Fashion editing is a rarefied, coveted job profile, that only a few are lucky enough to occupy. Let’s find out if you’ve got what it takes to become the next Anna Wintour.
Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief (American Vogue)
“You either know fashion or you don’t.”
Aspiring to become a fashion editor can seem like a daunting passion to chase, but boy-are the perks of having this job-the culmination of such a beautiful dream! If you live, breathe, and daydream about fashion, then you’ve just won half the battle. The other half is where you’ll find yourself precarious at a crossroad, wondering how to take this passion forward. While we can’t promise you that the road ahead will be easy to tread, we can with utmost sincerity say that with hard work, dedication, originality, honesty, experience, and the right attitude, you’ll be able to blow any publishing company off its feet.
Job Profile of a Fashion Editor
Have you heard of Dorian Grinspan? If you haven’t, then you must read about this Yale-going student who at the young age of just 21, is the editor of his very own fashion magazine-Out of Order. A feature ran in New York Magazine, trailing the intellect’s timeline of how he veered from conventional subjects, pursuing instead an adventurous yet successful start-up. While he does have the right connections, it’s his unwavering confidence, overall appeal, and congenial facade, that wins people over. Between classes and exams, Dorian finds himself amidst a whirlwind of responsibilities, which he welcomes as part of such an exciting job. Here are the responsibilities that fashion editors in general, are in charge of:
Multitasking with Ease
No one likes a hassled fashion editor who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Being organized, finicky about details, and animalistic about perfection and deadlines, will get you through the fashion business. You must be able to juggle between overseeing fashion shoots and attending designer meetings, to handling interviews and trips to fashion week.
To be a fashion editor means to have a creative knack for the written word. Whether it’s using the right terminology or addressing a certain trend/designer, knowing which appropriate word or phrase to use, is a critical requirement. Grammar, punctuation, humor, sarcasm, critique-these are just some of the things you must perfect in writing.
Editing like a Pro
Besides immaculate writing skills, the job obviously calls for a precise and polished approach to editing. No one wants to open a magazine and spot an error or two, or worse-repetitive mistakes in every issue released. Reviewing your work before giving it the green light for printing, is an important habit to form as a fashion editor. While you may think that the first or second draft is good, a third or even fourth review will work wonders for your reputation as an editor.
Keeping Pace with Trends and Market Releases
Besides handling a ton of work at the office, you will also need to maintain a string of contacts that will keep you in the loop about upcoming trends, product releases, hot new designers, and the like. To be the first to know about what’s going to happen before or as soon as it does, is what a good fashion editor is all about. That is what makes readers want to grab your magazine off the rack-because it gives them exciting updates they’ll not get a bite of from anywhere else.
Job Requirements of a Fashion Editor
It’s no walk in the park, sweetie-to become a fashion editor, you have to be ruthless, still keeping your behavior and approach in check. Competition is not just cutthroat, it’s a blood bath to the finish line. When it comes to the fashion industry, it isn’t easy to become one of the elite who get to work and collaborate with the crème of the crop. To help you on your way to fashion editing, here’s what you’ll need to be armed with:
Get A Degree/Attend Fashion School
Focus on (reputed) universities that offer courses specifically tailored to meet the prerequisites of a fashion editor’s job. It should include subjects related to feature writing, web production, copy editing, photography, reporting, fashion merchandising, and the like. Journalism-centric courses (or fashion journalism) can be quite helpful for those trying to place themselves in the fashion industry. Get as much knowledge as you can not just from the classroom, but from fashion editors who’ve already made it in the business-read about their stories and the degrees they earned while working towards the very same goal.
Apply for An Internship
No editor in the fashion business-or writer, for that matter-can lay enough stress on how crucial it is to have an internship firmly tucked under your belt. Many of you may have let out an audible gasp or groan, but fret not. It’s never too late to acquire an internship, although you’d be wiser to get into the game at least in your early/mid-twenties. The best time to do this though, is fresh out of college or while attending classes, to give yourself more time to quaff all that the industry has to teach.
Dress the Part
When you walk into an office, everyone is going to scan you from head to toe, trying to mentally guess which designer’s outfit you’re clad in. The truth is, no one knows your sense of style better than you do. Find a designer, fashion editor, or even celebrity, that can serve as an afflatus when you piece together your wardrobe. Stefano Tonchi, Christine Centenera, Melanie Huynh, Anna Wintour, Hamish Bowles, and Joanna Coles, are some of the best dressed fashion editors in the industry. Draw style inspiration from your favorites, and then build on it until you find a statement that defines you.
Wear the Right Attitude
Out of morality, remember who you were when you started out; do not let the industry change you into an unrecognizable person. Be courteous, engaging, genuine, and above all, patient. All of us weren’t sculpted from the same mold, therefore one’s shortcomings shouldn’t be dealt with harshly. No one wants to work with someone like Miranda Priestly from theThe Devil Wears Prada; rumor has it, that the movie was vaguely based on Anna Wintour’s objurgatory approach towards coworkers.
Valuable Words of Advice from Fashion Enthusiasts
Their work is-as much as their words-a sempiternal source of inspiration for aspiring young men and women. Let’s take a look at what they have to say for budding fashion editors.
Colleen Nika, Fashion Editor (Rolling Stone)
“For a fashion writer interested in doing more than writing snappy coverage, I think it’s important to know what you love and how to turn that into a unique asset for yourself. I was a music girl who loved fashion and from day one, I approached writing about one with the other factor in mind. Since then, I’ve noticed how ubiquitous that mindset has become in both branding and editorial alike, so I guess I wasn’t crazy! There’s a million fashion writers, editors and bloggers-how will you stand out? You have to let the finer distinctions of your passion(s) be your compass.”
Natalie Rotman, Fashion Expert (The Associated Press)
“Fact: Everyone loves fashion. That doesn’t make you an expert. Many bloggers think that because they like fashion, that makes them an editor. Oh contraire. Just like any professional craft you need to learn it. Pay your dues and they will pay you back tenfold.”
Andrea Lavinthal, Style Director (People)
“Never limit yourself to doing just one thing. Meaning if you’re in print, familiarize yourself with web and vice versa. It strengthens your skills as a journalist and makes you a more desirable candidate. Also, get involved in as many social media platforms as possible, especially Twitter. It’s the absolute best way to communicate with people in your industry. And last, if you’re ever feeling ‘over it’ or jaded by all the amazing opportunities in the style industry, it’s probably time to move onto something else.”
Simone Oliver, Online Fashion Editor (The New York Times)
“Be a team player. No matter how smart, creative and hard-working you are, to be an editor is to work with others to produce something that best represents your publication and would be most informative for your readers. So many of the best photo shoots, newspaper sections or magazine issues are the result of collaborations. Don’t overlook how much of a resource a groupthink can be. When working in an editorial environment, ideas and responsibilities are meant to be shared.”
Working towards a goal cannot be accomplished without the right frame of mind, educational backing, hands-on knowledge, or the willingness to grow and learn. Some may say that you don’t need a college degree to make things happen; at least you’ll know where you stand when it comes to hundreds of other applicants. To make things a tad easier, start a website and write about the latest bits of fashion news, your favorite designers, and anything that you’d like to put out there about what you love. Also, take photographs of yourself in a fashion ensemble and offer style tidbits, so that it builds not just your fan base, but also your credibility.