How to become a Fashion Journalist – The Challenges and Positive Aspects of this Job

Pouring over fashion magazines and admiring inspirational new designs is a past-time for many of us. Emerging into the actual fashion industry as a fashion journalist, on the other hand, is unique. It is the difference between holding a glossy magazine and feeling a beautiful designer piece in your own hands. It is the difference between reading about the latest designers and actually connecting with the fashion designer in person, asking the very questions which have been on the tip of your tongue this season.

What separates fashion journalism from other career paths is the element of variety. Since fashion journalism includes various elements of media work – think freelancing, reporting, interviewing, writing features for print or online, and even traveling and attending photo shoots – there is likely a niche just for you if you have the passion and eye. Being a part of such a vibrant and fast-paced arena means that you will have a unique “behind the scenes” look into the fashion world. So if fashion journalism has been on your mind for a while, see if you have the needed skills and from there, weigh the highs and lows which come with working in the industry.

Part of the fun of fashion journalism is connecting with important people in the industry. The people you meet can be the gateway to other important contacts who will invite you to the latest shows, welcome you into their studios, provide contacts for important interviews , add you to press lists and refer you to other designers for backstage shots. While meeting new people and regularly attending exciting events can be inspirational for your latest piece, it can also demand a lot of energy and resilience. It means being on top of socialising opportunities, recognising important names, attending fashion weeks, and having a good connection to not only designers and photographers, but also retailers and fashion schools. It also may mean showing your extroverted side – be open to talk to whoever comes your way. However, sometimes networking isn’t always about the personal contact. More important than face-to-face meetings can sometimes be the online connection. Develop a portfolio for yourself and create your own website, so when contacts refer you to a new potential client, you will be easy to find and book when a designer wants publicity for an upcoming project.

Researching and understanding the latest developments are important for fashion journalism who want to remain interesting. Social media and blogging can play a huge role in your relevance as a fashion journalist – so it is important to follow how others in the same field – and understand what your target audience is looking for and sharing in their own circles. Staying informed is the exciting aspect of working in the industry, but is also fast-paced and always changing. This means you will often be on the look-out for new subject matter, as well as keeping up with updating your own contact list. While doing this, hold on to the historical background of the trends – where do designers find inspiration, and how can this help you better understand the patterns and context around you? Since the fashion industry is international, this will also require you to discover what is trending in societies and streets around the world, and understand the impact which particular fashion designers and shows can have on a global scale.

While designers and photographers are clearly innovative, fashion journalists also need to cultivate their own creativity. Fashion journalists need to be able to grasp the emerging trends and play with the latest pieces, in order to be the first to expose the newest styles and inspiration for the upcoming season. Staying on top of what inspires designers – and being excited about these new ideas – is what makes fashion journalism a unique profession. It takes a very creative and passionate individual to not only energise the trends during fashion week, but also to catch on to what is happening on the streets around them or in the windows of retailers. This may also require that you explore alternative modes of fashion journalism: what are journalism blog reporting about and predicting and how can this shape your own angle?

While indulging in the ever-changing fashion industry may be appealing for any fashion lover, it is easy to become overwhelmed by it all. Like any career, it takes starting at the bottom to finally break in. Staying positive and determined is critical when the industry around you is constantly evolving and your address book is expanding. Allow yourself to explore different opportunities so your passion can shine. It takes someone who is not scared to go above and beyond to really make it as a fashion journalist. Ask the right questions – and enjoy every minute of that interview or that networking opportunity, because staying positive can inspire others and draw a larger following. Finally, you will need determination as a fashion journalist since you may not have an office employment in which you have colleagues – sometimes fashion journalists start out as freelancers, which may mean having to exert more time and energy into marketing yourself, but this also gives you the freedom to negotiate your own contracts and cover what really interests you.

If you feel you have all the right skills and the passion, the next step is to look into journalism schools and attend the right fashion journalism courses, which could also be journalism online courses. Journalism schools will give you the practical skills and experience needed to break into the industry, to transform your passion into reality and to fine-tune your expertise to really break into the fashion scene.

by Kelly Blank