Making a career in the field of fashion writing

Making a career in the field of fashion writing

By Dwijendra Kumar

Recent years have shown an unprecedented rise in the number of write ups on fashion appearing in newspapers and magazines catering to general readers. These reports are mainly about various events taking place in the world of fashion such as shows, exhibitions, interviews with fashion designers, models, fashion photographers, choreographers, fashion bloggers and blog, Vlogs etc.

In addition, a host of publications as well as television programmes on fashion have come up which primarily cover issues related to fashion. The trade magazine covering business of fashion products too have donned a new contemporary look with increase in readership. All these developments have created ample opportunities for journalists having flair for fashion not only to get a foot in the door but also climb up the professional ladder.

Even business pages of newspapers and magazines carry a lot of reports, features etc related to business aspects of the fashion industry. Again, mainstream daily newspapers too cover fashion events in the Page-3 supplements.

Job Profile: If one is working with a general newspaper or magazine, she/he has to take care of pages devoted to fashion and lifestyle issues. In these pages, the fashion journalist reports only those issues which are of interest to general readers like the latest trends in fashion and interviews with leading professionals in the field, particularly those who have made a name in the glamour arena.

The approach to the write-ups is simple and informative But those who work with fashion and lifestyle magazines have not only to go beyond merely reporting an event but also need to critically analyze the whole scenario keeping in mind the trends in vogue in other parts of the country as well as runways in Paris, Milan, London, New York etc. As the subscribers of such magazines are mainly those related to the field, the write-ups need to be in-depth and convincing.

In trade magazines related to fashion industry, the fashion journalists have to write articles/reports about the trends in textiles, garments, accessories, technologies used and marketing techniques. Since these magazine go to the professionals in the field, such write ups need to be supported by facts and figures. Suppose one is writing about a rise in the demand of cotton fabric in Delhi, she/he needs to quote mill owners, distributors, retailers and manufacturers in the field.

In addition, one has to do surveys of various markets dealing with fashion items and come out with views on quality, price and sales figures of each product. This in turn provides the manufactures idea as to what kind of stuffs are selling in the market as also the price range. With liberalization, manufacturers and distributors are looking for exporting and importing fashion products. And hence, trade magazines in the field regularly come up with profiles of countries which may be a potential buyer or supplier.

To write an authentic piece on the subject, a journalist needs to collect data from concerned high commissions and embassies which also provide information relating to current policies in the trade. One also needs to report about the seminars/ workshops organized by various organizations in the field.

While those employed in foreign publications get regular chances to travel to fashion capitals to keep themselves abreast of the latest trends, here in India they should be satisfied with covering important fashion shows and exhibitions and enjoy the company of celebrities.

Basic skills required: A good command over language, particularly English, is a must as most of the magazines covering issues related to fashion are published in this language only. It is through the command over this language that one can effectively communicate with the readers. Nose for the news and flair for fashion are the other pre-requisites.

Writing on fashion trends: Before one embarks on writing on trends in vogue, a fashion journalist must acquire knowledge about the trends that were there in the past. Again, one’s story should not be based on the interviews of a handful of big names in the field as trends in haute couture are different from the general fashion trends.

For this, one needs to be in touch with established manufacturers, distributors, merchandising teams of big retail stores and visit wholesale markets in person. For example, if one is writing on trends in denims, she/ he needs to talk to leading manufactures and corroborate the same with the comments from retail stores owners and wholesalers.

Training Institutes: There are a number of institutes offering courses in fashion communication. Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi has included reporting Fashion and Lifestyle in its post graduate course on Journalism. One can also join any regular or part-time course in journalism. Once the course is over, she/he can work as trainee journalist with scores of fashion and lifestyle publications to gain experience in the field. A good collection of published articles may land good job offers.

Job opportunities: Though general newspapers and magazines prefer freelancers in the field, fashion and trade magazines regularly come up with advertisements looking for full time journalists. In order to get the job, one needs to have a portfolio of his/her published articles. Foreign magazines also recruit fashion journalists on regular and freelance basis. So, one needs to be in constant touch with them.

A fashion journalist also has the option of joining PR Consultancies and Event Management companies in the field. The experience in the fashion industry and good writing skills of a journalist could be an asset for a PR or event management agency or even to designers and big manufacturers who would like to employ them on regular basis. As a public relations officer, they can help designers, brands and retail stores build a favorable public image.

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