On Monday, February 3rd, I had the opportunity of asking questions to Alexa Chung and Tan France as part of their promotional stop in New York City for their new Netflix show Next in Fashion. The show provides a fresh new take on Bravo’s Project Runway as eighteen designers, put into pairs, compete to create runway-ready looks based on challenges they are given—all in two day’s time. Unlike Bravo’s show, there is little drama and the show emphasizes the designs themselves, rather than creating a storyline that combines reality TV with design. The designers primarily work together well and build wholesome friendships that allow them to succeed, which is admirable. That isn’t to say, however, that the show lacks excitement. The judges are faced with some tough calls and contestants create stunning (and some subpar) looks. Tan and Alexa are mentors and judges to the designers and are empathetic to the pressure they are placed under, as many of the designers are used to having weeks or months to work on a single garment. Many of the designers work as ‘ghost designers’, designing for fashion labels and receiving no credit for their work, so the show is meant to give them individual spotlight and highlight their talent.
Upon meeting Tan and Alexa, I can wholeheartedly confirm that they genuinely care about their contestants and the future of the fashion industry. Upon asking them what their recommendations were for students wanting to enter into the industry, Alexa replied with “We should be asking you!” and Tan recommended “Find[ing] an area within the fashion industry that you could truly make your own and you can make work! Whether it is in retail, a luxury sector…just find that area of expertise that isn’t a thing that literally millions of fashion students are going for, and then make that your own. That’s how I created my business, by finding a more niche market.” Alexa countered with “I have different advice. Be willing to make coffee and tea. I did this whole series with British Vogue about how to get into the fashion industry, and literally the takeaway advice from every designer, and whoever it was in the industry, was actually an attitude of being ready to help is what furthered their career and ultimately worked. They didn’t mind shoving s***. Being as helpful as you can will get you noticed! Get as much experience as you can possibly get, and go from there”.
Interviewing Tan and Alexa was a fantastic experience as both designers (they wanted to clarify that are first and foremost designers, not stylists) are well-versed in what it takes to become successful in the industry and went out of their way to thoughtfully and thoroughly answer my questions. The fashion industry itself is highly competitive and anything one can do to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pool of interns and applicants can make a world of a difference.
Next in Fashion’s first season is available for streaming now on Netflix.