A Little Insight Into Style Journalism From SCADStyle's "Fashion Media Today: How Did We Get Here and What Should We Expect?"

I was recently able to attend the SCADFASH "Fashion Media Today: How Did We Get Here and What Should We Expect?" a conversation with Derek Blasberg, Vanity Fair/CNN Style & Kristina O’Neill, Editor-in-Chief of WSJ Magazine. 

This lecture or rather conversation between Blasberg and O’Neill gaveinsight into how successful people make their way into the fashion industry in the past and present day.   For instance, Kristina, though she grew up in Woodbridge, VA, always saw NYC as the end goal.  When she was in high school, she was editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper.  She went to NYU after high school, studying at the Gallatin School, where she was encouraged to explore the city and interview a person who inspired her.  So, after some research, she called Candace Bushnell, the weekly columnist for the New York Observer, the writer of Sex in the City – the original weekly column series, which was not quite as famous at the time.  After the interview, Candace decided that they were not finished, so she invited Kristina back to her apartment to answer more questions and chat. Kristina noted how messy Candace’s apartment was and realized that there was a need that she could fill.  She soon became Candace’s personal assistant. One of the things that stuck out as I listened to O’Neill speaking about her first job with Bushnell was how she basically inserted herself into a job that didn't exist.  It's the basic tag line of entrepreneurship – see a problem and solve it.

"I created a job for myself where there was no job." -O'Neill

She wrote weekly columns with New York Magazine, and was soon discovered by Harper’s Bazaar, where she grew in her own development of covering the fashion world; as a fashion caption writer at first, and ending as the executive editor.   She and Derek met during this time.  Derek, conversely, is from St. Louis, MO.  He moved to NYU to study journalism.  His first job in college was writing biographies at a modeling agency.  He was then an office assistant at Vogue and went on to freelance as a writer for amazing publications, like Harper's, Style.com and CNN Style.  While she grew into journalism, climbing the ladder, rising through the ranks, all the while he simply went where he fit best and excelled because of his also amazing skill as a writer.

The lives and experiences of these two have so much to teach, I have noted below some of the highlights.

1. Be aware

Embrace shifts in trends.

“We were the first magazine (Harper’s Bazaar) to put Kim Kardashian on the cover…You would see the spike immediate, so it was hard to ignore.  We couldn’t ignore the fact that this sort of shift was taking place…The data is there…We got Liz Taylor to interview Kim Kardashian!”

Fashion was becoming very democratic…and a little political, too.

Stay with the current social landscape (What does high fashion publication do in an economic depression?)

"The tech world is one of the biggest disrupters to fashion industry today."   -O'Neill

Those who are doing things before anyone else is...Consider these game-changing collaborations.  The one's doing the exciting things are the ones engaging with technology.  A good example of one doing this is Natalie Massenet joining Farfetch

3D printing is a new technology that lends so much potential to fashion design. Many designers, such as Iris van Herpen, use 3D printing to make dresses and shoes. Iris van Herpen’s Transforming Fashion exhibit was at the High Museum in 2016 and it showcased is innovative designs.

Be a pop culture junkie.  

Don't focus just on design, be knowledgeable.

"We focus on people doing things in a field where curiosity brought them there & drove them."   -O'Neill

Don’t be afraid to admit there is something you don't know; but, by the next day know it.  


Pay attention to industry consumption trends.  

People are not consuming the same way, but they will still go to your brand.  There has been an industry shift...there is a partnership with brand & blogger.

Traditional pecking order is no longer really a thing...now if have taste and a good following...you're in. Know the power of social media. The influence of the community.  Develop relationships with those who already have influence.

Don’t get too bogged down by data.  There is a difference betweend followship and likes.  Just do your best.

2. You will need skill 

Not many people aspire to be freelance – that was like a scary thing when I was young…What has changed now is that you can have many jobs as long as you have a solid skill that is in demand. (O’Neill)

There's a desire to be successful but not put in the work...But you have got to. (Blasberg)

You can't fake it til you make anymore, you have to have a skillset – what are you good at?  -O'Neill

You will develop skills in one position (however small or seemingly unimportant) that will carry into your next. 

3. Don't downplay (or overplay) your social media presence


Nowadays, social media is one of the first things you do to hire...

"I only want to hire someone I want to have dinner with." -O'Neill

Social media is a window into their world.  It’s where who you are where you want to be – the duality doesn't exist – the person you are on Monday is the same as on Friday night.

People like real people, just realize that much of the work you do will be behind the scenes.  


Pay attention to followers.

Cover topics readers are interested in...try covering these subjects in a similar quality as you would high fashion.  

Quality is always the differentiating factor, where quality competes with the bigger companies...time spent matters. (O'Neill)

Slow culture and fast...The process of putting together the creative publication and also taking part in the breaking news – both are important.  

4. Get Started!

Interested in being part of a fashion publication?  Her Campus writers have gone on to write for nearly all the major publications from InStyle to Vogue to Harper's Bazaar and more. Learn more about writing or blogging for SCAD ATL's chapter of Her Campus and opportunities to write for Her Campus National.  We are always looking for people to get involved with writing about the newest trends, forecasting, and many other topics!