Monday, 17 June 2013

Re: Elitism in Fashion Journalism & Links a la Mode

Sometimes it feels like the privileged elite have already nabbed the best jobs before others can get a look-in (source)
Whenever I do a post on a serious issue facing the fashion industry, I like to write a response post, especially if that post has made it into IFB's Links a la Mode. I'm so appreciative of the time readers take to comment, often leaving in-depth responses which open up new aspects of the issue at hand. That was particularly true of my post 'Is fashion journalism a closed shop for the elite?', perhaps because it's an issue which affects so many of us in the fashion blogosphere. A lot of us are, of course, either aspiring or working fashion journalists, so it's understandable that there should be several comments which reflect growing frustration at nepotism and favouritism in the industry. I'd like to take a look at some of the comments made.

I think that Tarandip of Fashstash pretty much summarised my feelings on the subject in her comment: "The fashion industry has kinda been breaking my heart ever since I decided that I wanted to be a part of it." The system is flawed and biased but that's just the way things work. The only thing you can really do is grow a thick skin and resolve not to give up, even as you see those with friends in high places being ushered passed the velvet rope with little or no effort. Tarandip agreed with me that unpaid internships should go though: "they do not help any cause at all except of the rich, who basically can afford to live with an unpaid internship. And when experience + connections is all that matters in this industry, an internship is pretty vital." This is very true. And though the industry will probably always be inherently flawed, getting rid of unpaid internships is at least a step to putting things right.

Shug Avery of Incognito drew my attention to a video of Giovanna Battaglia (which you can watch on her blog) in which she talks about how she got started in fashion styling. Shug pointed out that "Even though it wasn't said in the video it is obvious that her background did help her, her mother being a model, she must have had some connections in the fashion industry but this part was obviously not mentioned." I have found this to be the case in several interviews with people in the fashion industry. Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, was the most recent guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs (which you can listen to here if you live in the UK - don't know if it will work elsewhere). Her father was theatre critic Milton Shulman and her mother was writer Drusila Beyfus, and she acknowledges their influence in the interview, along with admitting that the area she grew up in and her education were both quite 'posh'. However, it's not made entirely clear how she got her first big break in the industry. I've no doubt at all in Alexandra Shulman's abilities and can't really think of a better person to be editor of Vogue right now, but she's almost certainly been lucky in her opportunities thanks to her connections. The fashion industry is full of Battaglias and Shulmans who, though undoubtedly talented, have also had a shoe-in somehow.

It's not all doom and gloom though. As both Frances of Last Year Girl and Devon of Informed Style pointed out, the rise of blogging is changing the way things work, presumably in all areas of journalism. Frances said: "Blogging, at least, is one way other voices and viewpoints can reach a lot of people and I'm sure has a part to play in shifting these attitudes." It's certainly true. And though it can be tough to make your way in the fashion world via this method, Devon made an excellent point: "Harder work than having it handed to you? Yes. But also more rewarding - and it gives me hope that someone with actual skill as a journalist will be able to snag a contributing editor spot at Vanity Fair." One of the things which Links a la Mode and the fashion-blogging community as a whole shows me is that there is far more diversity out there than appears in the mainstream publications. I think everyone takes a certain level of pride in their blog, no matter how small the readership, and that's because they have something which they believe is worth saying. Let's just hope that there will somehow be a way that the talented and unique individuals - of the sort represented in this week's LALM - can find a place in the industry, even if they don't have connections.

And on that note, please enjoy the 20 best posts of the week!



One of the things I love the most about blogging is that there are both actions and reactions in content. Action: making, creating, styling. Reaction: commentary, reviewing, dissecting. It satisfies both the heady space fashion can sometimes occupy, as well as occupying our two little hands. This week we have a great combination of things you can do and things to think about, and heck a couple of things you can put on your summer wishlist.

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

SPONSOR: Shopbop Skirts: Minis, Pencil, Maxis, L'Huillier, Tibi, Milly, A+O Skirts, Anine Bing, Derek Lam, Donna Karan, Paul & Joe Sister, Herve skirts

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