Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as fashion journalism | Bleader

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as fashion journalism

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The other night I went to speak about fashion writing for a class at the School of the Art Institute. While I wasn't very optimistic about the potential for employment or even decently-paying freelance gigs as a fashion writer here in Chicago—which is unfortunate, because there is a lot to write about—fashion journalism does survive at publications in New York, Paris, London, and many other cities, not to mention online, both in well-known blogs and on obscure sites. But it's important to make a distinction between fashion journalism and fashion writing. I don't think of Vogue, so beholden to its advertisers, as a bastion of fashion journalism, although the writers and editors there are certainly extremely astute about fashion. To be a fashion journalist, you have to be willing to upset people, which is something that it seems like a lot of people in the industry try to avoid—especially in Chicago, where there seems to be an unspoken agreement not to write negatively about designers, not to mention the city-sponsored fashion initiative. Of course we're talking about emerging designers and an emerging industry, which shouldn't necessarily be held to world-class standards, but the lack of constructive criticism can't ultimately be good for promoting growth and success.

To write honestly is a risk for major fashion journalists as well—they can be banned from fashion shows indefinitely and advertisers can pull their support. It usually seems to blow over eventually, though. Missing a few seasons worth of shows and access is probably worth keeping your integrity, although that's easier to say when you're Cathy Horyn rather than a recent college graduate trying to scrape together enough work to pay your bills and make your mark.

Anyway, I thought this video, shown during the class, succinctly explains the minefield of money and egos that fashion journalists must navigate.

(h/t to Gillion Carrara and Alex Aubry)

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