Fashion editors typically write about fashion collections, trends, events and people in fashion and showbiz. They are often called upon to work on a brief with a particular look or style as the objective. They either have to style the look themselves or supervise stylists to achieve it. They must keep in touch with fashion trends and be able to report the same to their readers, whether they write for a magazine, newspaper or online publication.
What do they do?
Yes, the privileged front-row set at fashion shows could be yours to claim as could a whole load of freebies from who’s who of the fashion world. What you need is oodles of fashion sense, writing ability, an open mind with a great willingness to learn and you have what it takes to be a fashion editor.
And a bit of thick skin - simply because stakeholders in the fashion industry can be very scathing in their criticism of your work.
So, what does a fashion editor do? He or she usually works at a magazine, newspaper or online publication conceptualising and executing a brief. The brief could come in any shape or size — from bringing out a bridal issue, being asked to combine the sports and fashion worlds (see pic), do an environment day issue or presenting an actress in a never-before-seen look.
“We first study the brief to understand what kind of look/s is expected. We need to then decide whether we can achieve the looks with luxury brands, premium brands, mid-range brands, or a healthy mix of these,” says Shamali Singh, fashion stylist, Men’s Health magazine. She says the next step is to source the garments, accessories and anything else that is required for the shoot.
“Getting the right products for the shoot is one of the most challenging parts of the job. Many a times, stores are unwilling to part with their stuff. It is because of this that we need to build a rapport with them,” adds Singh. The products, sometimes costing more than R1 lakh a piece, need to be returned in pristine condition and within the time given.
A meeting with the photographer, planning the shoot, brainstorming for ideas, is essential. Parallelly, one puts together all the articles sourced from stores to complete the look.
“On the day of the shoot, everyone is alert and high on energy. Hair and makeup start while the photographer sets up. A normal shoot lasts for a good eight hours. But if there are many models or many looks, it can stretch to 12-14 hours,” says Singh.
A fashion editor will then sift through the photos from the shoot, select the best of the lot, and work with the art team to get them laid out. The write-up follows.
For different types of articles or features, the approach can be different. “If it’s an interview, I send a request for the interview with the designer/subject and also organise appropriate images to go with the text. If it’s a trend-based piece, I organise images first and then, according to the layout given to me by the art team, fit in my text on the page,” says Varun Rana, associate fashion features editor, Harper’s Bazaar India.
So, how does one become a fashion editor? While Rana did his professional diploma in fashion design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Singh had more of a lucky break into fashion journalism. She had an innate sense of fashion and styling and went to a magazine looking for contacts of designers who she could approach for a job. “The editor offered me a job as fashion coordinator. I quickly learnt the ropes and started styling for various shoots. The rest is history,” says Singh.
However, for most, a background in fashion is a must. “A friend, who is in advertising, has been styling ad campaigns and such for some time now. She has a great eye for fashion, and obviously has some experience too. But she cannot find an opening readily into fashion media because she has no formal fashion background,” says Rana.
The source of fulfillment of the job is different for different people. For Rana it is “getting to meet some of the most interesting creative minds in fashion today. Through my job, I have met Sir Paul Smith, Veronica Etro, Silvia Venturini Fendi.”
Singh finds satisfaction in “getting to feast my eyes on the latest trends in fashion. Plus, when your work gets noticed, it is very satisfying.”
Rana cautions aspirants to figure out why they want to be in this profession. “Is it the glamour that attracts you? Is it the social importance it momentarily brings? Is it the power of being a fashion commentator where your word is law? Or do you have a simpler purpose: to inform and educate your reader and help the industry grow without your ego getting in the way,” says Rana.
. Innate sense of fashion
. Understand makeup and styling
. Understand photography
. Research skills
. Flair for writing snappy copy
. Rapport-building skills
. Willingness to learn
. Oodles of creativity
. Obsessive attention to detail
How do I get there?
Study fashion design, fashion technology, fine arts, or styling at a reputable institute. As fashion journalism matures, such a background is becoming more important. Start out at a fashion or lifestyle magazine, newspaper or online publication (Style.com represents Vogue on the internet). One can also start one’s own blog but a resource crunch can cramp one’s style.