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What it Really Means To Be a Fashion Journalist

February 6th, 2017 at 2:00am

“So, is it like, a blog?” is the usual reaction I get when I explain my internship at CollegeFashionista. While this question is coming from a place of curiosity and not intended to offend, I often find myself with my guard up and launching into details fairly quickly. It’s not that there is a need to be defensive, but it sometimes feels like writing about fashion, beauty, and the industry is viewed as “less than” to others.

There’s this general sense that working in fashion is a frivolous occupation. The collective “they” consider clothes a hobby, not a job. Many think it’s a topic that doesn’t requires the voice of specialists since “everyone knows how to get dressed.” From those outside the industry, there is a lot of confusion surrounding what writing about fashion actually is all about and even it’s place in journalism.

(Photo via @maddyhaller)

Fashion journalism sits on a precarious line between essential and excess—breaking down outfits is often not considered as pressing as discussing topics like the industry’s sustainability problem. Today, a large portion of fashion writing is online. The ability to self-publish content through blogs, videos, and social media has also made fashion writing more accessible for those interested. Fashion journalism is no longer an exclusive opportunity available only to those who elbowed their way onto a masthead of a magazine.

Maybe this is where the confusion lies—if anyone can publish their opinions on fashion, how can it still be journalism?

(Photo via @jordanflyley)

In my opinion, the openness of fashion journalism is its defining quality—it’s by and for everyone who are willing to listen and engage. There is room to discuss popular culture through clothing hauls, beauty tips, and celebrities while combining discourse surrounding high fashion. Writing about fashion requires more than just liking clothes, it requires attention to detail and passion for the specificities that make up the industry.

(Photo via @gisele_milan)

There have been important cultural moments for fashion publications, like Teen Vogue’s and obsessee’s recent engagements in politics and cultural issues. It shows that writers are multifaceted in not only their writing, but their interests. Don’t get me wrong, fashion publications, writers, and brands have had their fair share of insensitive moments. But the industry seems to be expanding to become more inclusive, aware and growing in order to represent its audience (and the world) more accurately.

(Photo via @phenix_xox)

Fashion is empowering. For many, it’s an important mode of self-expression. It is both cultural and habitual, while also being an exciting way to represent yourself on a daily basis. While interest in fashion is considered niche, it’s something that touches all of our lives. There are different facets we need to discuss as clothes affects each of us in some capacity.

(Photo via @toshaisgnarly)

When people ask me why I write about fashion, Meryl Streep’s speech about Cerulean Blue pops into my head from The Devil Wears Prada. While I am definitely not about to recite a Miranda Priestly rant to an acquaintance, it is true that fashion affects us all in some capacity, whether we are aware of it or not. Those entrenched in writing about fashion or getting started on their journalism journey know the importance of engaging with issues, news, and trends, but it is also our job to inform others of how important it is to everyone’s lives and how they can engage with fashion.

Because at the end of the day, whether you write about fashion, food, or politics, journalism comes down to honoring history, celebrating expression, sharing passion, and connecting the world through words. And those things, my friends, are never frivolous.