I’ve always loved fashion and I’ve always loved words – the first thing I ever wanted to be was an author. I remember finding out fashion journalism existed as a job around year 7 at school and that was it, I decided that’s what I wanted to do and planned my A-levels then and there accordingly. I studied Fashion Promotion, specialising in journalism, for my degree at London College of Fashion (2003 to 2006) and it was an incredibly vocational course that encouraged you to get out of the classroom and go and make it in the industry. So off I went.
I had no idea how to get into fashion journalism when I started out – there was no social media or bloggers, the Internet was probably still dialling up somewhere in the background and the fashion media landscape was very much about magazines, which I loved but still had no idea how to get into. In this respect my course was great because it was so vocational, taught by incredible industry professionals – and that was the edge. But you had to make it happen, go out and find the stories, come up with the ideas and break into the industry yourself. But the course was great for telling you things you thought you knew but didn’t really. I think a fashion journalism degree is great in the sense that we also had cultural studies and fashion history electives and that of course is invaluable when the job you set out to do is reporting on fashion. Having been back to the classroom in more of a teaching/mentoring capacity since leaving, you can definitely see the impact of the Internet – which again was really just beginning when I left university, which is funny to think now.
I never set out to work online and learned it all on the job – which is the best way, because you can’t really be taught it. It happens and you do it. It changes every day and my job is different all the time – two weeks ago to two years ago to two days ago, it’s been different. But that’s exciting – the pace and the change keeps you on your toes and that’s what keeps me there.
I was encouraged to be in a fashion cupboard or a news desk at every given opportunity while at university and that is exactly what I did: my local paper (where I got to write loads – I really recommend that!); The Daily Telegraph, Vogue, Easy Living, ElleGirl (where I became a regular throughout my university days), assisting a freelance stylist, Brides and Condé Nast Digital – Vogue.co.uk, where I am now, among them. Brides was great in terms of verifying that I wanted to write more than anything else. Hefting around huge wedding dresses from shoot to shoot was not for me, so I learnt a lot in that way. My local paper was great for giving me the opportunity to come up with ideas and make them a reality and I picked up a whole book of bylines while there – everything from the new fashion scene (questionable but I found a hook) to the latest bar culture in my local area.
My job has changed hugely over the 8 years I’ve been at Vogue.co.uk. But typically I get in and look at what I posted the day before on both Google Analytics and social media to see how well it’s done. I’ll be researching various shopping and trend pages and working on various features and interviews at the same time and then responding to whatever is happening in the news – be that writing a story or compiling a fashion gallery riffing on that. During show season, I am at the shows, getting up early and working late, filing copy on the go – this is my favourite time of year – and if it’s graduate season I am at the graduate shows looking for new talent to note and keeping an eye on for future stories and designers who may reappear at fashion week. I love to write and meet designers so it’s always great to get out of the office and cover events or do interviews. It puts it all into context. Likewise with the shows, which are always exciting.
I never set out to work online and learned it all on the job – which is the best way, because you can’t really be taught it. It happens and you do it. It changes every day and my job is different all the time – two weeks ago to two years ago to two days ago, it’s been different. But that’s exciting – the pace and the change keeps you on your toes and that’s what keeps me there. That and that fashion and words are just really my default and I can’t imagine doing anything else as a career (though I do want to write some books too!). Outside of work it’s not a surprise to find me chatting away with my friends about the finer details of a collection etc.
I’m now used to writing for online as I do it every day and have done for the past eight and a half years. It makes you rigorous, succinct and gives you a strong eye for detail, facts and finding the hook. That said it depends what genre of writing you are doing for online – when I started out it was far more news-based with shorter pieces, now longer reads work just as well online because readers are constantly on their phones and devices consuming. And if the content is good, they will read it no matter how long it is. My English teacher, Mr Lacey, always used to say that English language is a load of “crap”: by which he meant Context Register Audience Purpose – all of which stand up whether it be print or digital, and the context and purpose of digital is constantly evolving.
I had no idea how to get into fashion journalism when I started out – there was no social media or bloggers, the Internet was probably still dialling up somewhere in the background and the fashion media landscape was very much about magazines, which I loved but still had no idea how to get into.
We were one of the first standalone fashion websites in the sense that we weren’t just a subscription companion page for the magazine, so we were always ahead of the curve, creating exciting content and reporting breaking news long before anyone else – and we continue to do so. In terms of keeping things fresh and engaging for our readers, I think the fact that it’s Vogue means something of course – it has a wonderfully rich and respected heritage and it’s incredible to be a part of that, and I think that probably spurs us on too. By the very nature that it is a website we are engaging constantly, live, with our readers and we all have specialist areas of knowledge and are users/readers of the Internet too. It’s a constant dialogue between the desks!
Fashion week is my favourite time of year. I cover the shows and write show reports, filing them as soon as the show is done, as well as doing social media. We are a well-oiled machine of a team and so it’s all about the preparation and working as a tight and collaborative team. I work with a great one. I love to travel and I love to see what the designers have in store so it’s not really about coping, it’s about enjoying the job. I love to go to alternative fashion weeks as you learn so much and it informs your local fashion knowledge, which is invaluable. I also like to travel as much as I can personally and my default spot is New York, I just love it there. I always love being in Paris for fashion week too, I have a lot of friends there and the city is truly beautiful. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Singapore, Lahore, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Sweden, Copenhagen, Berlin and Moscow for work and I hope to do more still.
During fashion week my style is basically the same – you may just clock me in my Vans over platforms from time to time over fashion week as a fair amount of running is involved. But mostly it’s my usual wardrobe with my trusty Chanel bag, various elements of Gap denim and a mix of emerging designers, old favourites and the odd vintage note.
When I’m not working, I run marathons! I ran two full marathons last year (one directly after Paris Fashion Week) and did a half marathon back in May. I think by the fact that I work online for a job means I don’t find myself constantly on it outside of work, though that does happen too. I’m quite addicted to my phone – emails, texts, Whatsapp. But a lot of my friends work in the industry anyway so I think the two run as parallel.
Photography by David Nyanzi exclusively for The Lifestyle Edit with art direction by Naomi Mdudu.