|Georgia Hardinge London Fashion Week Show|
These are my notes on 10 Top Tips for Fashion/Lifestyle Reporting. Feel free to add yours in comments below. I stress "lifestyle" because the same tips can be applied to automotive/food/music/travel/film etc journalism. I'm going to add anything else I think of to the notes also.
#1 Religiously read your journalistic idols and top fashion critics. French Vogue, Italian Vogue, Godfrey Deeny, Diane Pernet, Suzi Menkes, Hilary Alexander as well as young talent like Suzie Bubble, Bryan Boy, The Sartorialist - Scott Shulman and young Tavi Gevinson. The likes of Tavi and Suzie are a good example of keeping up with the times and using new platforms available to us to build your own success.
#2 Be up-to-minute on all fashion news. Even if you don’t want to tweet, you don't have to, simply follow those in fashion in order to be up to speed on everything. You can even get an SMS to your phone from someone whose tweets you want to keep close tabs on. For example @CutBlog. And you should obviously follow me ;) @So_BFM Here are some other examples of tweeters you should follow: @NYTimesFashion @NYTimesStyle @VogueMagazine @Vogue_Londn @Vogue_Italia @VogueParis @WMag @BAZAAR_UK @HarpersBazaarUS @TheGQStyle @MarieClaire @ElleUK @AnOtherMagazine @iD_magazine @DVF @Burberry @topmanUK @EmilioPucci @RachelZoe @ASVOF @JakandJilBlog @HilaryAlexander
#3 Invest in a good camera. You never know who/what you can catch a shot of for your story. And you will need it for your blog. Afterall fashion reporting isn’t necessarily writing these days. Just look at LOVE magazine and Yvan Rodic - who made a jet setting career out of shooting street style photography.
#4 Which brings me to the next tip - have a stylish blog. Blogger (which I use) is not great on design. Go for Wordpress or do some research on the platform best suited to your needs. Blogging is a good way to find out what people are interested in reading about, if you get a lot of hits - obviously you're hitting the spot. It's also just great to practice your skills - the more you write the better you become. Having an outlet for your creativity that doesn’t get edited is essential for getting to know your writing style. You can also use your blog as an online resume - show your range, when an editor asks you to read your writing...you can always send a link. Lastly, and I think this is brilliant - if you want to write about something specific for a specific publication, do it on a blog first - show the editor exactly what you mean to do for them and don't forget to promote it to show how popular the topic is. Offer syndication of your blog to other fashion blogs/sites from other countries.
#5 Study who is who. When networking at events you need to know who to speak to. Add them on facebook, follow them on twitter, I also add their pictures into my phone’s address book to know what my contacts look like in case I run into them. You should know if someone standing by the bar is a big designer, an up and coming PR star or a famous reporter. Connections are great not only for hitting people up for a job, but also to get some advice. People love giving advice. Case in point.
#6 Again, brings me to my next point. Get good at networking. Seek out fashion events on FashionMonitor.com etc, sign up to mailing lists to fashionable venues. Find fashion PR’s and e-mail them to be on their press lists for news and events (Karla Otto, Relative MO, Finch & Partners, Starworks, Blow, Snow PR, Felicites). Be friendly with everyone including interns, blog about their clients, if you have something to give them (like invitations) do it. Re-tweet their tweets. Social media is extremely popular in the fashion industry – add everyone from hair & make up people to the top brands and critics, then stay on their radar with your updates. Make yourself known, use it to build the brand of "you".
#7 Be aware of new opportunities. For instance at the moment fashion film is becoming bigger and bigger. Fashion film writing probably has more opportunities than just fashion writing right now. Check out ShowStudio.com / ASVOFF.com Think of something new. Blogging was a novelty. Street style was a novelty. It allowed people who pioneered to reach the top quickly. Think of a niche. Personally I'm a big advocate of eco fashion. Something I discovered recently, which is threatening to make bloggers obsolete, is "Haulers": girls posting YouTube videos about what they bought, style and make up tips etc. It's becoming extremely popular in the states, these ladies get lots of sponsorship opportunities.
#8 Be aware of what you’re writing and tweeting until you make it to the top. If you upset the wrong brand you can find yourself on the outside. For example if you write for a Conde Nast publication, you better not criticise one of their advertisers. Not even on your blog, even if it's in another language. Depending on who you write for in this industry it’s not all about saying what's on your mind. If you’re lucky enough to write for Vice – they welcome “piss taking”. If you ever want to write for Vogue – say something nice or don’t say anything at all is the best policy, until you’re an established critic, then obviously, all bets are off. A bit of a catch 22, since you need to be able to critique to become a critic. But you can always start with critiquing the things you like. A friend of mine wrote something about a certain brand on her Swedish blog...it wasn't actually negative, but when she was getting an internship in a fashion PR firm, they almost didn't hire her because they thought she wrote something bad about one of their brands.
#9 Don’t forget about opportunities with foreign publications that write in English – Vogue India, South African Elle, Australian W etc. You can also offer writing for their blogs. If you're bi-lingual, look into reporting in that language for publications in your home country...they're often interested in London correspondents.
#10 Stay positive. Fashion/lifestyle journalism is highly competitive, but if you know you're talented or/and innovative - chances are you'll be a success. I used walk by Vogue House in London and think it could never be, but after a lot of networking my relentless determination helped me find my way in. I personally think journalism is one of the best career paths around. It allows you to influence masses, as well as live your life at full speed by attending events which shape history...or simply enrich your own existence. Influence in a positive way...fashion, for instance, is beauty and that's something positive, but there's a lot more that can be done to improve the industry's impact on society.