Most collegiate thespians set their sights on New York City after four years of classes, rehearsals and high-energy performances. And that’s just where Jonathan Parkey ended up after his SMDT undergraduate career, but rather than the Garden Theater, Parkey found himself in a different Broadway bastion — fashion label Proenza Schouler’s showroom.
After graduating from the University in 2009, Parkey took the customary course of incipient actors — taking odd jobs to make ends meet in the city. Along with juggling auditions, shows and stints in children’s theater tours, he was a part-time personal assistant and waiter at Hillstone Restaurant.
But his initial foray into fashion occurred serendipitously, over dinner with an ex-coworker from the restaurant. Eight months prior, she had traded the waitressing life to be the studio manager at Proenza Schouler. She had recently been promoted and offered Parkey her old position at the womenswear brand.
“I was definitely hesitant to begin,” Parkey said. “The nice part about being an actor is you can always pick back up where you left off. That’s what I told myself when I started at Proenza — ‘if I hate it in six months, I can go back to auditioning, no harm done.’”
Parkey assumed the studio manager position while also serving as executive assistant to the CEO. He was almost immediately recognized for his auspicious work ethic.
“My boss quickly was like ‘you’re really smart, you’re really talented, you just have to stick it out in this role for a year and then we’re going to find your way into the company,’” he said.
The CEO was true to her word, and as Parkey spent the year taking on extra hours running the studio, making what he considered pennies, he eventually rose up in the company and became a collection coordinator — his first experience on the wholesale account.
“With that I was sort of a brand ambassador to speak with clients,” he said. “I would bring in new samples for stores and say ‘here’s all of the collection your buyers bought for you, this is how you wear it, this is how you style it, this is what’s exciting about it.’”
Shortly after, when Proenza was opening their flagship New York store, Parkey was promoted to be retail operations manager. Last April, he bid a fond farewell to the company that gave him his fashion footing as he transitioned back into wholesale for Thom Browne.
“When I told the CEO I was leaving for Thom Browne, I think she said it best when she said ‘It’s sort of like you’re graduating from high school,’” he said. “Each office and working atmosphere is very different. I think that was the biggest shift for me, starting fresh at a company where the familial atmosphere was somewhat missing.”
Parkey spent a mere eight months at Thom Browne, serving as the women’s wholesale manager along with running women’s international wholesale distribution. During his short time with the brand, the Proenza CEO introduced him to Rosetta Getty, the LA-based socialite with a then emerging fashion label. She offered him the position of women’s wholesale director, an offer he said he couldn’t refuse. The first Rosetta Getty collection he worked with was pre-fall 2015, which showed in December of last year.
“Rosetta is one of the coolest people and bosses,” he said. “She provides a very LA energy to the team. She’s very laid back, very cerebral, super smart, and one of the chicest people on the planet.”
Though the label has California roots, Parkey works from New York. He frequently travels to Paris for work and considers it a home away from home. Along with the jetsetting life, Parkey loves being apart of the small, close-knit luxury fashion community. As far as his future plans go, nothing is for certain.
“I think the next part for me may be going back and getting my MBA, maybe going back and preparing myself for a little more high level executive position,” he said.
Should Parkey return to the classroom, he’ll surely set the style curve.