showing rather than telling. I want to ensure that students have the skills needed to be able to hit the ground running when they pursue a career in the fashion industry.  

I am approachable and act as a mentor for my students. I love supporting and guiding students to pursue the best path for them.


  • BA Communication Studies 2:1
  • PgDip Fashion Buying and Management 1:1
  • MSc Fashion Buying and Management 1:1

Research/Industry Participation 

  • Research Project on the effects of Influencer Marketing on consumer attitude and purchase intention in the Fashion Industry. 
  • Won the industry competition during my PgDip for Primark on how to increase their like-for-like sales.

If you are interested in a career in fashion, check out Portobello Institute’s BA (Hons) Fashion Buying & Merchandising or BA (Hons) Fashion Management.

If you are interested in any of our business of fashion courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert fashion advisor Sarah Coyne, email [email protected] or call 01 892 0041. 


Orla O’Brien Orla O’Brien